Helen’s cross-country balancing act
A charity which works to preserve and promote traditional Dartmoor ponies has triumphed during the last month in setting up the sale of a dozen moorland bred youngsters to new homes.
Established in 2005, the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust (DPHT) 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.
In the past four weeks, the charity has successfully set up the sale of 12 young Dartmoor ponies to four different homes – worth an income of over £5,000 shared between four different pony keepers.
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.
Dru Butterfield, from the DPHT, said: “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.”
A total of eight ponies, from breeders in Chagford, Postbridge and Widecombe, have headed down to Cornwall to become conservation grazers with the Williams family at Gurland Farm, St Just.
Ms Butterfield said: “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.”
A further two ponies from Widecombe have gone to live with Steve Smallcombe and his family in Holsworthy, where they will conservation graze and eventually help with work on their smallholding. Another has found a new home in Cornwall, with plans to be brought on as a riding pony, while the last of the 12, pedigree foal Langworthy Peregrine, has gone to a family and showing home where he will also become a ridden pony.
Explaining why he chose the Dart- moor breed, Mr Smallcombe said: “I was spurred into action when I witnessed the Dartmoor pony sales after the annual round up. 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 encourage others to do likewise.
“After speaking to the DPHT, I went to meet Margaret Rogers, 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.”
He continued: “My overall intention is to champion these ponies as a useful asset to smallholders.”
Michael Williams with Chinkwell Chatty Man