Pony herds, which are owned by individual commoners, have been grazing the commons of Dartmoor for many centuries. The hardy ponies seen today are often of mixed breeding and are able to survive the harsh conditions of the moor. These are known as Dartmoor Hill Ponies. There is also the pure pedigree Dartmoor Pony that can be seen grazing the commons. Both play an important role in managing the moorland.
Traditionally the ponies are ‘drifted’ or rounded up from the commons in
the autumn and gathered into a nearby pound from which each owner
removes his or her own ponies to the farmstead.
Foals born in the previous spring are separated from the mares for weaning and later sold at the local markets in Tavistock and Chagford. Some of the foals are kept as replacement stock, branded and turned back on the commons to breed in future years, others will be used as children’s riding ponies or for driving small traps.
Dartmoor Commoners' Council, 1 Canal Road, Tavistock, Devon, PL19 8AR Tel: 01822 618892