Dartmoor ponies have a rich history of living and working on the moor.
Archeological investigation in the 1970's has shown that domesticated ponies were found on Dartmoor as early as 1500 BC! The first written record dates back as far as AD 1012, and refers to wild horses in Ashburton on the southern edge of Dartmoor.
In medieval times Dartmoor Ponies were used for carrying heavy loads of tin across the moor, so they had to be sturdy and strong.
Over the period between 1789 - 1832 the breed suffered an infusion of Shetland Pony blood as breeders were trying to create smaller ponies for use in the mines, but fortunately in1898 came the first attempts to define and register the breed.
In order to improve quality, the Dartmoor Pony received an influx of Arab blood from the stallion Dwarka, foaled in 1922, and his son, called The Leat.
The first attempt to define and register the breed was in 1898, when the ponies were entered into a studbook started by the Polo Pony Society. In 1924, the breed society was founded, and a studbook finally opened.
Both World Wars were devastating for the breed, with only a small number of ponies registered, but with perseverance and passion the local people began to increase breeding and in sections so that by the 1950’s numbers were becoming healthy once more.
Two schemes have been introduced to halt the decline in numbers, and broaden the gene pool of the Dartmoor Pony. The Dartmoor Pony Moorland Scheme (DPMS) was established in 1988 and is administered by the Dartmoor Pony Society and the Duchy of Cornwall, as well as being supported by the Dartmoor National Park.
In 2004 a new scheme, the Dartmoor Pony Preservation Scheme (DPPS), was introduced, and herds taking part in this new scheme must enter one mare each year to the DPMS. The Dartmoor Pony was granted Rare Breed status, but is sadly now an officially endangered native breed.