The Exmoor Pony is a rare breed of pony which originated on Exmoor, a desolate area of southwestern Britain. Ponies still run on the moors and their purity is guarded by The Exmoor Pony Society.
The Exmoor pony has a number of distinguishing features.
- Dun coloring with dark points and a "mealy" muzzle, as well as mealy coloring around the eyes and the underbelly.
- A unique "toad" eye in which the heavy top lid gives a hooded appearance.
- An "ice"tail, with a disctinctive fan of short hair at the top
- A coat which is virtually double-textured. In winter it is thick, harsh and almost waterproof; in summer it is sleek and has a metallic sheen.
- A distinctive jaw formation and the beginnings of a seventh molar, found in no other living equine, but similar to folssils found from the Pleistocene era.
A Versatile Pony
The height limit for the Exmoor Pony is 12.2 hands for mares and 12.3 hands for stallions. Their good sloping shoulders, short back and powerful quarters make them good riding ponies. They are, of course, excellent for children, but their outstanding strength makes them capable of carrying adults. They are also excellent harness ponies, easy to match into teams.
The Exmoor Pony Today
Most of the world's population of Exmoor ponies today exist in three herds on Exmoor, in Devon and Somerset. Small numbers are bred in other areas, but they tend to lose type outside the harsh environment on the moors. The moor-bred ponies are useful as a foundation stock for breeding bigger horses.
In recent years, the Exmoor Pony has been used in conservation efforts in various areas around Britain. Their grazing controls invading species of plants and allows, in many cases, endangered species to rebound, restoring the natural balance.