Dartmoor ponies set to graze on Thetford Forest land

The Dartmoor ponies at Thetford Forest The Dartmoor ponies at Thetford Forest

Monday, May 5, 2014
7:00 PM

A sight usually reserved for Devon moorlands will become familiar to a Norfolk forest after 12 ponies arrived in the county.

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The Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) has taken delivery of the Dartmoor ponies, which will graze a number of key sites within Thetford forest, including former forestry areas restored to heathland.

The Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust (DPHT) delivered the ponies.

Five pony keepers and farmers benefited from the sale of their stock, which have been prepared by the DPHT for new roles as conservation grazing animals for NWT on Norfolk Heathland.

The selection, handling and transport of the ponies was provided and organised by the DPHT as part of its on-going work to support the Dartmoor Pony on Dartmoor by seeking good homes for the ponies and ensuring a realistic income for the pony keepers who breed them.

The DPHT, based at Parke, Bovey Tracey has been working closely with NWT and provides on-going support to its wardens.

The trust sourced moor–bred, hardy, conservation grazing ponies suitable for thriving on coarse vegetation, which was the brief given by the NWT to help them create and maintain important wildlife areas.

John Milton, head of nature reserves for NWT, said: “The DPHT has sourced Dartmoor ponies for NWT for six years.

“As well as faring well on the mixed mire/heath sites of Norfolk, areas not dissimilar to Dartmoor, we have found the breed does well on grass heaths of the Norfolk Brecks, where other livestock have tended to loose condition.”

He added: “The personality of these animals also helps to avoid issues with visitors, as the ponies are wary of close contact with people.

“As well as providing an important role in conservation grazing, NWT welcomes the opportunity to assist in the preservation of the breed. The NWT herd is now a significant herd for the preservation of the breed outside Dartmoor.”

NWT has purchased over 140 ponies through the DPHT.

Judy Fawcett, DPHT chairman, said: “Placement of the group of mares, all under five years old, will also ensure that we have a herd of good quality pedigree and Heritage Dartmoor Ponies which our pony keepers could draw upon in the case of a future major geographical disease. This could further threaten the remaining herds of Dartmoor ponies left on the moor.”

Are you interested in Dartmoor ponies? Email dominic.bareham2@archant.co.uk.

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