Listen now 15 mins
They are some of the oldest wild inhabitants of the British Isles, they pulled Bronze Age chariots and feature in literature and paintings through the centuries. In a second series of Essays on five native wild animals, the poet and writer Ruth Padel investigates how our reactions to wild ponies have been subconsciously shaped by centuries of folklore, literature and biology.
From the shaggy Exmoor pony, 'Skipper', on whom she learned to ride, to the Shetland ponies who were often used down the mines, Ruth explores how different breeds have lived and been used in Britain. She describes how they are evoked in poetry by John Betjeman and U.A Fanthorpe and paintings by the 'Ashington' group of pit painters.
The Essay also looks at the questions over the long term survival and stability of wild ponies. How can they survive the problems of surplus stock, dropping sale prices and over-attentive visitors?
Producer: Emma Kingsley.
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