The Exmoor pony is a specialty among the pony breeds. The little browns from England still live semi-wild in their homeland today. Their flour mouth is typical.
As friendly family ponies, they can be used for many disciplines. In this article, you will find all the important information about the robust Exmoor ponies.
The Exmoor Pony is an ancient and rare breed from England. The rather petite but powerful ponies are popular with children and adults. Their height reaches 1.15 to 1.30 meters.
The fur is brown. The lightening on the mouth, around the eyes, on the stomach, and on the inside of the thighs immediately catches the eye. They shape the typical appearance of the Exmoor ponies.
Alien races were only rarely crossed. So the Exmoor Pony has been preserved in its original form to this day. Some pony herds live free in Exmoor National Park.
The persistent Exmoor pony is well suited as a children’s pony. Many animals also like to jump. Even adults can ride ponies on Exmoor. The nimble animals are extremely sure-footed.
This makes them ideal for cross-country rides. The friendly and frugal ponies are also used in front of the car and for landscape maintenance.
Size: 115-130 cm
Weight: 200 – 250 kg
Lifespan: 25-30 years
Color: Brown, lightening of the head and stomach
Origin and breed history
The Exmoor pony comes from the southwest of England, namely from the area of today’s counties Devon and Somerset. The Exmoor National Park is also located here. The region was named after the River Exe.
The English term “Moor” does not quite correspond to German usage. Fallow land, heather, and rocky terrain are also called this. The Exmoor region is hardly usable for agriculture.
The rough coast as well as the moorland and heathland of Exmoor have decisively shaped the pony breed.
Exmoor ponies are tough, love horse company, cope perfectly with cold weather, and cannot tolerate rich feed. The Exmoor pony is primarily found in the UK, mainland Europe, and North America.
The breed likely evolved from Celtic ponies who came to Britain in the Bronze Age. The animals have lived in Exmoor at least since the 11th century.
The Exmoor ponies developed without any influence from breeding for centuries. Natural selection, socialization in the herd, rough weather, and food shortages formed the typical breed characteristics.
In the past, the Exmoor pony was used as a carrying and draft animal in agriculture. Today the animals are mainly used as riding ponies. They are also used in landscape maintenance.
Examples are the Solling-Vogler Nature Park in the Weser Uplands and the West Frisian island of Texel.
Preservation of the breed
The Exmoor Pony Society has been watching over the breed since it was founded in 1921. Only ponies of the original type were entered in the studbook. The studbook was closed in 1962.
All registered Exmoor ponies are descended from 9 founder stallions and around 50 founder mares. Even today, free herds of Exmoor ponies roam the Exmoor area. Breeding stallions are used specifically to preserve the breed.
The semi-wild animals have owners. The herds are rounded up every autumn and the foals are examined by judges. DNA tests confirm the parentage in the semi-wild herds.
For an entry in the register, the foals must have parents who are registered in the studbook. If the foal meets the breed criteria, it is also entered in the register and released again.
If the foal does not pass the evaluation, it will be referred. In the 1970s, some Exmoor ponies came to Germany. But they were not registered.
Inspectors and judges have been coming to Germany since the early 1990s to register foals here too. The total number of Exmoor ponies alive is difficult to determine.
Herds, whose task is the natural maintenance of the landscape, exist in several European countries. The Exmoor ponies in such projects are often not registered.
The appearance of the Exmoor pony
The Exmoor pony is well proportioned and looks quite elegant for a sturdy pony. The brown coat color can vary. There are light-, dark- and black-brown animals. White markings are not allowed.
The light-colored mouth region, the so-called flour mouth, is striking. Lighter fur around the eyes is also typical of Exmoor ponies. They also have lightened fur under their belly and on the inside of their thighs. Many wild animals have this type of coat.
It ensures good camouflage in the field. Exmoor ponies have a sturdy head with small, flexible ears, a broad forehead, and large nostrils.
The thick mane protects against bad weather. The neck and shoulders are muscular. The broad chest offers enough space for the high lung volume of the enduring animals.
With their strong, rather short backs and strong legs and joints, Exmoor ponies are more resilient than they initially appear.
Perfectly adapted to the environment
The Exmoor ponies have developed hard hooves and strong muscles through their life in swampy terrain with stony slopes. They are very sure-footed and get along well even in difficult terrain.
The ponies move forward with long, flowing, and rather flat movements. In this way, they run energy-saving and without stumbling through the impassable moorland.
The Exmoor pony has a short and shiny summer coat. The two-layer structure of the winter coat is remarkable. The bottom layer is dense and greasy. They are excellent at isolating.
The hard outer hair is longer and dissipates the rain. The winter fur insulates so well that sometimes snow remains on the horse’s back without melting from the body heat.
In addition, the animals are used to looking for food in a barren landscape for many hours a day. With their strong teeth and pronounced chewing surfaces, they can chop up the hard food well.
