He­len’s cross-coun­try bal­anc­ing act

West­coun­try Horses

Western Morning News - - Front Page - BY ATHWENNA IRONS

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

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