Exmoor Ponies in the Rain

I will tell you a wonderfull story of our last day in Exmoor National Park.
As I said it was the last day in the first days of September before heading back to Germany…
The weather forecast was really bad. Cloudy and rainy. We decided to go one more time to look at the herd, me and my group of photographers followed the last days. Not for making photos only to say goodbye to them. It didn´t take a long time to find them, because we know were they are yesterday. Because of the bad weather we mentioned that they do not have done so much wandering in the night. So it was. Unfortunately we found them it began to rain. The herd were heading in direction to the coastline and we followed them. Then it begins to be excited… The Ponies went into a forest with a lot of fern and began to eat this. The conditions for making photos are the worst. No light / brightness and rain 🙂. Doesn’t matter we followed them… And then the ponies let us near to them they never did before. Saying to us: Come on human, come with us in the forest there is not so heavy rain. My serial of photos shows some of my favorites photos ever that I have done from the exmoor ponies. Never thought that on this rainy day I would make nearly 1000 photos. Enjoy!
Yours Martin Buschmann
P.S. Next year we will come back. Thank you to the wild animals and the friendly people of Porlock.

Wild Herd Whispering: New book out about Exmoor Ponies

The latest book in Dawn Westcott’s series about Exmoor Ponies is now available, just in time for Christmas!

Wild Herd Whispering is about the incredible Exmoor ponies as they reveal their true natures through the world of herd energy and dynamics.

“Starting with the dramatic winter arrival from the moor of a tiny five week old wild-born foal who faces the bleakest future, it is the big herd at Holt Ball Farm that decides how she will survive and thrive. The book follows the adventures of the ponies, revealing characters and behaviours that take you on a heart-rending, thought-provoking and enriching journey of equine enlightenment. This is an opportunity to catch up with adorable orphan Monsieur Chapeau and his friends and majestic stallion Bear, as their lives evolve and entwine with the wild herds of Exmoor. It follows the endearing, exciting and at times perilous experiences of the ponies – including unwelcome night time adventures, the quest to find foals lost in the wilderness and an entire moorland herd in jeopardy. With an expanding herd and challenges to face, author Dawn Westcott looks to the ponies themselves for help and inspiration: they in turn respond in a way that offers magical insights into what is going on in their hearts and minds.
This book is an invaluable reference for people interested in better understanding and winning the trust and friendship of ponies. It also highlights the challenges of safeguarding the endangered Exmoor ponies of Exmoor National Park.”

You can order your copy here: Wild Herd Whispering: How the enigmatic Exmoor ponies reveal what is in their hearts and minds

The first two volumes in the series are:
     

 

Exmoor Pony News

Exmoor National Park has been working closely with the Exmoor Pony Society, the Moorland Exmoor Pony Breeders Group and the Moorland Mousie Trust to develop a number of projects to support free-living Exmoor pony herds. Exmoor ponies are an important part of the landscape of the National Park and one of its special qualities.

What makes an Exmoor pony an Exmoor Pony? Trying to find the answer is one of the actions the group agreed on. In addition to the organisations mentioned, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, Defra, local vet Peter Green and Nottingham University have been working together to work out how to characterise the full genome of the Exmoor pony.  The genome is an animal’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. If the genome is defined, it will help us to understand where the pony has come from and which other breeds it is closely related to.  It could also help to guide future breeding programmes.  

During the last World War, pony numbers on Exmoor were drastically reduced – meat was in short supply and by the end of the war only around 50 ponies were left.  It is from this tiny population that all Exmoor ponies derive.  The genetic pool is, therefore, very small and it is important to try and preserve as much genetic diversity as possible to ensure the long term welfare of the ponies on the moor. 

The team is currently agreeing the scope of work and fundraising for the project. If successful, the first phase will go ahead when the ponies are collected from the moor at the annual gatherings.  Samples will be taken from the ponies and analysed by scientists at Nottingham. It is hoped that by early next year we will, for the first time, have the genome of the Exmoor pony.

Exmoor Pony Grant Fund

In another initiative, Exmoor National Park Authority has established an Exmoor Pony Grant Fund to promote and conserve free-living Exmoor ponies. Grant applications could include equipment, measures to conserve the landscape using Exmoor ponies, promotion of the breed, marketing or research.

Sarah Bryan, Head of Conservation & Access at Exmoor National Park said:

“The Exmoor landscape would be incomplete without the free living Exmoor pony and I believe that the Genome Project marks a pivotal moment in the long term survival of this endangered breed. We are delighted with the progress that is being made and look forward to seeing the results of this innovative project.

“We are also pleased to be able to announce the launch of the Exmoor Pony Grant in recognition of the essential work that owners carry out to keep these iconic herds on the moor and we look forward to receiving applications.” 

Grants of up to £500 on a total project spend of £1,000 are available. For more information visit: http://bit.ly/1XV6zCG or from Monday 6 June please contact Heather Harley, conservation officer (farming & land management) on 01398 322277, hjharley@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk

Photo taken by Nigel Stone/ENPA

Photo taken by Nigel Stone/ENPA