Guest Author - Kim Wende
The Dartmoor is a native pony breed from England. They got their name from the land they call home which is the Moorlands. These ponies have a great temperament and are used in a variety of disciplines. The make excellent children's ponies and are great for driving events.
Dartmoor's come in all sizes up to 12.2hh and colors. Excessive white marking are highly discouraged. Piebalds and Skewbalds are not allowed in the breed. They have great stamina and were used in the mines. Between 1789 and 1832 there was an infusion of Shetland blood into the breed to reduce the size of the pony for the mines. Other breeds that were infused into the breed were an Arabian stallion Dwarka, a Welsh pony Dinarth Spark and a Fell pony.
The Dartmoor ponies have small heads, large eyes and small alert ears. The neck should have a medium length with a fine set jaw and throat. Their shoulders should be sloping and well laid-back with withers that are not well pronounced.
The body has a medium length with a deep heart girth. The hindquarters are strong and of medium length. Their mane and tail are full and flowing with the tail set being set high. The movement should be without exaggeration and be low and straight coming from the shoulder with good hock action.
The first attempt to register these ponies was in 1898 which lead to the formation of a studbook. In 1925 the first registry came into existence which was the Dartmoor Pony Society. There is also the Dartmoor Pony Registry of American which was founded in 1956 it is a private organization which maintains the official studbook for the Dartmoor ponies in America.
Sadly the Dartmoor ponies keep declining in numbers as the farmers have not found value in keeping them because of the decline in prices. These ponies are now in danger of extinction. In the 1950s the numbers were estimated to be 30,000 on the moor and now the ponies are in the hundreds.
The Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust was formed in 2005 to protect the remaining gene pool and to save the ponies from extinction for future generations.
There are breeders in the United States so if you are interested in a Dartmoor get in touch with one of the associations as they will be able to point you in the right direction. This is a wonderful breed of pony with good bone and an excellent temperament.