Moorland pony who could have been turned into 'zoo food' looks for a home
A very special pony will be hoping for a loving new owner when he is put up for sale at the Chagford Country Fair and Livestock Sale at Chagford Market on Saturday.
Unlike at the drift sales, the ponies at this moorland sale are all handled and are examples of what can be achieved with time and a bit of patience.
Gilly Greenham, owner of Barramoor William – known as Mario – is reluctantly selling him because he has now grown too big for her son. She said: "I first met Mario by chance – or you could call it fate. I was out taking pictures for the charity Friends of the Dartmoor Hill Pony and decided to call in on good friend Charlotte Faulkner, who runs the charity.
"Over coffee she mentioned she had some colts waiting to be dispatched and one of them was spotty. Not being able to resist a spotty pony I decided to go and have a look. These were feral colts and of course they legged it to the furthest corner of the field. All except one, a handsome little bright bay chap – he marched up to me as bold as brass and stuck his nose into my pocket looking for a treat. It was probably at that moment that Mario sealed himself a future.
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"Then he was a gangly six-month-old colt about to become zoo food. Now he is a beautiful big three-year-old gelding who plays football with my son and chases the girls. This summer I have started to break him into ride and he is proving to be very brave – he doesn't run away from anything – whatever we meet he turns and faces it. And that is probably what saved him from the lions.
Charlotte Faulkner said: "Mario is one of the lucky ones – It would have been such a waste for him to end up as zoo food.
"He is a typical example of the quality you can expect from these ponies bred on the moor. Sadly the numbers are dwindling – breeders are giving up, as it is no longer cost effective for them to continue. There used to be thousands of ponies grazing on the moors – they worked hard to keep bracken and gorse at bay – if we loose them all it would be a catastrophe."