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28 October 2014

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Dartmoor Ponies are saved by scheme
Dartmoor ponies
Ponies on Dartmoor
The Dartmoor National Park Authority has stepped in to ensure the future of the Dartmoor Pony.

The authority has decided to subsidise moorland farmers to keep up to 10 mares each.

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The pony was chosen as the logo of the Dartmoor National Park Authority when it was established in 1951.

The oldest evidence of ponies on Dartmoor was 200BC, at Shaugh Moor when hoof prints were found within the boundaries of a Bronze Age settlement.

In the past, the ponies have been used as pack animals carrying granite, wool, and other materials. They also carried carts to market.

Although they roam, the ponies are not wild - they are owned by farmers with grazing rights.

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One of Devon's best loved symbols - the Dartmoor Pony - is to be saved from dying out after a move by the Dartmoor National Park Authority.

There were fears the symbol of Dartmoor would disappear due to the introduction of new European regulations.

Farmers feared the cost of providing each pony with its own individual paperwork identification under the new rules would make them too expensive to keep.

Pony symbol on the Dartmoor National Park sign
The pony is the symbol of Dartmoor National Park
But the National Park Authority has now stepped in and agreed to subsidise pony farming.

The Authority plans to subsidise farmers to keep up to 10 mares each.

It will mean fewer ponies on Dartmoor, but they will be of a better quality.

That, in turn, should prompt a revival of markets for them - either for children to ride or for export for meat.

Park Authority spokesman Robert Steemson said: "The pony is our emblem so it is very important. The Dartmoor pony is recognised throughout the world and it is what a lot of visitors come to see."

Dartmoor farmer George Shillibeer has traditionally lost money on the ponies and wondered how long he could afford to continue keeping them.

He said he was pleased their future was now being protected. "It is important to keep up the tradition of the ponies. They are a great attraction to visitors."

No price has yet been put on the pony protection scheme, but it is expected to cost the authority tens of thousands of pounds.

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