Devon

Dartmoor pony sales are moved to spring

Dartmoor pony: Pic Eve Hotchkiss
Image caption Auctioneers said they hoped earlier auctions would mean more sales

Dartmoor's annual pony round-up and sale, the drift, is taking place on Saturday instead of in the autumn for the first time.

Hundreds of ponies are rounded up during the Dartmoor drift every autumn and sold at auction in October.

The Dartmoor Hill Pony Association said it moved the sale forward in the year because it believed June would be a much better month to trade.

It said it hoped the move would mean as many animals as possible would be sold.

'Shiny coats'

Each year, the moor is cleared of ponies; sometimes totalling up to 3,000 animals.

The hardiest, those best able to survive the winter, are returned to the moor to breed. The others are sent to market.

However, restrictions on moorland grazing mean the unsold ponies cannot be put back on the moor, so they are killed.

Association secretary Charlotte Faulkner said she believed there would be several advantages to holding the auction in the spring.

She said: "Well of course in the spring they look so much better. They've got nice shiny coats and they just look much nicer.

"Also I think that people taking on a pony in the autumn is quite difficult.

"If they take one on in the spring, the grass is growing through and people have got more time in the evenings to work with them."

If successful, the drift could be moved to springtime permanently.

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