Public Payment for Public Goods Semi-wild Dartmoor Hill Pony herds

We'd like to share this submission with as many people as possible, and in the hope that 'those in power' can understand and act to help us achieve our aim to protect the Dartmoor Hill Ponies. So please share this with your friends and family!

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We are Dedicated to Giving Ponies on Dartmoor a Future

On the Moor donations are needed to support creating a good welfare management plan, recognizing the ponies value as a tool of conservation. We are working on Caring for the ponies by:

  1. Recording and co-ordinating Drifts and Oversight following drifts.
  2. Stallion Management - Stallion Inspections and register since 1999 to keep the good standard of pony. Donations this year will be used for a Toolbox of options to reduce number of foals born each year, while maintaining the number of ponies on the moor. Please give what you can to keep Dartmoor as we know and love it. Stallion Removal where possible. Recognising that stallions maintain the distribution of ponies, so the moor is grazed evenly. Vasectomising stallions - encouraging all vets to offer this service, for pony keepers who have a stallion, which they do not wish to breed from and who is wise and strong enough to manage his mares and fight of other males who think mares not in foal are very interesting.
  3. Mare Management Trials and funding a contraception scheme for mares. Mares on this scheme are being monitored to make sure there are no changes in behavior. It is important to respect the social systems within the pony herds and the fabric and interaction of neighboring herds because that is how we use the ponies for the benefit of the ecosystem, all projects must be carried out with sensitivity and care, so we don’t take away the value the ponies have to the flora and fauna of Dartmoor. Please Donate to The Friends to support a Pony to go on contraceptive so mare can stay on Dartmoor with out producing an unwanted foal.
  4. Pony Health Management, including population management. Creating a uniform method of record keeping for the ponies to give value and support welfare and disease management. We are producing an action plan in case of an outbreak of an infectious disease. Information on worm burdens from faecal egg samples would assist in more targeted and effective worming.
  5. Health management protocols for new owners and existing pony keepers, this includes a subsidized gelding, 
Micro-chipping and pass-porting of ponies derogation for ponies on the commons and
fall back scheme for humane disposal of stock.
  6. Promoting and supporting ponies for their value to Dartmoor and beyond as conservation graziers - by giving advice on finding suitable ponies and helping to get ponies to areas where they can be used for conservation grazing. Bringing together Dartmoor commoners with grazing rights and encouraging the next generation, to ensure the future of their cultural heritage, using the traditional ways of working together (e.g..swaling, drifting, droving, and Pony Sales). Arranging for ponies to be passported and micro-chipped when they leave the moor using specially designed mobile handling facilities for wild ponies. Thank you to the Dartmoor National Park and Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society for funding this very valued equipment.

We must recognise that the devaluation of ponies is a key economic driver behind the decision of landowners to focus more on grazing cattle and sheep – ponies are simply no longer financially viable – but the Dartmoor landscape is shaped by a balance of many factors including the grazing of ponies. Without ponies grazing on Dartmoor the landscape will be changed forever. We believe that a mare management scheme(contraceptive project), possibly as part of an integrated programme of population control, will result in preventing the widely predicted extinction of the Dartmoor Hill Pony type and the adverse consequences this will have on the moor’s ecosystem.

Services to Pony-keepers and Others

Friends of the Dartmoor Hill Pony provides help and support to hill farmers who keep Hill Ponies on the Commons. We ensure that what we do is acceptable to, and beneficial for, Dartmoor’s ponykeepers.

For example, we provide a vehicle and trailer and collect wayward or injured ponies, organise veterinary services such as gelding young colts to give them a value so they can be kept, (at least 70 a year) take unwanted foals and ponies for homing (some 300 a year). We are also asked to apply our animal-handling skills to difficult situations, for example providing support to government departments collecting ponies from low animal welfare situations.

We have mobile equipment designed for handling wild ponies; to keep them safe while being treated…and vets!

Friends have developed a Disease outbreak Management Plan with help of the Dartmoor Hill Pony Association for ponies on the Moor. We are involved in stallion inspections alongside Dartmoor Commoners Council and Dartmoor Livestock Protection (along with a show judge and a vet) ensuring set standards for breeding stallions are met before they are put on the moor. We provide back up and support to the dedicated wonderful Dartmoor Livestock Protection welfare officer, whose number is 07873 587561 please call if you have concerns about an animal on the moor.

Helpful Head Collars Sponsorship

The first step for a pony seeking a life off the moor, is to learn to trust humans and wear a headcollar.

Friends of the Dartmoor Hill Pony has a number of pony-trainers who help the pony trust and a number of fabulous sponsors who sponsor the head-collars the ponies learn to wear. The Tuesday club is a group of volunteers who take the ponies through their minimum of 40 hours training. We can not thank our Tuesday Club volunteers enough for all the hard work they do at such an emotionally important time in a pony’s life.

Our sponsors also allow us to feed the ponies while they are in training, and employ the few number of professional handlers where needed for specialist cases. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please complete the contact form, or donated using the Charity Checkout button on if you are a tax payer, or the Donate button if not.

For a donation of £100 a sponsor can name a foal, feed them while in training, worm them, castrate them and microchip them. Sponsors also help foals which can not be homed due to an underlying problem, giving them a chance to have a fulfilling life being conservation grazers.

Foal Watch

This foal was born into the eye of the Mini beast from the east, the mother and foal have coped well in temperatures below freezing, snow and ice.

These ponies have roamed Dartmoor for thousands of years and are well adapted to the Dartmoor weather. They know where to go to get out of the biting wind, find running water when all around is frozen, and even eat gorse which the ponies know is a valuable food source, grinding it with their feet first to make it palatable and remove the prickles.

Following on from the great success last year of a project set up by The Friends of the Dartmoor Hill Pony "THE DARTMOOR FOAL WATCH FACEBOOK PAGE” is running again.

Last year many foals found homes even before they had come in from the moor on the annual pony drift. In October, the ponies are herded off the moor and brought back to the farms where they are checked and the foals weaned and then the decision is made as to which ponies can return to the moor. The foals that cannot return to the moor because Natural England states how many ponies must be on the moor have an uncertain future.