CHOOSE Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust AS YOUR CO-OP LOCAL CAUSE!

October 28, 2020

CHOOSE Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust AS YOUR CO-OP LOCAL CAUSE

When Co-op Members buy Co-op branded products and services, the Co-op will give 2% to a local cause – we are one of the causes chosen from NOW until October 2021!

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Choosing us will help raise money to support the work we carry out to secure the future of the Dartmoor Pony on Dartmoor and to create physical and mental wellbeing programmes to children and families, to maximise outdoor learning, at our site on the Parke Estate and at our Moorland Venue at Bellever, Postbridge.

If you are not already a member you can register online or in store. It costs just a £1 and you receive many benefits. Visit the website.

Award winning photographer joins DPHT as Patron- Malcolm Snelgrove

June 19, 2020

We are delighted to announce that photographer Malcolm Snelgrove has become the charity’s new patron.

The charity’s vision to secure the future of the native Dartmoor pony and to inspire and connect people with Dartmoor’s wildlife, landscape and heritage is a perfect fit with Malcolm, a respected, internationally published equine and environmental photographer based on the Moor.


Dru Butterfield said: “We are thrilled and honoured that Malcolm has joined the charity as a patron. His passion for Dartmoor and its ponies, heritage and conservation certainly matches our own so this is a very exciting time.


“Malcolm will champion our work and enable us to share our messages more widely and effectively to a broader public, as well as increasing engagement, through the hugely effective medium of powerful imagery.


“We are increasing our activities, especially at Bellever, developing new partnerships, expanding the number of volunteers we have and supporting the work of the National Park and Forestry England so that more people can come and enjoy the moors safely and with respect, and feel inspired by the landscape and the ponies that graze there.”


Malcolm’s images of Dartmoor and its ponies have brought him international acclaim.

Malcolm said: “I’m so honoured to have been appointed patron as it means we can use my images to encourage people to understand both how important the ponies are for the landscape, and why we must protect and manage our landscapes for posterity, while encouraging people to come and enjoy Dartmoor.”


Malcolm first become involved with the DPHT in 2016 when he supported the charity’s Fresh Tracks programme which enabled 18 young people with a range of life challenges to walk across some 15 miles of Dartmoor as part of the Ten Tors challenge, motivated by the Charity’s specially trained Dartmoor ponies. 

Malcolm said: “The DPHT is a fantastic charity, not only in the work it is doing to ensure a sustainable future for traditional Dartmoor ponies, but also because it has successfully found a way to use the ponies to benefit so many people through its equine assisted learning programmes. I’m very excited to be working with the charity, as it continues to develop the site at Bellever, inspiring and connecting people to Dartmoor’s wildlife, landscape and heritage.”

Malcolm Snelgrove
Photographer Malcolm Snelgrove’s images of Dartmoor and its ponies have brought him international acclaim.
He moved to Devon 20 years ago with his wife Juliette and his time spent exploring the wild and rugged landscapes, and studying the pony herds that graze there led him to combine working as an IT consultant with becoming a professional photographer.
He quickly established himself as a lifestyle photographer, with commissions ranging from outdoor adventure specialists to well-known clothing brands, and his photography workshops bring delegates from all over the world.
But Dartmoor has always been his passion and today his respect and admiration of the landscape has led to a particular focus on how the ponies are being used in conservation. The images he captures are astonishing, and have led to a huge world-wide following on Social Media.
Malcolm said: “I am fascinated by the ponies and how they live in their natural environment and using social media, I’ve been able to engage with people and capture their interest too.

“The DPHT is carrying out fantastic work at Bellever where they manage 82 hectares of moorland using ponies for conservation grazing and it’s been fascinating recording the very positive impact they are having in developing biodiversity.
“I’m so honoured to have been appointed patron as it means we can use my images to encourage people to understand both how important the ponies are for the environment, and why it is critical that we protect and manage our landscapes for posterity, while encouraging people to come and enjoy Dartmoor safely and with respect for nature.”
Malcolm first become involved with the DPHT in 2016 when he supported the charity’s Fresh Tracks programme enabling 16 young people with a range of life challenges to walk across some 15 miles of Dartmoor as part of the Ten Tors challenge accompanied by ponies.
He recorded their personal journeys, starting at the DPHT Centre at Parke, Bovey Tracey, where they were taught map reading, first aid, pony skills, how to put up and take down a tent, and prepare their own gear and pack their bags.
Each child was presented with a book of their own images as a record of their momentous achievements in completing the challenge.

