About Dartmoor Pony Horses
|Photo supplied by the Victorian Dartmoor Group Karanah Park Pony Stud - Victoria Â©|
Over many centuries ponies were allowed to run freely on
the high moorland of Devon in the south west of England. These ponies were well
adapted to the harsh climate. As the trade route between Exeter and Plymouth
became more important the native ponies came in contact with the many different
horse breeds that travelled on that road. They also were influenced by Arabian
and Barb horses brought back by Crusaders. During the Industrial Revolution the
Dartmoor Ponies were crossed with small Shetland Ponies in order to produce a
breed small enough to work in the mines. Unfortunately this led to a decline in
the popularity, and population, Dartmoor ponies. They were crossed with Welsh
Mountain Ponies, Polo Ponies, and Hackneys to save the breed.
In 1899 the first Dartmoor Stud Book was formed, which set
height limits for stallion to 14 hands high and for mares to 13.2 hands high.
About twenty years later the limit was reduced to the present height of 12.2
hands high. After World War II there was a decline in true Dartmoor Ponies and
in 1988 the Dartmoor Pony Society Moor Scheme was set up to save the breed.
Farmers with unregistered pure-bred ponies were encouraged to register them and
to provide them with pedigree stallions.