The Hidden Hoofbeat of Britain & Ireland

The U.K. has a number of ancient native pony breeds, also known as Mountain and Moorland ponies. Many of these breeds descend from semiferal herds in a particular region, which gives them unique characteristics and behaviours suited to that environment. Many of these pony breeds still roam in large semiferal herds, in wide open spaces such as in the Lake District and on Exmoor. This continuation of the semiferal herds is is crucial to protecting the unique ancient genepools that were historically favoured by people, and gives these pony breeds their ability to thrive in extreme climates. Today, breeders with extensive commoners’ grazing rights and conservation schemes are the last strongholds of our mountain and moorland ponies in their native environments. Many of these breeds are at high risk of becoming extinct. If that happened, we would lose a great deal of our heritage and history. The ponies and horses help shape and sculpt our landscape and industry; from working in mines to hauling seaweed – the scope of their influence is enormous. Ruth is travelling around Britain and Ireland in order to document the wonderful and rare native horse and pony breeds. She aims to create a book, with information and history for each breed, in order to promote them and raise awareness of the situation they are currently in.

Dales Pony

Teesdale region, northern England

Priority Breed

Eriskay pony

Isle of Eriskay, Outer Hebrides

Priority Breed

Exmoor pony

Exmoor, southwest England

Priority Breed

Fell pony

Cumbria, northern England

At Risk Breed

Highland pony

Highlands & Islands, Scotland

At Risk Breed

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