Malcolm said: “The DPHT is a wonderful charity, not only in the work it is doing to help ensure a future for ponies through promoting their roles in conservation, but also because it has successfully found a way to use the ponies to benefit so many people through its equine assisted learning programmes.
“I’m very excited to be working with the charity, particularly as it continues to develop its activities at Bellever, inspiring and connecting people to Dartmoor’s wildlife, landscape and heritage.”



January 31, 2020




Come along to meet the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust’s Dartmoor ponies, find out all about them, enjoy interacting with them – and even adopt Rolo, Charlie, Smartie or George! 


Hear about the ponies on Dartmoor, why they are so important, how you can help; and about the work we do to help ensure a future for our iconic native breed and symbol of the Dartmoor National Park.


Our Open Days are suitable for family members of all ages and abilities.  Light refreshments available, our shop will be open – and perhaps there will be some surprise activities for children!  Enjoy a walk exploring the National Trust’s Parke Estate where we are based and have lunch or a teatime treat at the Home Farm Café. Well behaved dogs on leads welcome.


The dates again are:  Sunday 16 February 1-3pm, Sunday 19 April and Saturday 30th May, from 1.30pm – 4pm. 


Or book a free, fun and informative Guided Walk at our Moorland site, Bellever, near Postbridge.  Tailored for each group – which must be 6 persons or more – children especially welcome.  We deliver walks to schools, clubs and family groups all year.


DPHT is also keen to attract new volunteers to help with its work, based at Parke.  All enquiries welcome, all sorts of roles available!


For further info, please call 01626 833234


November 18, 2019

Dartmoor ponies are among the most iconic species of any British moorland but a dramatic decline in population since the 1950s has led to widespread concern about their long-term survival prospects and an urgent requirement to recognise their value as conservation grazers.


A research project – the initial findings of which are released today - suggests that ponies not only make a positive contribution to conservation management on Dartmoor, but are also a suitable option for conservation-grazing schemes throughout the country.


In response to a request from Defra and Natural England (NE) to the Dartmoor Pony Action Group three years ago, the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust (DPHT), working with researchers at the University of Plymouth, is undertaking a Research Project at Bellever on Dartmoor.  This project aims to gather scientific evidence to assess some of the benefits of ponies as conservation grazers in creating suitable conditions for a range of biodiversity. 

These data were requested by DEFRA and NE to assist with the planning of future stewardship schemes such as ELMS (Environmental Land Management System) and to help evaluate the contribution of ponies as part of grazing and land management solution. 

As the chosen topic for the Annual Research Lecture hosted yesterday (15 November) by the Dartmoor Society, the DPHT has announced that these initial results have been well received.  A Natural England ecologist has said: “The results of this trial provide good evidence of the positive impact of pony grazing on Molinia.  The study has been shared with Defra and it will form part of the body of evidence that will help to shape the future Environmental Land Management System’.

According to Paul Lunt, Associate Professor of Environmental Science at Plymouth University: “The findings from this study suggest that salt blocks can be used to attract ponies to targeted areas of Molinia-dominated moorland, where other management strategies are not sustainable. The increased grazing and trampling activity of the ponies in these areas can lead to a reduction in sward height and Molinia cover, facilitating increased germination and establishment of Calluna seedlings and plant species diversity. Thus, ponies may provide a suitable option for conservation-grazing schemes, where the desired effect is to reduce Molinia and re-establish Calluna.”

The DPHT has its own Higher-Level Stewardship (HLS) Agreement at Bellever & Lakehead Grazing, near Postbridge, high up on Dartmoor, using Dartmoor ponies for conservation grazing. 

