The answer to the pony problem on Dartmoor?...remove stallions off moor
Since the WMN revealed earlier this month how unwanted Dartmoor Hill Ponies have been shot on farm with their carcasses being sent to zoos to feed the animals, the subsequent coverage in the national media has caused concern for the Dartmoor Pony Society. DPS chairman, Paul Taylor is keen to clarify the public’s understanding of the issues.
As chairman of the Dartmoor Pony Society I am fed up of opening the newspapers to learn that Dartmoor ponies are about to become extinct as they are being slaughtered by the knackerman and are being taken to a Devon zoo to be fed to the tigers.
DPS chairman Paul Taylor says hill ponies on Dartmoor need regular worming and feeding over their first winter, not taken to the sales and sold for little money
The first thing which I feel needs pointing out is the incorrect reference to 'Dartmoor' ponies on Dartmoor used throughout many of the articles in the national press; the suggestion being that all ponies on Dartmoor are Dartmoor ponies.
There are three different groups of ponies on the moor which are as follows:-
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1) The pure bred pedigree Dartmoor ponies. These ponies are registered in the Dartmoor Pony Society Stud Book and are recognised as a Rare Breed. The pedigree pony is predominantly brown, black, bay or grey with dun and liver chestnut classed as acceptable but black and white, brown and white or spotted ponies are not acceptable.
2) The Dartmoor Heritage ponies. These ponies are bred on the moor and have the same colouring as the pedigree ponies with much the same temperament and, on inspection, can enter the Dartmoor Pony Society Stud Book on the Heritage List.
3) The third group of ponies on Dartmoor are the Dartmoor Hill Ponies. These ponies are not Dartmoor ponies but ponies born on Dartmoor. They are not a breed of pony and will never qualify to be a breed and it is these ponies which their breeders are finding difficult to sell.
It is quite obvious that most of the information in the Daily Mail's article (December 10) was given to the reporter Harry Mount, by a representative of the Dartmoor Hill Pony Association who, in my opinion, has done nothing at all to sort out the problems facing the pony keepers on the moor by feeding information to the news media.
All the articles relating to the slaughtering of ponies on Dartmoor blame everyone but the pony keepers. One article claimed that due to new transport regulations the buyers were not coming to the sales from Ireland.
Why would they? They cannot sell their own ponies in Ireland and when the trade is good I would have thought that the only outlet for a lorry load of non registered, semi-feral ponies from Dartmoor to Ireland would be en route to the Continent as live exports...for meat?
Over the past 12 months or so meetings have been held on Dartmoor involving representatives from The Duchy of Cornwall, The Dartmoor Pony Society, The Dartmoor Heritage Trust, The Dartmoor Hill Pony Association, The Dartmoor National Park, Natural England and The Dartmoor Commoners Council who met under the name of the Pony Action Group (PAG).
Out of these meetings there came a ten point plan devised by the Dartmoor Hill Pony people but after due consideration the implementation of this plan was not sanctioned by all the groups at the meeting, and the request for funding by the Hill Pony people of £130,500 over three years was not forthcoming.
The foals cannot simply be weaned from their mothers and left to fend for themselves.
They need regular worming and feeding over their first winter, not taken to sales and sold for little money, often to people who haven't a clue about looking after ponies of any sort, especially foals.
The answer to the pony problem on Dartmoor is not to blame the recession, a downturn in hill-farm profits, a fall in demand for the ponies, the cost of passports, microchipping or the new transportation laws but to use a sensible economic approach to the problem.
Remove the stallions from the moor for a period of one or two years so that during that time no foals are born and therefore none will need to be slaughtered.
This is the approach already being operated by responsible pony keepers and breeders of Pedigree Dartmoor and Heritage Dartmoor ponies on areas of the moor.