Welcome to the Moorland Exmoor Pony Breeders Group (MEPBG)

The Moorland Exmoor Pony Breeders Group

Working to improve breeding practices, moorland management, welfare, promotion and opportunities for the Exmoor ponies of Exmoor National Park - & safeguarding genetics

Heritage Exmoor Pony Festival
Celebrating and promoting Exmoor ponies of Exmoor National Park 
Heritage Exmoor Pony Register
The MEPBG list of quality Pedigree & Purebred Exmoor ponies  
How to Buy Exmoor Ponies
Some helpful information regarding how to buy quality, authentic Exmoor ponies

The Moorland Exmoor Pony Breeders Group Blog

By Dawn Westcott 15 Nov, 2017
Sunday saw the gathering of the magnificent Tippbarlake Herd 387 from Brendon Common and the surrounding moorland areas, which amount to some 5,500 acres, by the Floyd family. 
With hail and wind initially lashing the riders and spectators, there was some doubt if the gathering could go ahead, but the weather cleared a little to allow the riders to head out to Hoaroak Valley and Cheriton Ridge to begin sweeping the moor and rounding up the ponies. The various social bands had spread far and wide, but they were gradually all brought across Lancombe Ford - this time also accompanied by some of Nigel Floyd's enthusiastic Red Devon cattle - and driven up to Scobhill Gate. 
There, they left the moor onto the lane leading down past Brendon Manor and Brendon Manor Riding Stables, along to the home farm at Brendon Barton. They rested in the holding paddock, giving the spectators the opportunity to view these lovely ponies at close quarters, before being directed up into some large fields, where they'll remain until the foals are weaned and inspected. 

The Tippbarlake herd was established in 2002 when Bob Westcott bequeathed Nigel Floyd a number of his top quality Exmoor mares, bearing ancient and important bloodlines. The herd has evolved to breed quality ‘true moorland type’ Exmoor ponies, capable of surviving and thriving in an authentic semi-feral situation, on some of Exmoor’s wildest and most challenging terrain. These ponies are incredibly hardy, strong, resilient and resourceful - retaining their desirable characteristics and behaviours. Interestingly, living and breeding in their natural indigenous environment also enables them to retain their striking good looks, including dramatic mealy-coloured markings around their eyes, muzzle and underbelly, often with flashes of bright blond highlights in their manes and tails.

Nigel Floyd is related to George Molland (of Simonsbath), who was a co-founder of the Exmoor Pony Society in the 1920’s and the ponies are woven into the history and heritage of a long standing Exmoor farming family. The Tippbarlake herd, like others, is maintained for reasons of tradition and passion rather than agricultural income, and safeguarding the herds can be a challenge. Moorland grazing quotas are strict, so some of the foals must find good homes after being brought in and weaned. With kind and patient handling, these intelligent ponies have enormous ability and can excell at the equestrian disciplines, from jumping to agility.

This year, the Tippbarlake herd has a small number of colt and filly foals available. To find out more, contact Maria Floyd on 01598 741201 and email mariafloyd@gmail.com.

By Dawn Westcott 17 Oct, 2017
The Exmoor pony gatherings are now taking place in Exmoor National Park and there are a small number of beautiful quality Exmoor pony foals coming up for sale. They are looking for considerate new owners who can help them to make the transition to life off the moors - or perhaps to join conservation grazing projects.

Exmoor ponies are a charismatic, endangered, ancient native hill pony breed and we welcome new owners to help safeguard their future. The MEPBG members are working together to breed carefully and ensure that the 'True Moorland Type', authentic Exmoor ponies continue to survive and thrive in Exmoor National Park - and beyond. If you are interested in becoming the owner of an Exmoor pony or two, then please feel very welcome to contact the MEPBG members for more information about their herds and ponies. Their contact details can be found in the MEPBG Breeders Directory . Exmoor pony foals will be available following the various pony gatherings and then inspections. There will be pedigree and purebred Exmoor pony foals available. 

The MEPBG includes:  
Westwillmer Herd 4 (Dunkery Commons)
Holtball Herd 11 (Porlock Vale)
Withypoole Herd 23 (Anstey and Withypool Commons)
Moorland Herd 99 (Molland Moor) 
Porlock Herd 100 (Porlock Hill)
Tippbarlake Herd 387 (Brendon Commons)
Foreland Herd (Countisbury & Kipscombe).

Herds with foals definitely available include: 
The Milton family's Withypoole Herd 23 (sired by The Aristocrat and Knightoncombe Royal);
The South family's Farleywater Herd H67 (sired by Wortleberry);
The Coldicutt family's Porlock Herd 100 (sired by Zeus);
The Floyd family's Tippbarlake Herd 387 (sired by Tippbarlake Jamie);
Moorland Herd 99, (sired by Knightoncombe Royal). 

Link to the MEPBG Breeders Directory:  http://www.mepbg.co.uk/about-MEPBG-directory

The Moorland Exmoor Pony Breeders Group (MEPBG) was established by Exmoor farmers and land owners to improve breeding practices, herd management, handling of ponies, knowledge transfer and communication, welfare, marketing, promotion and opportunities for the pedigree and purebred Exmoor ponies of Exmoor National Park - and to address issues regarding their classification and registration. The group was also established to give the farmers and land owners a collective voice with regard to safeguarding their Exmoor ponies.
The group has already achieved a significant amount of progress in all areas - including extensive improvements in moorland management, the establishing of the MEPBG Exmoor Pony Show and the  Heritage Exmoor Pony Festival , campaigning for recognition of all suitable moorland genetics, embracing DNA genomic purity testing (the MEPBG is a main stakeholder in the Exmoor Pony DNA Whole Genome Project ), working for improved foal sales, safeguarding of herds, and establishing the Heritage Exmoor Pony Register

More information about the MEPBG at   www.mepbg.co.uk .