In addition to the findings announced from the Research project, the Charity was delighted when the entire Bellever site was appraised earlier this month by its Natural England Advisor as being highly successful, leading to the recommendation of an extension of its HLS Agreement.

Says Paul Lunt: “This is an interesting site as we have 82ha of moorland grazing within a 540ha block of working Sitka Spruce plantation owned and managed by Forestry England. The ponies are free to roam throughout the open area and into the conifers. Our project was to look at ways to encourage the ponies away from their favoured area of mixed vegetation (short grass and dwarf shrub heath) grazing around Bellever Tor and Laughter Tor, onto an area dominated by coarser Molinia on Lakehead.

“The sustainable management of Molinia, an aggressive and dominant grass which overwhelms less robust species, presents a serious challenge. Changes in management and climate have favoured Molinia and it is a major issue for many upland areas across the UK. Molinia creates a poor habitat and it is very prone to wildfire, which allows it to outcompete other less vigorous plants. 

“The conclusion of the study suggests that ponies are part of the solution to managing Molinia.”

According to Dru Butterfield from DPHT: “Satellite imagery (Google maps) clearly shows new pony tracks appearing through the Molinia as the ponies have changed their spatial pattern of grazing.  Through the project, pony behaviour has undoubtedly changed.  The impact they have made – and continue to make - and how these results could be extended, particularly to ponies on heathland and uplands throughout the country, is very exciting.  It should be sufficient evidence to ensure that suitably hardy ponies of all types and breeds are recognised and appreciated as effective conservation grazers to support biodiversity and tackle some of the factors affecting our landscape such as the dominating Molinia.”

Says Paul: “The project started in 2017 with detailed baseline vegetation data being collected in order to establish initial condition.  The reports produced so far give conclusive evidence of the impact of increased pony activity in the area of Lakehead.  For 2019/2020 we plan to remove the salt blocks and continue to monitor vegetation structure and seedling recruitment to determine if the period of concentrated grazing and disturbance is sufficient to produce a sustained improvement in heathland condition.”  

The research project was designed and agreed with Natural England National Grazing Specialist Dave Martin, with support and guidance from Natural England Principal Adviser, Naomi Oakley.

The University and DPHT also recognise the considerable input of Malcolm Gibb, previously Senior Research Scientist in the Behavioural and Community Ecology Group of The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research.





For more information about this news release, or to organise an interview, please contact:


Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust’s Clare Stanton on 07885 699802 or email


University of Plymouth Media & Communications Officer Alan Williams on 01752 588004 or email


Notes to Editors


The Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust (DPHT)

The DPHT is a registered charity (number 1109196) established in 2005 to protect and conserve the Dartmoor Pony on Dartmoor.  The DPHT works closely with Moorland Pony Keepers, providing services to add value to the ponies through a range of marketing initiatives and by taming feral foals and youngstock, so they can be safely sold to good equine homes.

In addition to its site at Bellever near Postbridge, where it provides free grazing for a herd of registered Dartmoors belonging to Pony Keepers, its purpose-built Centre in Bovey Tracey, Devon, acts as a 'showcase' for the Dartmoor pony.  It is also where the charity carries out its Equine Assisted Learning Programmes using Dartmoor ponies to support a range of life-long learners.

The DPHT is a lead member of the Dartmoor Pony Action Group and frequently provides input to regional and national government organisations and policy.


About the University of Plymouth


The University of Plymouth is renowned for high quality, internationally-leading education, research and innovation.

With a mission to Advance Knowledge and Transform Lives, Plymouth is a *top 50 research university with clusters of world class research across a wide range of disciplines including marine science and engineering, medicine, robotics and psychology. A twice winner of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education, the University of Plymouth continues to grow in stature and reputation.

It has a strong track record for teaching and learning excellence, and has one of the highest numbers of National Teaching Fellows of any UK university. With 18,000 students, and a further 15,000 studying for a Plymouth degree at partner institutions in the UK and around the world, and over 100,000 alumni pursuing their chosen careers globally, it has a growing global presence.


