The Heritage Exmoor Pony Festival is organised by the Moorland Exmoor Pony Breeders Group and Exmoor Pony Project.
The Heritage Exmoor Pony Festivalwill runs from May to December, to embrace the free-living Exmoor pony herds and their new born foals in Spring, through to the autumn gatherings of the herds, when the foals are brought in and inspected. The Calendar of Events includes activities throughout spring, summer and autumn, including shows, exhibitions, farm visits, open afternoons, stud visits, moorland walks, talks, cream teas, specialist workshops (ie, photography, agricultural, equestrian, arts & crafts), social events and pony gatherings. The Calendar will be available on this website, together with information about the Moorland Exmoor Pony Breeders Group and its Exmoor pony herds.
MEPBG Chairman Nick Westcott said, “We're very pleased to see the Heritage Exmoor Pony Festival going from strength to strength. It’s proving invaluable in helping people to understand the qualities of our indigenous native ponies and also the challenges we face in conserving and preserving them. It promotes awareness that good homes need to be found for some of the wild-born foals in the autumn and that with kind and patient socialisation, new owners are rewarded with the most wonderful ponies that can turn their hoof to almost anything - including endurance, riding, driving, jumping and agility - along with their skills as conservation grazers. The ponies are an iconic part of Exmoor and we’re keen to see more people get involved with the breed.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.