Forget puppy walkers, the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust is asking for people to step forward and walk foals.
The charity is pulling together a scheme to provide temporary homes for young stock bred on the moors until they are ready to be used for other purposes. The foals belong to the charity’s members who farm on Dartmoor and breed traditional ponies to ensure its survival on the moor, which in turn positively impacts the biodiversity of the moorland and is a huge attraction for visitors to Devon.
Providing homes will help breeders for whom escalating inflation rates and the cost of living is starting to bite with rising animal feed and fertiliser costs also adding to the day to day running costs of their farms.
The charity’s Chief Executive Officer Dru Butterfield explained: “This is a really lovely opportunity to get to know true Dartmoor ponies and all their wonderful characteristics. We will of course be inspecting every single home, and anyone who fosters a foal will be given ongoing support if needed, and honorary membership of the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust.”
Mrs Butterfield emphasised that the ponies will only be placed with people who have a good level of equine knowledge, adding: “The foals will have been handled, we just need to find them homes until they reach an age where we can sell them on behalf of their farmers. Every little thing people do, from donating to the DPHT to providing a home for a foal is helping to conserve our heritage and securing the future of our traditional ponies on Dartmoor. They are now a red listed native breed, as defined by the rare breeds survival trust, which means their numbers are dwindling dramatically, and as a charity, we have to do everything we can to conserve them, and an important part of our heritage.”
If you are interested in fostering a pony, please email email@example.com. If you are unable to help with fostering a foal and would like to make a donation instead to help support Dartmoor pony breeders and keepers – it costs £1200 per year for one foal, including castration, handling and contingency for a vet – please visit https://dpht.co.uk/donate