Exmoor Horse

Origin: England – Devon and Somerset.

Height: 11.2-12.3hh.

Color: Bay, brown, mouse dun. All have a mealy (cream-colored) muzzle and a tendency to mealy underbelly and inside thighs. No white markings of any kind.

Character: Intelligent and naturally wild and once broken they are alert, kind, and excellent companions. They make splendid children’s ponies provided they are properly handled early on.

Physique: Elegant head with wide nostrils, broad forehead, and prominent eyes (known locally as a frog or toad eyes). They have ears short, thick, and pointed. Neck short and thick, set on a deep, broad chest with shoulder well back. Some other features are a medium-length back with powerful loins, strong quarters, clean, hard legs, and small, hard feet. It has a free, straight action, and has great powers of endurance. The coat is of a peculiar texture, being hard and springy: in summer it lies close and shines like brass; in winter it carries no bloom.

Exmoors are the oldest of the British native breeds, and since ponies are not indigenous to Britain it must be assumed that they walked there before the country became an island. It was known in prehistoric times and may have been the Celtic pony used to pull the war chariots of the Celts (if not, it was a very close relation). It inhabits the wild expanse of open moorland called Exmoor which lies partly in Devon and partly in Somerset, both counties in the south-west of England, and is hardy enough to survive winters which sometimes bring several feet of snow without shelter and without extra food from man.

These little animals are tough and have exceptional guts and spring. Writing in 1820, one William Youatt says, The Exmoor ponies, although generally ugly enough [his opinion only], are hardy and useful A well-known sportsman says, that he rode one of them half-a-dozen miles, and never felt such power and action in so small a compass before. To show his accomplishments, he has turned over agate at least eight inches higher than his back; and his owner, who rides fourteen stone [196 lbs], traveled on him from Bristol to South Moulton, eighty-six miles, beating the coach which runs the same road.

The Reverend John Russell, of roughly the same period, believed that no hunter was of any use without a strain of Exmoor blood. He preferred his horses to be three-parts Thoroughbred to one part Exmoor. In general, outcrosses with Exmoors to produce a bigger local type did not endure, being at the least unable to survive the rough natural conditions of their pony ancestors. Today the maximum permitted height for stallions is 12.3hh; that for mares is 12.2.

See more: Einsiedler Horse

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