The Proper Job carrier bag contributions to the Exmoor Pony Project are a great help. We have over 30 Exmoor ponies in our direct care on the farm – many who would not be here today without this project – and we help and support many others. They come from various different herds and include orphan foals, ranging in age from foals to veterans – and include colts, fillies, mares, geldings and stallions. After one of the toughest winters in recent years, which significantly increased forage, care and labour costs for the ponies, we’ve had one of the hottest summers and a drought that has seen no let up with the costs. Donations from Proper Job customers have helped us to face these challenges. We’re also continuing to improve training facilities for the ponies and starting to replace much needed equipment.
Our work involves collaborating with other herd owners to improve breeding practices and Moorland management; campaigning for welfare and registration improvements; promoting this ancient native pony breed; and trying to find good opportunities for the ponies, particularly foals leaving the moors each autumn. The Exmoor pony is categorised as an Endangered Breed (Rare Breeds Survival Trust) and foal registrations are in decline with fewer than 60 pedigree female foals registered last year, worldwide.
A key area of our work is encouraging better treatment and understanding of Exmoor ponies, which focuses on building trust and confidence during taming, handling and training – and bringing out the best in them. Our approach is about ‘taking the time it takes’ and encouraging two-way communication with the ponies, through liberty interactions and play, and group schooling. We are also researching and developing more natural ways of keeping and managing Exmoor ponies, in ground, that better suits how they like to live and keeps them healthy.
We are helping to safeguard the small but important population of good quality, purebred Exmoor ponies that, through no fault of their own, are currently excluded from proper registration and recognition within the Exmoor pony breed. These ponies are valuable to the tiny Exmoor pony gene pool and systems need to be evolved to embrace and protect them.
All this takes considerable time and resource and sometimes it is very difficult to make ends meet. We’re making some great progress, but the Exmoor Pony Project does need support to maintain and develop. We’re not a charity – we’re a pioneering project focused on helping Exmoor ponies that needs a combination of commercial income, along with sponsorship and donations, to work.
Further information about the Exmoor ponies and our work can be found in the Wild Pony Whispering, Wild Stallion Whispering and While Herd Whispering books.
We very much appreciate the support of Proper Job and its amazing customers at the Exmoor Pony Project. Thank you.