Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust – Enhancing Welfare Facilities

Ponies have lived on the commons of Dartmoor since prehistoric times, grazing the moorland & playing a vital role supporting wildlife and maintaining a variety of habitats. There are some 1000 ponies remaining on the commons of Dartmoor but only a small number are indigenous Dartmoors, brood mares are optimistically estimated at 300.
In 2005 the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust was formed to address falling numbers of Dartmoor ponies and the possibility that the ancient bloodlines could be lost.

The primary objective of DPHT is to retain the genetic strengths of the moorland bred animal for the future so that they can be available when markets improve. DPHT also look to reduce the welfare concerns caused by ineffective or inappropriate herd management methods, including the culling of foundation brood mares and the culling of the annual excess of foals.
In the past foals were gathered in the annual autumn ‘drift’ and sold at local markets. Few foals actually reach the last remaining market with many culled beforehand. Of those that do reach the market less than 10% are sold. These animals face an uncertain future.

DPHT has proved that handling and training the foals and young ponies can add value and secure a wider market for them as companions, riding and driving ponies, or for use in conservation grazing.

The Elise Pilkington Charitable Trust is providing vital joint funding towards a building that will give us further space and storage providing better accommodation for ponies, as well as an additional student observation / teaching area. This will also enable us to offer more to those attending our ‘Ponies Inspiring People’ programmes for students on the autistic spectrum; young people with challenging behaviours and/or with profound disabilities, using Dartmoor ponies as the ‘platform for learning’.