Wednesday, 25 September 2013

"Dartmoor ponies culled and their hides made into drums used in Druid style retreats"

Some of you may have seen this article in The Daily Mail published on Sunday...( and it just goes to show how far things are from having a sustainable future on Dartmoor for the ponies that live there and how far we are from having people truly responsible and caring for the future of the ponies.

The breeders of the "purebred" Dartmoor ponies abandoned keeping their ponies on the moor long ago.  Breeders of heritage ponies removed or vasectimised stallions to reduce numbers and try to control breeding...and then we have the Hill Pony Breeders.  Determined to have their own way - to farm ponies for slaughter to make money, and at the same time raising money as a charity to "Save The Pony" - the very ones they themselves are slaughtering!  Some breeders of Hill ponies who wanted to stop breeding and removed stallions have been put in a hopeless situations - without a governing/overseeing body other unscrupulous breeders can do exactly as they want and turn stallions out on the moor to cover the mares...which is why so many unwanted foals are born.

Over the last few years we have seen the most appalling welfare cases involving Hill Ponies, been told by breeders that that it is their given right to mutilate ponies by cutting pieces off of their ears (even thought it's illegal!) and to hot brand them...we've seen Hill Ponies illegally transported long-distance to Europe for meat, and I strongly believe that they have also been involved in the Horse Meat Scandal (why else were meat men buying large numbers of ponies at markets and prepared to pay the huge fuel costs of transporting across the country...if it made a profit to slaughter them locally at Potters near Taunton, the farmers would have done it themselves).

Most pony and horse owners will tell you that you can't earn money from keeping them and it's about time that this fact was accepted - and many of the breeders are not poor - the Defra farm payment subsidy list quotes the subsidies some of these moorland breeders receive per year - £185,408.87, another £161,758.82, another £116,771.04...

If they wanted to, they could stop this right now and remove the stallions from the moors - but they refuse...not based on any factual evidence...but because they don't want to.

One day maybe our dream will come true - a central organisation for each moor - that owns the ponies (not separate breeders who can do whatever they want) and is led by someone who actually understands them and truly cares for their future and welfare.  The moor will have a proper environmental survey to determine the number of ponies needed to sustainably graze it and each area will only breed with a long-term aim to maintain those numbers.  Any colts that are born as part of that scheme are gelded and returned to the moor, or are properly handled and then rehomed.  The organisation would also be fully responsible for the welfare of those ponies.  Stallions would be kept in an area off of the moor.

We're a hundred million years away from anything like that at the moment..instead we are supposed to think that a Dartmoor Hill Pony hide drum is a "Symbol of the ponies' voice...calling you to listen to their cry for support to help them continue looking after Dartmoor"...

...I wonder what the ponies would have to say on the matter!

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