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Monday to Friday 16-20 January 2006 3.45pm-4.00pm

In this five part series, presenter Dylan Winter explores the blend of genes, breeding, influences of domestication and use across the centuries that has resulted in the nine recognised native pony breeds found on the British Isles today. Rare Steeds charts the history, innate character and importance of these breeds and their changing fortunes and relevance in modern day Britain.

On the trail of the Native Pony
On the trail of the Native Pony

Programme 1: Designed by Nature
16 January 2006 at 3.45pm

Dylan Winter begins his quest in the freezing cold and windswept heights of Exmoor in search of the "horsebeast" - the name originally given to the Exmoor pony.

Whilst there, he discovers how this native pony has adapted to its environment and the origins of what is thought to be the original British hill pony.

Related links:
Article about native ponies "Miracles of Survival"
Exmoor Pony Society

 Listen again to Programme 1

Programme 2: Highlands and Islands
17 January 2006 at 3.45pm

As it has been for centuries, the Highland Pony is still used today to carry stags on its back down from the Scottish hills after a shoot.

Dylan discovers these broad-chested ponies have formidable strength but biddable natures which have found them a legion of enthusiastic owners across the British Isles.

Its diminutive island neighbour, the Shetland, is the strongest pony in the world relative to its tiny size.

Related links:
Highland Pony Society
Shetland Pony Stud Book Society

 Listen again to Programme 2

Programme 3: On Fell and In Dale
18 January 2006 at 3.45pm

The hills and valleys of Cumbria are home to two native pony breeds - the Fell and the Dales.

The Fell and Dales pony are very similar in appearance, with only a matter of inches and a few features in difference between them.

Dylan discovers the uses man has put these ponies to across the centuries and how local owners and breeders maintain the ponies' working traditions.

Related links:
Fell Pony Society
Dales Pony Society

 Listen again to Programme 3

Programme 4: Celtic Connections
19 January 2006 at 3.45pm

The Welsh Pony has more divisions in its stud book than any other native pony breed; four different types called the Section A, B, C and D.

Like many native pony breeds, to find appropriate uses for them, man has selectively bred for certain features.

The Connemara pony comes originally from the West coast of Ireland, and the breed is enjoying great success in the show ring.

In 2005, a Connemara stallion won both the Pony of the Year and the Mountain and Moorland Championships at the Horse of the Year Show and the London International Horse Show at Olympia.

Breed societies exist to encourage interest in the breeds and to help try and promote breeding.  This keeps the ponies true to their original type without losing their distinctive features which have allowed them to survive through thousands of years.

Related links:
Welsh Pony and Cob Society
British Connemara Pony Society

 Listen again to Programme 4

Programme 5: Fit for the Future
20 January 2006 at 3.45pm

Britain's native pony breeds have lost much of their everyday use as working ponies, as a result of two centuries of rapid industrialisation across the landscape.

Native ponies are now mainly used for riding and leisure purposes.

With many breeding populations of ponies in decline, Dylan finds out how important it is to keep free-living herds of ponies on their natural mountain and moorland homes as well as retain their popularity with prospective owners.

Related links:
Dartmoor Pony Society
New Forest Pony Society
Eriskay Pony Society

 Listen again to Programme 5
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