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Breed Facts

Status:
Threatened

Use:
Riding, Driving

Adult Weight:
450 - 500 lbs

Temperament:
Docile, Calm, Friendly, Spirited

Experience Level:
Novice

Notes:
Good child’s pony, consistent appearance, used for removing invasive plants

Dartmoor Pony

Dartmoor PonyThe Dartmoor descends from the native ponies present for many centuries on Dartmoor in southwestern England. Ponies were used for riding, agricultural work, and pulling skips in coal and tin mines. It was customary to range the ponies on the moor when they were not needed, and natural selection helped shape a breed that could thrive on rough terrain and poor forage. This breed is one of five native, regionally adapted English ponies; the others are the Dales, the Exmoor, the Fell, and the New Forest.

Dartmoor ponies nearly disappeared during the first half of the 1900s. Mechanization eliminated the need for working ponies, and purebreds were crossed for the production of polo ponies and other sport horses. The formation of the Dartmoor Pony Society in the 1930s was a first step in the Dartmoor’s survival, although the breed did not begin to increase until after World War II. One of the Society’s goals today is the reestablishment of purebred free roaming herds on Dartmoor to replace the mixed breed ponies present now.

Dartmoor ponies average 12 hands (48") at the withers. Bay and brown are the most -common colors, but black, chestnut, and gray are also found. White markings are uncommon. The head is small with a broad forehead and small ears. The neck is strong and the quarters are well muscled. The legs have dense, flat bone, and the hooves are durable. Manes and tails are full. The sloping shoulder and long stride give a smooth ride. The ponies’ calm, friendly, and willing dispositions make them popular as children’s mounts. The breed’s consistency of appearance makes it easy to pick Dartmoors out of a crowd and to match ponies for driving teams.

The Dartmoor breed has an estimated -global population of 2-3,000. About 200 Dartmoor ponies are found in the United States, descending from imports made during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. The registry of the Dartmoor Pony Society of America was begun in 1936. Demand for Dartmoors exceeds the supply, but the increasing numbers of ponies will gradually make it possible for more people to become involved with this versatile and charming breed.


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