The Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust has launched a crowdfunder appeal to support its work in preserving the future of the iconic symbol of Dartmoor.
The Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust has announced the new fundraising initiative and is increasing support for Dartmoor pony breeders and keepers in a bid to halt a worrying decline in the number of native Dartmoor ponies being bred on the moor.
The charity has put in place measures to incentivise Dartmoor pony breeders and keepers to retain their herds as the cost of living crisis, which include an extremely poor harvest of 2022, and much higher fuel, feed, bedding and fertiliser costs, put them under increasing financial pressure.
It is hoped that by introducing this support key bloodlines and irreplaceable gene pools will be retained, allowing the native Dartmoor pony - those that are born and bred on Dartmoor, are true to type, and single in colour - continue to thrive.
These ponies, also known as the Heritage Dartmoor Pony, are in decline. The available gene pool and the rare bloodlines have been depleting for a number of years.
DPHT chairman Malcolm Snelgrove said: ‘Unless we step in to encourage breeders and keepers to continue keeping ponies on Dartmoor, those hardy, resilient, native Dartmoor ponies, which are a welcome sight at the moment, could be consigned to history. We need to step in and take action now.’
The DPHT was established nearly 20 years ago to protect and preserve as a species the native ponies of Dartmoor for the benefit of the public. It also has several other roles. It works to educate the public in relation to the wider aspects of Dartmoor’s landscape, biodiversity, archaeology and heritage, which the charity hosts through its free guided walks at Bellever, a 450ha site it manages where it runs a herd of native Dartmoor ponies; or through education days at its headquarters at Parke, Bovey Tracey.
However, all this comes at a cost. So to ensure support for the pony keepers is ongoing and native Dartmoor ponies remain on Dartmoor for everyone to enjoy, the DPHT has launched a fresh fundraising initiative to support its work.
Chairman Malcolm Snelgrove said: ‘The launch of a crowdfunder will help raise funds and awareness of the very serious threat to the future of the native Dartmoor pony and to ensure we can continue to support breeders and keepers for the foreseeable future.
‘There are other ways the public can support the charity’s work too such as making a donation, becoming a member of the charity, or volunteering.’
Margaret Rogers, a generational farmer who breeds ponies on Dartmoor, said: ‘The extra support from the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust is like a comfort blanket for us providing important funds to help with forage, castration, microchipping, passports, inoculations, wormers, handling of the ponies and most importantly, it helps us find a market so that we can sell the ponies that we breed as children’s riding ponies or for conservation grazing.’
To access the crowdfunding campaign go to https://dpht.co.uk