Saturday, 8th August
On Saturday, 8th August, Meet the Herds took place at Wheddon Cross.
In the Moorland Hall, there was an exhibition of the history of the ponies including Dr Sue Baker’s Horsebeasts Exmoor boards together with details of all 20 registered moorland herds was on view. There were also photographic displays, a Friends of Exmoor pony stall and home-made cakes and coffee/tea on sale.
At Cutcombe Market, moor bred ponies who have made the transition from moorland foal to domestic equine were on show to the public.
Moorland breeders were on hand to discuss the welfare and management of the herds and to talk about the ponies in general.
Visitors came from across England and from as far afield as Spain and America!
Sunday, 9th August
The Conservation Grazing Day was arranged by Jackie Ablett & Gill Langdon of the Tawbitts herd (H17). Jackie & Gill’s ponies run out on Dunkery and also on a number of conservation grazing sites Devon and Somerset. Their ponies rotate between being part of the breeding herd and being conservation grazing ponies. Youngstock, particularly colts, go onto conservation gazing sites to run on before going on to become riding ponies and, if not being considered as a potential new stallion, are gelded. Breeding mares and geldings are also kept on conservation sites so that specific bloodlines are bred from each year thereby ensuring thus controlling the number of foals born each year.
The day started at the Moorland Hall in Wheddon Cross with a showing of the EPS film about conservation grazing followed by a ‘question and answer session’. Display boards showing conservation sites throughout the UK was on view togerher with information leaflets and an opportunity to purchase the DVD (priced £5).
Eighteen people were in attendance.
Nine people went on by minibus to Staple Fitzpaine to visit a conservation grazing site. There they joined the group who were assembed there which included Lucy Morton, the Butterfly Conservation Officer, who then gave a talk on the Exmoor ponies role in conservation grazing for the butterfly project.
The group then visited the area where the ponies were grazing and assisted with the ponies being moved onto the new ground that needed to grazed.
After a picnic lunch, the group returned home.
The role of Exmoor ponies in conservation grazing has been one of the promotional campaigns of the Exmoor Pony Festival as this provides a market for moor bred ponies.
The Moorland Mousie Trust (http://www.moorlandmousietrust.org.uk/), the Sussex Pony Grazing Conservation Trust (http://sussexponygrazing.co.uk/) and the Yorkshite Exmoor Pony Trust (http://yept.webs.com/) all place Exmoor ponies onto conservation grazing site.
Recently, the Exmoor Pony Society (www.exmoorponysociety.org.uk) and the Moorland Mousie Trust worked together to send a new breeding herd to Czechoslovakia.
Exmoor ponies can also be found conservation grazing in Sweden and Germany.
Monday, 10th August
The Green Room, Exmoor Pony Centre TA22 9QE
Talk by Dr Sue Baker author of ‘Survival of the Fittest’ on the Exmoor pony – From Doomesday to DNA.
Monday, 10th August/Thursday, 14th August
Great days out with Exmoor Wildlife Safaris – on the Thursday we were lucky to have a reporter from the Mid Devon Gazette with us and got some great coverage in the newspaper – promoting the Exmoor pony to a wider audience.
Tuesday, 11th August
Tricia Gibson took a group of walkers out onto Dunkery Common to see ponies from Westwilmer (Herd 4), Hawkwell (Herd 12) and Tawbitts (Herd H17) – great opportunities to see the ponies both from afar and up close.
Wednesday, 12th August
The Exmoor Pony Society Breed Show was a fantastic opportunity to see both moor bred and in-ground ponies and talk to owners, breeders and enthusiasts. The Exmoor Pony Society and Moorland Mousie Trust were on hand to tell everyone about the role of the two charities. The most wonderful sight had to be the parade of Exmoor ponies in the main ring!
Thursday, 13th August
An absolutely fabulous day with the Moorland Mousie Trust at the Exmoor Pony Centre – lots of funfilled activities for all the family as well as learning a lot about the Exmoor Pony!
And later that same day we joined Victoria Eveleigh at Lynton Pavilion for the launch of Katy’s Exmoor Challenge – brining the world of Exmoor ponies to young readers.
Friday, 14th August
We went for a gentle walk on North Hill, to see the pony herd and learn about the National Park’s management of their ponies. The Moorland Mousie Trust also took along one of their ponies so that people could meet an Exmoor pony close up. Despite the slightly foggy weather – the ponies could be seen.
Friday, 14th August
Lovely evening in The Green Room at the Exmoor Pony Centre with an enthusiastic audience watching the film about the Exmoor ponies that have gone to the Czech Republic as conservation grazers and as a breeding herd. Caroline Tout’s film ‘Surviving Wild’ commissioned by the Exmoor Pony Festival Trust to educate the public about the breed was extremely well received and featured on many sites throughout the UK. The Pony Map with its Pony Code also proved a great success and more copies had to be printed before the end of the Festival!
The BBQ and quiz were great fun and thanks goes to Dr Sue Baker for setting the questions – roll on next year!
Saturday, 15th August starts 9am
We visited Brompton Regis Show and saw lots of fabulous Exmoor pony classes and talked to lots of people about Exmoor ponies!
Sunday, 16th August
We set up a fantastic exhibition in The Green Room at the Exmoor Pony Centre so people could see what a fabulous Festival had taken place celebrating the Exmoor pony breed.
Besides the scheduled events:
Stud Visits – a good number of moorland herds owners were happy to escort people to see their ponies both in-ground and on the moor during the festival week.
Exmoor Wildlife Safaris – besides our two scheduled safaris people could book onto a safari and request a pony expert.
Follow the free-living herds of Exmoor Ponies year round by liking our facebook page.