These animals are as iconic on the moor as the tors themselves and whilst they may not have been around as long as the tors, they are as much a part of Dartmoor as any granite rock. Some archaeological hoof prints found date back over 3500 years. Written records of the ponies go back to 1000AD, whilst ponies were use in the 1800’s to cart granite off the moor to help build the bridges and buildings in London and around Dartmoor. There are only around 1500 of these still around (as of 2016), and their number is decreasing, there have been suggestions that they need to be used for a trade to keep their numbers up, including the meat trade.
All the ponies are owned by various Dartmoor Commoners, (the farmers and residents of the Moor who have grazing rights on the open moor), and with these rights comes the responsibility of seeing that the herds of ponies are kept healthy. The ponies are very hardy and can survive in the harsh weather on Dartmoor, the role on the moor helps to protect habitats for other animals. There are 3 different types of Dartmoor pony,
First is the Purebread, which is very rare now and on the endangered species list, these tend to have solid block colours only and can be no bigger than 12.2 hands high.
Second is the Heritage pony which are similar in colouring and size as the Purebread, but they are bred on the moor.
Finally there is the Dartmoor Hill pony, which is a pony that is born and lives on the moor with parents from the moor as well. These come in all shapes and size, and tend to be crossbreeds.
Please DO NOT feed these animals, the feeding of these animals brings them closer to people and therefore to cars, which then kill them if they hit then near a road. They are wild and deserve to live their life that way.