Exmoor Pony Festival 2017

Join us for the Exmoor Pony Festival 2017!

Now in its 6th year, we have set the dates to be 5th-20th August with events both on Exmoor and away as we seek to bring the Exmoor Experience to people across the UK.

Our 2016 strap line ‘FROM GATHER TO GLORY’ showcased the exploits of ponies born on the moor and their ability to turn a hoof to most equine sports.

In 2015, we focused on safety and awareness producing the Exmoor Pony Map and Caroline Tout’s fantastic film ‘ Surviving Wild’ – here’s the link:

The registered Exmoor pony is recognised by the Rare Breed Survival Trust (Watchlist Category 2, Endangered) across the UK.

Join us wherever you see our distinctive logo festivallogo5

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Exmoor Pony Festival 2016


Last year we focused on safety and awareness producing the Exmoor Pony Map and Caroline Tout’s fantastic film ‘ Surviving Wild’ – here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jilOvw-7E-w&feature=youtu.be

This year the Trustees of the Exmoor Pony Festival Trust have decided that this year’s festival theme will be … FROM GATHER TO GLORY!

So we will be celebrating the moor bred registered Exmoor pony as recognised by the Rare Breed Survival Trust (Watchlist Category 2, Endangered) across the UK.  There will be opportunities for people to meet Exmoor ponies and learn about the breed whether you are lucky enough to be down on Exmoor during the summer months or situated in other parts of the country.

We have our own special Exmoor Pony Festival rosettes that will be given out to the best moor bred pony in in-hand and ridden classes at the Exmoor Pony Society’s area shows – so that everyone can see that moor bred ponies do go on to become fantastic family ponies. And we have walks on a number of conservation grazing sites from around the UK to highlight the role of the moor bred Exmoor pony in re-establishing natural habitats in our beautiful countryside – a role they have carried out on Exmoor for centuries.

The Exmoor Pony Festival is brought to you by the Exmoor Pony Festival Trust in conjunction with The Exmoor Pony Society, the Moorland Mousie Trust and the Exmoor Committee of Herd Owners – ECHO.

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The Exmoor Pony Festival Trust is a non-profit making association that has been set up to bring together a series of events to promote all twenty registered moorland herds on Exmoor. This year the Exmoor Pony Festival will run from 8th-16th August 2015 and promotion of the event started soon after the last festival ended when we organised to take literature to the Horse of the Year Show.

We are very grateful to all those who already pledged sponsorship to assist in bringing the events together and promoting the event across the UK. If you would like to pledge support, take an advertisement in the festival brochure or provide sponsorship – Please email susan.mcgeever@btconnect.com for more details.
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What can you expect from this year’s Exmoor Pony Festival – now in its fourth year – celebrating the free-living registered herds on Exmoor and starting on 8th August

North Hill Mares (2)

Meet the Herds Day – an opportunity to meet ponies and the people who run the moorland herds as well as learn about their welfare and management

Accompanied Walks/Stud Visits – herd owners will take you out on the moor and talk about their ponies and their management

Safaris – if walking is not for you then hop aboard a safari, hopefully you will not only see ponies but also other wildlife

Exmoor Pony Centre – the Moorland Mousie Trust, a registered charity, runs the centre and this is a great way to actually get to know a pony or try riding one!

Conservation Grazing Day – learn about the role of the Exmoor pony as a conservation grazer and visit a dedicated conservation grazing site – especially useful for those landowners who might be thinking of using Exmoor ponies in this role.

Exmoor Pony Society Breed Show – an opportunity to see Exmoor ponies in the show ring from mares with foals to stallions, youngstock and ridden ponies. There will also be an exhibition providing information on all the registered moorland herds.

Victoria Eveleigh – Exmoor pony owner/breeder and writer will be launching her new book

Sponsored Ride – an opportunity to ride across Exmoor, raise money for charity and learn more about Endurance Riding with a special timed trial and vets on hand to check heart rates. Exmoor is the home of the Golden Horseshoe Ride now in its 50th year so apt that we should focus on this equine discipline. Plus, of course, we have several Exmoor ponies who compete at Endurance Riding up to international level. Exmoors will be competing in the Golden Horseshoe Ride.

And finally, the Versatile Exmoor Pony – whatever the equine discipline or activity think Exmoor Pony.

And, of course, some social evenings

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What are the purposes of the Exmoor Pony Festival?

epftlogoThe purposes of the Exmoor Pony Festival are:
• to promote the free-living moorland herds of registered Exmoor Ponies which are part of the Exmoor National Park’s landscape and heritage
• to educate the public on the welfare and management of the herds and
• to foster an appreciation of the Exmoor Pony breed

We do hope that you will find this page informative and that we can encourage you to think Exmoor. It is essential for the breed which is on the RBST Watchlist Category 2 (Endangered) to breed from registered stock in order to maintain the genetic pool. Responsible breeding policies have been in place on the moor for a good number of years in line with the current thinking of all equine and welfare organisations.

When numbers were recorded at the end of the Second World War, it was thought that only 50 registered Exmoor ponies remained worldwide.

In 1947 Mary Etherington, a staunch supporter of the breed, rallied the moorland breeders and said, “The coming generations will have good reason to call us unfaithful stewards if when we are gone there are no more little horses on the Exmoor hills”.

