Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Exmoor ponies in the spring

At Exmoor House we’ve had several people staying who were going to the Exmoor Pony Centre to visit a pony they’d adopted. A free afternoon last weekend coincided with the centre's Easter open day, so we went along to have a look for ourselves: a chance to see some of these unique and fascinating little horses close up.    

Some of the visitors were queuing to groom a patient pony until it positively gleamed; others took a ride round the field. The rest of the resident ponies were feeding, posing for pictures or basking in the sun. Most still had some at least of their thick winter coats, though I suspect they'll now be losing them rapidly.

The centre, with the Moorland Mousie Trust (Moorland Mousie is the pony protagonist of a children’s book) works ‘to promote and conserve the Exmoor pony’. Staff and volunteers help to re-home ponies, mainly excess young foals from the moor. As well as adopting a pony, there is the opportunity to sponsor a foal. In addition you can book a taster session to learn about caring for ponies, or a moorland ride.

No ponies on Winsford Hill that day; perhaps they were all at the centre! We carried on into Dulverton after our visit, calling in to the Town Mills (highly recommended) for tea & cake and visiting the Heritage Centre (lots to see, including this time a display of work by local artists and an exhibition about Exmoor Horn sheep).

It was a perfect sunny spring day: big skies, soft light, hazy shadows... The circular route we followed, from Wheddon Cross to Exford, on to Dulverton via Winsford Hill and Ashwick and back through Bridgetown, shows off some of the amazing variety of Exmoor's scenery.

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