Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Dartmoor Pony

Dartmoor Ponies are native to southern England. They have lived there for centuries. During the Middle Ages, the hardy little ponies hauled heavy loads from one village to another,often traveling several miles. However, in 1535, King Henry VIII passed a law to kill all horses under 14 hands, putting the tiny Dartmoor at risk. He even fined people with small horses! Later, he passed another law, changing the minimum height to 15 hands. He hoped that by doing so, bigger horses, more suitable to carrying knights in heavy armor, would be bred. Once Queen Elizabeth I took the throne, she invalidated the law. Tiny Dartmoors came into use again.

 In the eighteenth century, when mining became popular in England, the Dartmoors became pit ponies, used to haul mine carts out of the mines. Shetland blood was added to the breed by miners. After the mines closed, ponies were released into the wild.

 In the 1930s, the Dartmoor Pony came to North America for the first time. His sturdiness and kind temperament made him loved by adults and children alike. Throughout the years, as often happens to other breeds, the Dartmoor was crossbred with some other horse breeds to create a better pony. Before long, pureblood Dartmoors were becoming rare. It was Joan Dunning that had a significant influence on the breed. From the day in 1936 when Dartmoor Ponies first set foot on her farm in White Post, Virginia and forward, she bred pureblood Dartmoors, become a leading breeder in the Dartmoor Pony world. Today, her daughter, Hetty Abeles, is one of the most popular Dartmoor Pony breeders.

Dartmoors are small and sturdy, making them perfect for driving or children's mounts.
 In 1951, Dartmoor National Park was made in the area of England where the pony originated. There, the Dartmoor Ponies, some of which are owned by local farmers, are protected by the government. To further help the Dartmoor Pony, the Dartmoor Pony Moorland Scheme was founded in 1988. They helped by keeping the pony' bloodlines pure. Since then, the Dartmoor Pony has become increasingly popular in the U.S., and more and more Dartmoors have been imported from England.

Breed Description and Uses
 Dartmoors are small, sturdy ponies, standing between 11.1 to 12.2 hands high on average. Their legs are short and their head is small. Due to their small size, they are popular children's mounts. Sometimes, they are even used for driving.

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