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21 February 2019   
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Exmoor Pony

The Exmoor is the last survivor of the Celtic ponies from the Pleistocene age and it is one of the oldest equine breeds in the world. They are mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1085 and they are believed to have existed during the Bronze Age.

Experiments have been conducted on the fossilised remains of the original Celtic pony found in Alaska and compared with those of the Exmoor. They have revealed the same shape jaw bones and the beginnings of a seventh molar tooth found in no other breed. Because of its remote habitat in Devon and Somerset it is one of the purist of the Mountain and Moorland breeds in Great Britain.

Much research was carried out on the skeletal structures and dentition of the Exmoor pony by Professor Speed and others scientists. Their findings suggest that the modern domestic horse descended from the four sub type species:
The Exmoor Pony found in north-west Europe resembles Pony Type 1 - Ewart's Celtic Pony. The Highland Pony - resembles Pony Type 2 - Ewart's Norse Horse. Akhal-Teke - resembles Horse Type 3 - Nisaean and Bacterian breed. Caspian rediscovered in 1965 - resembles Horse Type 4 - forerunner of the Caspian that is a pony-sized horse of Western Asia.

The Exmoor pony is exceptionally strong and hardy with great powers of endurance. The mares height limit is no more than 12.2 h.h. and the stallions is 12.3 h.h. but in spite of their small stature they are strong enough to carry an adult rider.

In 1912 The Exmoor Pony Society was founded to improve and encourage the breeding of moorland types. They ensure that the breed stays pure and only true Exmoor ponies are passed for registration and branded by the Society star on the shoulder. Herds of Exmoor ponies still run wild on the moor, every year they are rounded up for inspection and the pony's herd number is branded beneath the Society's star and on the nearside hindquarter the pony's own number.

The Exmoor pony has true pony character and appeal. The mealy, buff coloured muzzle and markings around the eyes make the breed easily recognisable. The conformation is good and compact; the head is a typical pony head with a wide brow, short straight nose, large, prominent, intelligent eyes (often referred to as 'toad' eyes because of the heavy top lids) small, wide set, alert ears and wide nostrils; the head is well set on a strong neck with a good length of reign; the shoulders are sloping; the back is short, broad and strong; the body is deep with a broad chest and well sprung ribs; the hindquarters are round; the limbs are short and strong with well shaped hard feet; the mane and tail are thick, the tail known as an 'ice' tail, fans out at the top for protection from the weather. The coat is dense, springy and virtually waterproof. The colour may be bay, brown or mousy dun with black points and no white markings anywhere at all. In spite of its immense strength with the correct handling and training the Exmoor pony makes a very good child's pony. It is robust and athletic with a strong constitution and it makes a good all round performance pony and is often used in the sport of driving.

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