Dartmoor Pony: Breed and Care Information

Dartmoor Pony

Ponies grazing peacefully in a herd against the gorgeous background of Dartmoor is a Dartmoor landmark. They have been here a long time, hoof impressions unearthed on Dartmoor during an archaeological excavation were determined to be 3,500 years old!

Written evidence of ponies on the moor stretch back as long as AD1012, and in the mid 1800s ponies were employed to carry granite from the moorland quarries.

In 1950 it is believed there were nearly 30,000 ponies on the moor, presently we only have roughly 1500, with herds of purebred Dartmoor ponies, Heritage ponies, Hill ponies, Shetlands, Welsh, and Spotted ponies dispersed all throughout the moor.

There are several different Dartmoor Commoners (farmers and local citizens who have open moor grazing rights) who are responsible for maintaining the pony herds’ health and well-being. They are all the ponies’ rightful ponies.

What You Need to Know About Ponies

Dartmoor’s ponies, despite the severe winters and little foliage, are very robust. By grazing the moor, they help keep a diversity of habitats and animals flourishing. They grow quite skilled at understanding where to shelter, where the water sources are and where to go for the finest spring grass.

In order to protect our homes and gardens, those of us who live on the moor have developed the habit of keeping our gates locked at all times.

Most have not been touched, therefore you should not approach them too near, or feed them. Because of their calm temperament, strength and sure-footedness, when removed from the moor as foals and taught on, the ponies have been employed for numerous purposes throughout the years, which has led to the breeding of the many varieties observed on the moor today.

Down through history they have been employed for riding and driving, pit ponies, shepherding, hauling the family to market or even carrying the postman delivering mail.

Dartmoor Ponies of the purest breed

Dartmoor ponies

There are herds of gorgeous purebred Dartmoor ponies living out on the commons all year-round. They have the DNA to live in the hardest of situations, with their dense, thick coats and robust manes & tails.

Dark clothing offer fantastic protection from sunburn and tidy, firm black feet are suitable for trekking several kilometres a day on rock strewn moorland. Up to 12.2 feet tall, they only come in solid colors.

They have the right metabolism to flourish in difficult and rigorous environments, and have a great disposition. The knowledge of where to find food, water, and cover is handed down from father to son.

Several of the pedigree pony breeders operate their magnificent pedigree stallions out on the moor with their herd of mares, breeding naturally at liberty and others bring their mares in to their farms for the breeding season.

Pedigree ponies produced, born and nurtured on Dartmoor have gone on to enjoy phenomenal success as riding, show, and driving ponies all throughout Europe, and many have gone to other studs to enhance the quality and kind of ponies bred there.

Several Shlstone Rocks Stud ponies bred here on the moor have been exported by Tracey Elliott-Reep to New Zealand to start a brand new stud, where the mission is to further establish the Dartmoor pony breed in NZ, with the future vision of using the ponies to help children overcome challenges, whether these are physical, intellectual or emotional.

The Dartmoor Pony is without a doubt one of Dartmoor’s most charming exports!

Dartmoor Pony History and Origins

The Dartmoor Pony is one of nine original English horse breeds, with a wild background that is a long cry from the pedigree status they presently hold. Early written records of the breed may be dated back to 1012 AD, however they weren’t domesticated until approximately 1500 BC.

After World War I and World War II, the Dartmoor moorlands were used for military training, and the Dartmoor Ponies, like many other European species, were on the verge of extinction. Their continuous existence is owed to a limited handful of committed breeders, who resurrected the Dartmoor Pony line when it had reduced to just two registered males and twelve registered females.

Dartmoor Ponies may now be found all over the world, including the United States. The Dartmoor Commoners Council owns and protects the Dartmoor Ponies, which may still be seen wandering the moorland if you go to Dartmoor.

Dartmoor Pony Size

Sizes vary from 11.1 to 12.2 hands (45 to 50 inches) for Dartmoor Ponies, with the average weight being approximately 440 pounds. They may be short in width, but they make up for it in strength, as their sturdy build allows them to succeed in both sports and riding.

Breeding and Uses

From transporting heavy loads in English mines to escorting criminals at Dartmoor Prison in the early to mid-20th century, Dartmoor Ponies have fulfilled a variety of roles.

They’ve been more popular as competition horses than working horses throughout the years, and they excel in disciplines such as riding, jumping, dressage, and other forms of show. Breeding wise, the Dartmoor Pony is an essential component of the pedigree of the British Riding Pony, and is regularly crossed with Thoroughbreds for the aim of developing bigger ponies.

Color and Markings

The coat of the Dartmoor Pony may be found in a variety of hues, including brown, black, gray, roan, chestnut, and bay. For exhibiting reasons, excessive white markings, as well as skewbald and piebald colorings, are avoided.

Unique Characteristics of the Dartmoor Pony

Long recognized for its strong jumping and riding skills, the breed is adaptable to sport and typically fairly pleasant to be around humans. Domesticated Dartmoor Ponies are a docile breed with a friendly demeanor, making them perfect for youngsters and lightweight starting riders.

As with their still-wild counterparts, wandering Dartmoor Ponies may not be nearly as gentle, and it is suggested to see them from a distance instead of going up close.

Diet and Nutrition

Dartmoor Ponies spent years surviving off of the earth, and their present diet shows an intolerance to manufactured or high-sugar meals. Like other ponies, Dartmoor Ponies thrive well on a balanced diet of hay and other digestible fibers, and their weight should be watched and regulated to ensure they remain at their healthiest.

Problems with Health and Behaviour

Dartmoor Ponies are a fairly healthy breed with no well-known hereditary diseases. Following correct care standards is still essential, however, including frequent checks with an equine veterinarian.


The Dartmoor Pony likes to love grooming treatments, which involve frequent brushing to maintain their hair bright and clean. Make careful to maintain the condition of the hooves as well to avoid damage or infection from arising.

Is the Dartmoor Pony Right for You?

The Dartmoor Pony is a gentle breed that performs well with youngsters. The perfect owner for any horse or pony breed is one who gives the animal plenty of exercise and particular attention while also working to enhance the animal’s natural abilities and abilities.

How to Get a Dartmoor Pony for Adoption or Purchase?

Dartmoor Ponies, particularly in the United States, are a somewhat uncommon breed. To find a Dartmoor Pony for your stable, we suggest contacting a general horse rescue organisation, since there are none in the United States.

Many of the ponies that you may see over the moor are known as Hill Ponies. Many have Shetland, Welsh, Arab and Spotted pony breeding mixed in, and may be of any colour, build or size, hence they are recognized as a kind of pony rather than a particular breed.

Hill Ponies

Hardy and robust, they do a superb job of grazing the moor alongside the pedigree and heritage ponies and can make excellent children’s ponies as well.

Some of the horses are handled and trained to become family pets, conservation grazers, riding or driving ponies once they come off the moor during the yearly “drifts.”

There is usually a surplus of hill ponies born each year on the commons, and numerous hard working charities are in action to find homes for them.

Shetland Ponies

Shetlands were introduced in the early 20th century when they were mixed with moorland ponies to create tiny, robust animals capable of working down the mines.

There are various groups of these little, tough and tremendously powerful ponies all over many different regions of the moor, all different hues amongst them.

They are popular miniature ponies, and each year at the Chagford Pony Sales you will find dozens of them offered for sale. It’s impossible to comprehend how adorable the foals are until you meet them in person!

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