Overall, Exmoor ponies are ideally suited to life in rough terrain with little shelter. Windy, damp, or cold weather doesn’t bother you.
Temperament and essence
The Exmoor pony has long lived in nature without humans. That is why it has excellent instincts. Intelligent animals sometimes react idiosyncratically. An Exmoor pony is not prone to shyness or runaway.
In his original living environment with bog and rocks, this behavior could have quickly led to death. An Exmoor pony is friendly but reserved towards strangers.
It shows a pronounced social behavior – both in the herd and towards people. With patience and time, Exmoor ponies develop into strong-nerved partners for children and adults.
Then they show what they can do as willing riding ponies for the whole family. Whether on the riding arena, on endurance rides in the field, or while jumping – ponies of this breed are available for everything.
The Exmoor Pony is also suitable as a therapy horse. The animals also cut a fine figure in front of the wagon or at horse shows. Boredom leads to undesirable behaviors in the Exmoor pony – but this is true of many pony breeds.
With enough activity, Exmoor ponies are treasures on four hooves that enrich the family with balanced, friendly, and persistent features.
Husbandry and nutrition
Like all representatives of the original pony breeds, the Exmoor pony loves life with lots of exercise and freedom of movement in a herd. The pure box position is not suitable for them.
There are several types of husbandry with plenty of incentive to move that are recommended for an Exmoor pony:
The animals live in groups in open and loose stalls. You enjoy free access to the outside.
Movement or active stalls with various feeding stations ensure that the animals move from feeder to feeder.
Circular runs and paddock trails imitate the living conditions of free-range ponies as closely as possible. Distributed stations with roughage, salt licks, rolling areas, and shady areas as well as different soil conditions ensure variety. The animals cover longer distances every day.
Structured roughage is best for the Exmoor pony. The animals need significantly less energy than modern sport horses. The high-performance grass on normal pastures is designed for the needs of dairy cows.
This means that these meadows are too rich for robust ponies. Such pastures quickly lead to diseases such as obesity and laminitis. Because wild ponies run 15 to 20 kilometers every day to find enough food.
Only then do exercise and food supply goes hand in hand. Plenty of exercise, poor pastures, roughage, and only limited access to lush green meadows keep your Exmoor pony healthy.
Education and care
The Exmoor pony is not big, but tough and persistent. So it can be carried by both children and adults if they are not too heavy.
The Exmoor pony moves swiftly but is rarely shy. Its pronounced social behavior makes it a reliable family horse. The wild ancestors had to take care of themselves and make their own decisions.
Exmoor ponies show this behavior to this day. They thank their owners for a patient upbringing and animal welfare.
Then the animals work enthusiastically in a wide variety of disciplines: They are happy to be used as jumping, endurance, or driving horses.
Caring for an Exmoor pony is easy. The sturdy browns got along well without people for many centuries.
Even so, you should make sure that your pony is busy and not injured. It is important to regularly check whether your animal is doing well.
Health and Typical Diseases
The Exmoor pony is very robust due to its origin. Its fur provides excellent protection against cold, wind, and moisture. Exmoor ponies are at risk from the excessive feed.
Robust breeds are easy to feed and naturally require less food than other horse breeds. A lack of exercise and being overweight can quickly lead to laminitis. Laminitis is often caused by the metabolic disease EMS, the equine metabolic syndrome.
In this disease, the supply of the cells with glucose and the insulin balance is disturbed. Give your Exmoor pony enough activity and exercise in horse company. Roughage such as hay is the main food.
Ration the feed with a sense of proportion so that your pony does not get fat. Then you have a good chance of enjoying a healthy and lively Exmoor pony for a long time.
The life expectancy of the Exmoor pony
Exmoor ponies are very resilient. Exercise, employment, horse company, and a well-dosed range of roughage keep you fit.
When properly cared for, an Exmoor pony can live to be around 27 years old.
Buy Exmoor Pony horse breed
The Exmoor pony is a rare breed of pony. The animals are rarely offered in the usual Internet horse exchanges or at dealers.
Questions before buying a horse
Before buying an Exmoor pony, there are a few questions you should honestly answer:
- Can you pay for the Exmoor pony purchase?
- Will the money be enough for veterinary costs, accommodation, food, blacksmith, and accessories in the long term?
- Are there suitable herds and accommodation options in your area?
- Can someone take care of the animal if you don’t have time?
Do you like to go off-road? Then a sure-footed Exmoor pony suits you well. Its soft gaits and stamina are perfect for long tours outdoors.
With an Exmoor pony, you have a reliable partner by your side. Exmoor ponies are extremely tough. Nevertheless, they need shelter in the pasture if there are no valleys and thick bushes to protect them from the weather.
The herd animals feel particularly comfortable in the company of horses. The versatile leisure ponies impress with their friendly and fearless nature.
Especially for children and teenagers, they are pleasant to handle and under the saddle.