Over the years numbers increased slowly but in 1993 when the Exmoor National Park was designated an Environmentally Sensitive Area, the ponies very existence was put into question. The authorities thinking was that the ponies should come off the moor during the winter threatening the long term survival of the breed. Thankfully the work of the Exmoor Pony Society ensured that the ESA document for Exmoor confirmed that the registered ponies had been made a special case and could remain on the moor year round.

Today, there are 500 Exmoor ponies registered into the twenty-one herds running on Exmoor and a further 3500 worldwide.

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Exmoor Pony Festival goes forth (now in its 4th year!)


The 2015 Exmoor Pony Festival is in the calendar! Plan your perfect Exmoor break for 8-16 August and enjoy Exmoor Pony rides, walks, fun days, moorland herd open days, the annual breed show at the Exford Show, cream teas and much more! Now in its 4th year, the Exmoor Pony Festival has proved to be a magnet for thousands of visitors, presenting a wide range of exciting activities about Exmoor’s famous moorland herds.

Jason Ball of the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership said: “What does everyone who comes to Exmoor want to see? The Exmoor Pony! The free-living moorland herds of registered Exmoor Ponies are such an important part of Exmoor National Park’s landscape and heritage. The Exmoor Pony Festival is an excellent way to promote the herds, inspire an appreciation of the unique and versatile Exmoor Pony breed and raise awareness of the people behind the scenes who work tirelessly to look after the herds.”

The Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership is delighted to announce the handover of the Exmoor Pony Festival to its project partners, the Moorland Mousie Trust and the Exmoor Pony Society, who have set up the Exmoor Pony Festival Trust for this purpose.

Jason Ball said: “The Landscape Partnership is proud to see the Exmoor Pony Festival continue as a successful legacy of its Exmoor Pony project, having worked closely with the moorland herds, local event providers, volunteers, the Moorland Mousie Trust and the Exmoor Pony Society to establish it. We are hugely grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund whose support made all this possible and my personal thanks go to everyone involved for turning the idea into a reality.”

Sue McGeever, Secretary of the Exmoor Pony Festival Trust said: “We are delighted to have been able to provide a vehicle for the continuation of the Exmoor Pony Festival and are extremely grateful to the support and encouragement given to us by the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership and the Exmoor National Park Authority in moving this project forward.  We are looking forward to building on the success of previous years and to once again working closely with the Exmoor’s moorland herd owners to bring Exmoor ponies to the general public. The moorland herd owners, the willing team of volunteers and the tourism providers are vital to the success of the festival but we also rely on the generous support of donors and sponsors – please get in touch and be part of this annual Exmoor success!”

Find out more about the Exmoor Pony Festival on Facebook, at exmoorponyfestival.org.uk or call 01884 839930.


Editors Notes

Updates on http://exmoorponyfestival.org.uk  (no www.) also on facebook.com/ExmoorPonyFestival and on Twitter with the #exmoorponyfest hashtag.

Media contact

Clare O’ Connor, Exmoor National Park Authority. Direct Line: 01398 322244. Mobile: 07772 092128. Pictures available from Clare or the festival website.


The purpose of the Exmoor Pony Festival is to promote the registered free-living moorland herds of the Exmoor Pony as part of the Exmoor National Park’s landscape and heritage, to educate the public on the welfare and management of the herds and to foster an appreciation of the Exmoor Pony breed. The Festival is coordinated by the Exmoor Pony Festival Trust.

Exmoor Ponies are excellent for riding, driving and agility, often winning prizes, their high intelligence apparently linked to life in the wild as free-roaming herds. Exmoor National Park is the home of the Exmoor Pony, an ancient and hardy breed perfectly adapted to the moorland landscape. Everyone loves the famous Exmoor Pony herds and they are truly part of the moorland landscape, yet we should remember behind the picturesque scenes is a dedicated army of the herd owners, volunteers, inspectors and rangers who all work to secure the future of the free-roaming Exmoor Pony.

Last year over 3,000 people joined the 2014 Exmoor Pony Festival to celebrate the famous free-living pony herds on Exmoor National Park, with 9 days of safaris, country shows, herd open days, walks, rides and family fun – supported by volunteers, herd owners, tourism providers and the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Heart of Exmoor scheme. As a legacy of the scheme the festival has been adopted by the new Exmoor Pony Festival Trust.

The Exmoor Pony Society

A Registered Charity, the Exmoor Pony Society was set up in 1921 for the registration of pure-bred Exmoor ponies, the conservation of the breed and the preservation of the breed standard as well as promoting the ponies to the general public. Friends of Exmoor Ponies is the fundraising part of the Society and volunteers travel to shows up and down the country to educate the public about this rare native breed. For more information, please visit exmoorponysociety.org.uk or call Sue McGeever on 0845 607 5350.

The Exmoor Pony Centre (Moorland Mousie Trust)

Open Sunday to Friday (closed Saturdays) the centre offers everyone a chance to meet Exmoor ponies at close quarters, provides education, training in pony handling, conservation grazing advice, riding and more. Run by the Moorland Mousie Trust, a charity with HRH the Duchess of Cornwall as their royal patron. For details please visit exmoorponycentre.org.uk or call 01398 323093.

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