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Exmoor Pony

Exmoor Pony - http://www.flickr.com/photos/gordiesbirdies/

The Exmoor pony is the oldest and most primitive of the British Isles native ponies, and some still roam as semi-feral livestock on Exmoor, a large area of moorland in Devon and Somerset in southwest England. The Exmoor is one of the British Isles mountain and moorland pony breeds.

Breed characteristicsEdit

The Exmoor is extremely hardy, resistant to many equine diseases, with great powers of endurance. A small, sturdy breed, it has ample bone, and can carry heavy burdens in relation to its build. It is very sure-footed, and has strong legs and feet with a smooth stride. The head is large, with small ears. The eyes have a "toad-eyed" appearance due to the fleshy rims that serve to divert water. In cold, wet winters the Exmoor grows a double coat, with a soft, woolly undercoat and a longer, oily, water-repellent outer coat. The ponies also have unique hair patterns, including a “snow-chute,” where the hair splays outward toward the dock, channelling the water away from the belly.

Exmoor ponies are usually bay, and they have tan or "mealy" Pangaré markings around the eyes and muzzle. Because similar markings occur in equines other than horses, these markings are considered to be a primitive trait in horses.

Entry in the breed registry requires that the animal has no white markings and is not too tall. They usually stand 11.1 to 12.3 hands (45 to 51 inches, 114 to 130 cm), with the height limit for mares being 12.2 hands (50 inches, 127 cm) and that for stallions and geldings 12.3 hands (51 inches, 130 cm).

Exmoors that are not feral are used for a variety of activities, including showing, jumping, long-distance riding, and driving. The breed's hardiness makes it suitable for conservation grazing, and it contributes to the management of many heathland, chalk grassland and other natural pasture habitats, as well as to the conservation of Exmoor itself.

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