The Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust successfully set up the sale of 12 young Dartmoor ponies, bred on Dartmoor, to four different homes and worth an income of over £5,000 shared between four different pony keepers, during the last month.
The Charity acts as coordinator for the sales, made via its website or through phone enquiries, matching buyers with suitable ponies and breeders – at no charge to those involved. All the ponies have had basic handling provided free by the DPHT, or have had a good start in life through the time invested by their breeders.
Says Dru Butterfield from the DPHT: “We are demonstrating that it is possible to achieve sensible money for good ponies and ensure they go to permanent homes, even during the tough time of the Drift when so many youngsters come onto the market. We appreciate that this is only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ but it does show that there is a demand for the right ponies, especially when they have been given basic handling; we firmly believe this ensures a better start to their lives as conservation grazers, working or family ponies.
“We sent 8 ponies from breeders in Chagford, Postbridge and Widecombe, to be conservation grazers with the Williams family at Gurland Farm in Cornwall. One of the yearlings, Chinkwell Chatty Man, was champion foal in the Dartmoor Pony Moorland Scheme 2017 and has such a good temperament that the family have also decided to have him broken in as a family pony when he is older. Two more from Widecombe have gone to Steve Smallcombe and his family in Holsworthy, to conservation graze and eventually help with work on their smallholding. Another has gone to Cornwall to an experienced family to bring on and eventually become a ridden pony. The last of the 12 is pedigree foal Langworthy Peregrine, who recently took starring role at an Open Day at the DPHT Centre in Bovey Tracey with his mum, proudly showing off his amazing temperament by making friends with birds of prey from Dartmoor Hawking! Perry has gone to a family and showing home where he will no doubt go on to be a riding pony star as well.”
Explaining why he chose Dartmoors, Steve Smallcombe said: “I was spurred into action when I witnessed the Dartmoor pony sales after the annual round up (or Drift). Knowing full well I could not make a difference to the grand scale of things, I thought ‘I can make a difference to a few’ and hopefully encourage others to do likewise.
“So this October, after speaking to the DPHT, I went to meet Margaret who is a member of their Recognised Pony Keeper Scheme and saw her ponies. Margaret answered all our questions and gave us the history of the animals – we decided to buy two.
“My overall intention is to champion these ponies as a useful asset to smallholders; they may take longer than a tractor or quad, but then if you are passionate about something, you’ll always make time. Plus a tractor won’t benefit your rhubarb or roses!”