The Dartmoor Pony: All About This Popular Children’s Riding Breed


The Dartmoor Pony is a breed of pony from the country of England which is used mainly for driving and children’s riding. This adorable pony breed is actually a native pony breed that is said to have been in the country of England since before the Middle Ages. Today, this breed is seen all over the world doing a variety of different things.

What Is A Dartmoor Pony?

A Dartmoor pony is a pony from the country of England that today is seen all over the globe doing things anywhere from driving carts to being ridden by children. The Dartmoor pony can come in the normal base colors seen in horses: these being bay, gray, chestnut, and black. the most common color that these ponies are seen as is bay. These ponies are fairly average in size as far as ponies are concerned and stand up to 12.2 hands high on average. The Dartmoor pony has an excellent temperament which is what makes it so popular for children’s riding.

How Big Are These Ponies?

Dartmoor ponies, because they are ponies, are quite small as you can imagine. When it comes to height, these ponies will usually stand at heights below 12.2 hands high though some are known to stand a little taller. The reason they are mainly ridden by children rather than adults is mainly because of their small height.

These ponies are fairly light in weight as they are lighter in build than most other ponies are. They weigh around 400 to 450 pounds on average (200 Kilograms).

What Colors Can Dartmoor Ponies Be?

Dartmoor ponies can actually come in a few different colors. The colors allowed in this breed include:

  • Bay (includes blood bay, light bay, dark bay and black bay)
  • Gray (includes white/gray, dappled gray, and flea bitten gray)
  • Chestnut (includes liver chestnut, light chestnut, flaxen chestnut, and sorrel)
  • Black

The History Of The Dartmoor Pony

The Dartmoor pony is an ancient breed whose origins begin in the country of England, specifically in the region of England known as Devon.

These ponies are native to this portion of England and have remained semi-wild for several centuries. They are even known to have roamed the fields and plains of England since before the Middle Ages!

Over the course of their existence, the Dartmoor has almost gone extinct a number of times. One of these times was between the years 1789 and 1832. It was during this time that the Industrial revolution was underway. The need for horses, especially small ponies, began to decrease immensely. To help save these numbers, Shetland pony bloodlines were bred into the breed to make a desirable pit pony for working in the mines and doing other extensive labor.

With the breed making a rough comeback, they took another hit during the first and second world wars. The reason for this was not because of use by the cavalry, it was more so the fact that the wild Dartmoor’s habitat was taken over by the English military for training purposes.

In an attempt to save the dwindling numbers of these ponies, blood from the Arabian and Welsh Mountain were added to not only improve the breed, but add fresh genetics to the closely bred gene pool.

Once being brought back from near extinction, the Dartmoor’s popularity skyrocketed and today they are incredibly popular and in high demand because of their natural jumping ability and the overall demand for children’s riding and showing ponies.

How To Identify The Dartmoor Pony

The Dartmoor pony can be identified by a few different traits. The traits that make these ponies easy to identify include their:

Size

One way to identify this breed is by looking at the size of these ponies. These ponies are naturally small and seeing a pony of their color, conformation, and size makes these ponies partially identifiable by their size.

Temperament

These ponies are commonly used as children riding ponies and this is partly because of their amazing temperament. These ponies are pretty docile for the most part and have naturally docile temperaments.

Legs

Part of the reason why these ponies are so small is because of the fact that they have such short legs. These ponies have short stocky legs that are known to be quite strong despite their size.

Mane & Tail

Like many pony breeds, Dartmoor ponies have an extremely thick mane and tail.

Back

One thing that makes these ponies so strong naturally is their short, strong, compact back. This is partly what makes them so strong as it allows them to carry much stronger loads or pull much heavier things if needed.

What Is The Difference Between The Dartmoor & The Exmoor Pony

These ponies are confused all the time because of their similar names, conformations, and popularity. The difference is not only the fact that these ponies are two completely different breeds, but the Exmoor comes only in dun or bay, while the Dartmoor can come in a larger variety of colors.

What Are Dartmoor Ponies Used For & Good At?

There really are two main things that these ponies are truly good at. These things are:

General Riding

General riding is probably the most common use for these ponies. These ponies make a great riding pony for children because of their smaller size and great temperaments. They are used in both English and Western styles of riding and can also perform at Gymkhanas, horse shows, jumping competitions, and other shows or competitions that allow ponies and children to compete.

Driving

The Dartmoor, because of its impressive strength, does great with driving and pulling loads much heavier than themselves. These ponies can pull as a team or alone and do a great job at it!

What Is The Average Lifespan Of The Dartmoor Pony?

Dartmoor ponies have the average lifespan of that of a horse rather than a pony. They can live to be between 25 and 30 years old as compared to the 40 years that some ponies can live up to.

With the proper care, exercise, and good health, these ponies can exceed their average age.

Fun Facts On Dartmoor Ponies

  • These ponies have nearly gone extinct multiple times
  • Because of their great temperament and natural jumping ability, they are often used as a base breed when creating the ideal riding pony
  • The Dartmoor is native to Devon England

Hailey Johnson

Horses have been my passion ever since I can remember. At school, I was known as that weird horse girl, and I would read horse encyclopedias for fun. Over the years since those days, I have only learned more. My experiences with horses of a variety of breeds have taught me a lot. Now I want to share what I know with you!

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