Without the dedication and passion from the generations of Dartmoor farmers who carefully breed, care for and manage the herds of pedigree and heritage Dartmoor ponies on Dartmoor, valuable bloodlines would be lost forever, and this incredible, endangered native breed would be in deeper trouble than it is at the moment.
It’s not the easiest of life missions, for sure! On Dartmoor there are many types, sizes, colours and breeds of pony stallions running free, meaning that pedigree Dartmoor pony breeders have quite a challenge on their hands. If they wish to use their ancient Commoners grazing rights to run ponies on the open moor to retain hardiness as well as beauty, and yet keep their mares safe from becoming pregnant to unknown stallions they have to use some strategic measures.
Several farms are now running a strong vasectomised stallion out on Dartmoor with their breeding mares in an attempt to protect them from mixed breed stallions and stray colts. Some are running a strong, experienced stallion with their mares, and some a gelding or two with the herd. Breeding is often done with quality pedigree stallions kept back on the farm, so that a farmer can try to breed only for the demands they know they have, then the mares run on the commons all throughout the rest of the year.
For more information on Dartmoor Pony Herd Management, you can read Robyn Petrie-Ritchie’s article in Active Dartmoor magazine here.