Reading List: More information about the herds, the Exmoor ponies of Exmoor National Park, the MEPBG and also detailed tips and practical help on how to socialise and handle, care for and manage wild-born Exmoor ponies can be found in books Wild Pony Whispering, Wild Stallion Whispering and Wild Herd Whispering - find out more at www.WildPonyWhispering.co.uk
By Dawn Westcott 11 Oct, 2017
There was an  excellent and well-represented meeting of the Moorland Exmoor Pony Breeders Group (MEPBG) at the Rest & Be Thankful Inn on Exmoor last night.

We are delighted to confirm the new memberships to the MEPBG of the North Devon National Trust and the Foreland herd , and also Malcolm and Sheridan Westcott and their Westwillmer Herd 4 , which runs on the Dunkery Commons.

The autumn pony gatherings are now taking place and there will be a small number of excellent quality Exmoor pony foals looking for good homes. For more information about the MEPBG and contact details of the herd owners, please visit http://www.mepbg.co.uk/about-MEPBG-directory .

The MEPBG represents:
Westwillmer Herd 4 (Dunkery Commons)
Holtball Herd 11 (Porlock Vale)
Withypoole Herd 23 (Anstey and Withypool Commons)
Exmoor National Park Authority Herds 42 and 52 (Haddon Hill and North Hill)
Moorland Herd 99 (Molland Moor)
Porlock Herd 100 (Porlock Hill)
Farleywater Herd H67 (Buscombe)
Tippbarlake Herd 387 (Brendon Commons)
Foreland Herd (Countisbury & Kipscombe).

The MEPBG is a collaboration of progressive Exmoor farmers and land owners working together to promote the excellence of the Exmoor ponies of Exmoor National Park. The group is also working to improve breeding practices and moorland management, communication and knowledge transfer, welfare and opportunities for the ponies and particularly the foals looking for good opportunities who need to leave the moor each autumn. 
By Dawn Westcott 01 Oct, 2017

Did you know that over the years, a significant number of Exmoor ponies have been excluded from pedigree registration through various reasons that are not their fault? That there are perfectly good quality purebred Exmoor ponies who are currently outside of the breeding gene pool and Exmoor Pony Stud Book? 

This has caused many Exmoor ponies to be needlessly culled with the loss of around 50 mares from some herds. Reasons for exclusion from pedigree registration range from ponies evading gatherings in the wilder moorland areas; mix-ups with DNA samples and in correctly identifying stock; insufficient markers being used with DNA testing to sometimes successfully distinguish between closely-bred endangered breed ponies within a tiny gene pool; errors in data-capture/administration; anomalies in source pedigree breed data, etc. 

Some herd owners have culled these ‘anomalies’ irrespective of the quality of the ponies. There is boasting from some quarters of having only ‘pedigree-registered’ ponies in herds - but it’s interesting to understand how some of these herd owners arrived at having only ‘pedigree registered’ ponies in their herds.

Other herd owners have kept good quality purebred ponies, irrespective of difficulties with registration, and continue to safeguard the genetics of good, purebred stock. This can be difficult, frustrating, expensive and also heart-rending. 

So please spare a thought for herd owners who preserve and conserve good quality Exmoor ponies - despite these issues - and who don’t just cull stock in order to make administration and registration easier. 

Our enormous and heart felt thanks to the Exmoor farmers and herd owners here in the UK and overseas, who continue to protect and safeguard Exmoor ponies - whether inside the stud book or alarmingly outside of it. 

There is currently NO supplement or upgrading system to enable any of these ponies to re-enter the stud book and pedigree breeding gene pool. The Moorland Exmoor Pony Breeders Group has been asking for a supplement and upgrading system to be created since 2015. Other breeds offer this, like the Dartmoor breed. 

The Exmoor Pony DNA whole genome project is waiting for final samples to be collected so that first phase whole genome mapping can commence. The intention is for this testing and analysis of the breed to provide a baseline against which Exmoor ponies can have their purity confirmed. We’ll keep you posted regarding how it develops. 

In the meantime, if you’d like more information on Exmoor farmers and land owners who are collaborating and working together for the greater good of both pedigree and purebred Exmoor ponies, then please visit  www.mepbg.co.uk.

Working together is the way forwards and these people and organisations are doing it. Ponies and also entire herds are being saved and safeguarded through MEPBG communication, cooperation, knowledge transfer, collaboration and looking to the welfare of the entire Exmoor herd, not just individually-owned ponies.

Pictured below: Holtball Black Bess, granddaughter of Herd 23 The Highwayman, who passed his stallion inspection but could not be registered because early DNA testing (thought to be using only about 9 markers) could not identify one or both of his parents. He and most of his progeny died. He was thought by some to be one of the best moorland Exmoor stallions ever seen and he had fought his way to covering most of the mares in a large free-living herd with a number of entire males running in it at the time. If ever there were bloodlines to preserve and conserve, surely the genetics of The Highwayman are important? We have been advised to breed from one of the very few daughters of The Highwayman to try to safeguard these moorbred Exmoor pony genetics. 

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