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Breeds of Ponies - A to Z
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
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
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
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.
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
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
The mane and tail should be full and flowing. The Dartmoor is a very good
looking riding pony, sturdily built yet with quality.