* Research Fortnight Research Power League Table 2014.



Ken and Daf Edwards of Langworthy Farm lent their beautiful and well behaved mare and foal to the RBST stand at Honiton Show.

November 13, 2019

Langworthy Nuthatch was one of our first foals, born to us in 2006, which caused great excitement. We had not lived long on Dartmoor and had just acquired our first mares off the moor. Nutty’s mother was entered into the Duchy Moorland Scheme as an SR1, so she could run with a pedigree stallion (Watt’s Zoar Torr) and we were very pleased to have a filly first time around. SEE THE PDF

All these years later, Nutty has become one of our stalwart mares, having given us eight foals to date. The latest, Langworthy Honeybuzzard (by Moortown Honeyman) came to Honiton Show to grace the Rare Breeds stand with Nuthatch his mother this year. 

The best-known of Nutty’s relatives is her half-sister, Langworthy Swift Ghost, out of the same mare. Langworthy Swift Ghost is off to HOYS this year for the third time. Like Nutty, she is an SR2, which shows how effective and successful the Duchy Moorland Scheme can be for improving quality of ponies on the moor and increasing the gene pool of the registered Dartmoor pony. 

Traditional Dartmoor Pony 

watchlist category Endangered (300-500 breeding females) 

Dartmoor ponies are the native pony breed of Dartmoor, recorded as living on the wild and inhospitable moors since the Middle Ages. They are well adapted to the moorland environment and have the metabolism to prosper in tough and uncompromising conditions. This together with excellent temperament has traditionally made them suitable for both farm work and as riding ponies in all spheres of competition. Despite their small frame they are strong enough to carry an adult. Dartmoor Ponies should not exceed 12.2hh and are well-muscled. They can be bay, brown, black, grey, roan or chestnut in colour, but not skewbald or piebald or with excessive white markings. The modern type of Dartmoor Pony was established at the end of the nineteenth century. The breed was severely threatened during the Second World War when the army used the moor as a training area, but was rescued by committed owners. Later, mechanization forced the breed into another decline. In 1988 the Duchy of Cornwall established the Moorland Scheme to preserve the Dartmoor Pony in its natural environment. This scheme is administered by both the Duchy of Cornwall and the Dartmoor Pony Society who provide help by subsidizing the scheme. It is also supported by the Dartmoor National Park. It has been successful and has slowly increased the "true type" Dartmoor Ponies on the Moor. 

A note about the Duchy Moorland Pony Scheme: 

Ponies in the scheme are inspected by two Dartmoor Pony Society Judges – the criteria being they must be bred on Dartmoor, and owned by a member of the Dartmoor Pony Society with a holding number, within the National Park. These are ponies of true Dartmoor type and whole coloured, but have never been registered in the Society’s Stud Book before for various reasons. Once inspected they come into what is called a Newtake (an enclosed area/parcel of land on the Moor) where they run with a licensed fully pedigree stallion for the summer. The progeny is inspected the following year, again by two Dartmoor Pony Society judges, when ponies are collected at Drift time, and if passed as suitable they move up a grade. Ponies are microchipped by the veterinary surgeon in attendance, and paperwork for Passports completed before they are taken back to the owners farms for winter. The Scheme starts off after inspection with a mare becoming an SR (Supplementary Register), progeny of which becomes SR1 (Supplementary Register1) Female progeny are encouraged to return in to the Newtakes when old enough with a monetary incentive given the first time it returns into the Newtake. The next progeny thus becoming SR2 (Supplementary Register2) with the females once again encouraged to return as the resulting progeny becomes Fully Registered in the main body of the Stud Book. 

Male progeny are usually gelded and become good children’s ponies. 

A Supplementary Register colt may not be used to sire Registered Pedigree Stock nor may it be used as a Stallion in the Newtakes. 

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The Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust (Registered Charity No. 1109196) was established in 2005 in response to widespread concern about the viability and long-term survival of the traditional Dartmoor pony.

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