Slaughter Plan Proposed for the Rare Dartmoor Pony
 By Winniefield Park   •   9th Dec 2014   •   4,121 views   •   3 comments
Slaughter Plan Proposed for the Rare Dartmoor Pony

Is the key to ensuring a pony’s survival putting them on someone’s dinner plate? This is what is being proposed by The Dartmoor Hill Pony Association. Unlike the feral herds of the American mid-west, Chincoteague and Sable Island, the feral ponies that roam the moors of south-western England have owners who have grazing rights on the commons. They share the space with free-roaming sheep herds and cattle, along with a diverse wildlife population. They have become an important part of the ecosystem, keeping gorse under control and eating plants less appealing to cattle and sheep.

Herds don’t range as they please. Most livestock is encouraged to stay within a certain area, called a lear. The ponies however, roam further afield, requiring them to be ‘drifted’ or rounded up into a pound, where the owners separate those they own, and return them to their home pastures. The previous spring’s foals are weaned from their mothers and either branded and returned to the moor, or sold. The money earned from selling the young stock or others culled from the moor is used to maintain the rest of the herd throughout the year.

The Dartmoor Hill Pony, and the purebred Dartmoor Pony, is a hardy pony, capable of carrying heavy loads. Since medieval times, they were used as pit ponies, most commonly in the tin mines of the Dartmoor region. Today, The Dartmoor Hill pony, and the purebred registered Dartmoor Pony is used as a child’s mount, and for driving. But, as many of us know, pony or horse keeping can be expensive and this is one of the main reasons there is less demand for ponies overall. The last pony sale in April of 2014 only sold 14 of 100 foals offered. This decreased demand leaves farmers wondering what to do with each foal crop, whether they be registered Dartmoors, or the mixed breed ponies like those of the Dartmoor Hill.

Related: Would You Ever Eat Horse Meat
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Related: What Will Happen to the Sable Island Ponies

Dartmoor ponies numbers, whether entered in the studbook, or of untraceable lineage roaming on the moor are in a dangerous decline. The Dartmoor Pony is recognized as a rare breed by Britain’s Rare Breed Trust. Various groups are looking at ways to preserve the breed. One suggestion has been to sell the ponies for meat. And, even with Princess Anne’s endorsement, that selling horses for meat would ensure their standard of care, the idea does not sit well with many pony lovers.

The Dartmoor Hill Pony Association is looking at selling ponies for meat as one way to maintain the dwindling numbers of feral horses. Selling ponies for meat could make it worthwhile for farmers to maintain their herds. While the horse loving Brits may find eating horsemeat distasteful, neighbors such as France, Belgium and Holland, where horse meat is often on the menu, might provide a profitable market.

The Dartmoor Pony Society is vehement in differentiating themselves from The Dartmoor Hill Pony Association and does not support any proposal to market pony meat. They, like many others, say the answer is proper management. Contraceptives for both mares and stallions have been tried, but of course, this adds to the expense of maintaining a herd, with no return income. So, this suggestion of selling ponies for horse meat has been tentatively put forward, while North Americans have resoundingly agreed that horses are not for eating. What do you think? .
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  Winniefield Park
Kaylied Estal  
I personally think that its a good idea, people might not like it but there isnt the demand that is needed to keep the breeds alive
  Dec 11, 2014  •  4,105 views
Flemmy spare
The hill pony is nothing like the purebred. They are smaller and not wanted. They get fed to zoo animals, or shipped overseas.
I can't see how putting them on a plate is going to help, the zoo takes them.
  Dec 18, 2014  •  3,977 views
I dont agree with this and i think we should try to protect every horse breed because alll of them are God's creation.
  Dec 27, 2014  •  3,887 views
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