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21 February 2019   
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Dartmoor Pony

The Dartmoor pony takes its name from the area in Devonshire where it has roamed for centuries. This small pony breed has been influenced by many different breeds over the years. Ponies are believed to have lived and roamed the moors in Saxon times, the earliest recorded writings are said to have been in about the 11th century. Later, there was an important trade route over the moors between Plymouth and Exeter and the native stock were probably influenced by the many different types of horses used to travel the route. Arab and Barb blood was also introduced by the Crusaders.

In the Industrial Revolution Shetland ponies were crossed with the Dartmoor's to make them more suitable for working underground, unfortunately this was a retrograde step for the Dartmoor pony breed and these crosses were a much inferior type. In an attempt to re-establish the quality pony type, new blood was introduced, including Welsh Mountain pony, Polo pony and Hackney.

In 1899 the first Dartmoor pony studbook was founded. Stallions were permitted up to 14h.h. and mares at 13.2h.h. However, when the ponies were brought forward for inspection in 1899, almost three quarters of the ponies passed were 12.2 hands or less and only 24 measured above 12.2 hands. The height limit was finally set at 12.2 in 1924 after only 25 years of registration.

Some of the most influential ponies were; Judy V, a champion mare bred by Mr. E. P. Northey, who produced the first Breed Standard and got the first Dartmoor Stud Book off the ground; the champion stallion The Leat bred by the Prince of Wales at his Ducy Stud at Tor Royal near Princetown. The Leat was by a pure bred 14.1h.h. Arab stallion called Dwarka out of a Dartmoor mare. The Leat stood at 12.2h.h was beautiful and had exceptional conformation. He only stood at stud for a short while; Juliet IV, yet another champion, was the offspring of the above two ponies, she was bred by Miss Calmady-Hamlyn in 1923 and from her, in 1941 came the outstanding show and stud success, Jude.

The rugged habitat of the moors have produced a very hardy, sure footed pony with a true native character. Their amiable calm temperament make them an ideal child's pony. The best of the breed combine quality with great hardiness and they are equally suited to work in harness or under saddle. The popularity of the breed has grown and it has been exported all over the world. In America they have their own Dartmoor breed Society and Association.

The Standard of the Dartmoor Pony as set by the DPS

Not Exceeding 127 cm. (12.2hh.)

Bay, brown, black, grey, chestnut, roan. Piebalds and Skewbalds are not allowed. Excessive white markings should be discouraged.

Neck & Head:
The head should be small with large kindly eyes and small alert ears. It should be well set on a good neck of medium length. The throat and jaws should be fine and showing no signs of coarseness or throatiness. Stallions to have a moderate crest.

Good shoulders are most important. They should be well laid back and sloping, but not too fine at the withers.

Of medium length and strong, well ribbed up with a good depth of girth giving plenty of heart room.

Loin & Hindquarters:
Strong and well covered with muscle. The hind quarters should be of medium length and neither level nor steeply sloping. The tail is well set up.

Limbs: The hocks should be well let down with plenty of length from hip to hock, clean cut and with plenty of bone below the hock. They should have a strong second thigh. They should not be 'sickled' or 'cow-hocked'.

The forelegs should not be tied at the elbows. The fore-arm should be muscular and relatively long and the knee fairly large and flat at the front.

The cannons should be short with ample good, flat, flinty bone. The pasterns should be sloping but not too long. The feet should be hard and well shaped.

Low and straight coming from the shoulder with good hock action but without exaggeration.

The mane and tail should be full and flowing. The Dartmoor is a very good looking riding pony, sturdily built yet with quality.

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