PONY LOVERS HOMAGE TO DARTMOOR…
Dartmoor pony breeders from across the UK and others from Europe, Scandinavia, Australia and the USA headed for Devon for the first Dartmoor Pony Society International Convention. Ann Rogers joined them for part of their week-long programme
THE Dartmoor pony, which was almost totally confined to the West Country 30 years ago, now has a place in the hearts and paddocks of people throughout Britain and beyond.
"Theres a tremendous demand for them particularly for lead rein and first ridden ponies and there is quite a healthy demand for driving ponies as well," says Pat Robinson, chairman of the Dartmoor Pony Society. "A lot of Dartmoors are used for Riding for the Disabled and Driving for the Disabled too because they mostly have marvellous temperaments.
"A lot of ponies have gone to Sweden, Germany, France and Holland and one of our best stallions was exported to Australia last autumn, but the biggest demand is in this country," says Mrs Robinson who farms near Cullompton and raises South Devon cattle as well as Dartmoor ponies.
The Dartmoor Pony Society, now a parent to overseas societies dedicated to the breed, was started in 1924. From 1895 to 1924 Dartmoor ponies had been recorded in a section of the National Pony Society stud book, then known as the Polo Pony Society.
The DPS currently has about 500 members, some living overseas, and most years registers between 150-200 foals. Last year there were more than 200 registrations which included the first foals up-graded through the Dartmoor Pony Moorland Scheme.
The society is now run by a council of members but during the war years and until about 1959 when she retired, it was run and funded by Sylvia Calmady-Hamlyn, explains Mrs Robinson.
"And almost every pony seen in the show today is descended from her great stallion Jude," she adds, referring to the well supported classes of the DPS 56th championship show held in Bicton Arena, near Budleigh Salterton on the first day of the DPS International Convention.
The supreme championship was awarded to Mrs A Joness and Miss P Robertss 12-year-old bay stallion Hisley Salvo and the sisters, whose stud at Lustleigh, Newton Abbot was one of those visited during the course of the convention, also received the award for the best foal with their filly Hisley Prima Donna which is by the champion stallion.
Mrs Elizabeth Newbolt-Young took the female and the reserve supreme championships with her nine years old dark bay mare Shilstone Rocks Masada.
The open ridden class is a qualifying round for the Baileys Horse Feed National Pony Society Mountain and Moorland Ridden championship. The winner was Mrs N Heads 11-year-old bay White Willows Witch Doctor which was ridden by Mandy Head and which now goes through to the Olympia final.