Thursday, 7 December 2017

Delivering the post by pony

A different kind of pony transport was commemorated by Dr Helen Blackman, Exmoor Society archivist, who is researching the old postal routes across Exmoor. Helen and Pony Centre volunteer, Lisa Clarke, mounted on the Pony Centre’s Fudge and Abbi, re-rode the 12 mile postal route from Withypool post office

via Kiteridge Lane 
Lisa on Abbi and Helen on Fudge

and Landacre where the ponies enjoyed a short breather while cooling their feet in the Barle. 

Helen handed Tony Howard a letter outside the post office where he has been postmaster for the past 20 years. 

Until the 1970s the post was routinely delivered on foot or horseback over distances of up to 15 miles. Using maps and material from the Society’s Dulverton Resource Centre, the Society is piecing together the history of the postal service on Exmoor. Helen said “…. as a horse rider I’m fascinated by the role horses and ponies have played in bringing news and information across the moor. This is also a wonderful opportunity to work with the Exmoor Pony Centre and highlight how hardy and useful the Exmoor ponies are.”

Pack Pony Tom

Trekking may have finished for the winter but some of our riding ponies have been showing their versatility by getting involved with things literary and historical.

Pony Tom was guest of honour when, early in November, about forty people gathered in the Green Room at the Pony Centre to celebrate the launch of Dr Sue Baker’s latest book, The Exmoor Pony Chronicles; a collection of stories and reminiscences about Exmoor ponies and the Exmoor families and other people connected with them. 

Tom played a starring role as a pack pony helping to deliver the books. 

He also appears on the front cover as a traditional pack pony, with handlers in full period dress, taking part in the 2015 ENPA Mosaic Project Youth Walk across the route of the Exmoor Perambulation, the traditional long-distance walk dating back to the time of Edward 1st. 

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

November News

This year seems to be passing faster than ever. I can hardly believe that, as I write, we are at the end of October. We have had our final activity day for this year celebrating Halloween and it is time for the Pony Centre to close to the public for the winter.

Many of our riding ponies will shortly be leaving for their well-deserved winter holiday and rest, staying with friends and fosterers. Over the past few months, our gentle giant Jensen (aka Knightoncombe Eric) has been undergoing intensive training offsite with Linzi. He is a quiet, sensible pony and has already calmly dealt with trampolines, quad bikes and curious cows; all useful experience for when he returns to the Centre to continue his training over the winter. We will also be bringing on three more ponies who will eventually join our riding team and allow some of our older ponies to step back and enjoy a more leisurely life.

Staff and volunteers are busy preparing to receive this year’s intake of foals. Last year we had three unexpected late arrivals bringing our total intake for last year to 26. One of these three has been named by one of our Crowdfunder donors as part of her reward and the name she chose is Roly. As Roly’s two pals also needed names staff have called them - what else? - Jam and Poly. They are all being handled and when they have been neutered they, too, will move on to a home or grazing site. Most of last year’s foals have now been homed or placed with conservation grazing schemes in Northumberland, Hampshire and Suffolk.

Looking forward to Christmas, we have pony cards and calendars for sale in our online shop via our website together with other pony-related items that would make lovely Christmas presents.

It has been the most amazing year. Six months ago funds were at an all-time low and we were all bracing ourselves to face the closure of the Pony Centre. Since then, thanks to all our wonderful supporters and your incredible response to our Crowdfunder appeal, that has completely changed. We now have money in the bank and can look forward to a much more secure future for all our ponies. So thank you all.

Please note the Centre is now closed for the winter and will re-open for half term on Sunday 11th February 2018.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Sue Baker's latest book, The Exmoor Chronicles, was launched today at the Exmoor Pony Centre.

Centre Manager, Linzi Green gave a short talk about MMT pony Tom who stars on the front cover complete with saddlebags.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Anchor Herd Gathering

Staff and ponies from the Centre helped out with the gathering of the Anchor Herd ponies on Winsford Hill yesterday. Linzi is on Yorrick, Karen on Abbi and Lydia on Fudge. 

Monday, 31 July 2017

July News

The Exmoor weather threw the lot at us on our eleventh birthday. It must have been one of the wettest activity days ever at the Pony Centre. Despite that, we had plenty of visitors who cheerfully braved the rain. The Green Room was open for refreshments and drying out, and all the activities and riding took place under cover in the barn.

On 27 July, the Pony Centre hosted the media launch of Claire Lynch’s Wild Exmoor; by all accounts an amazing evening with excellent food prepared and served in the barn to guests dressed in black tie and wellies.  See the video on our facebook page to get a feel for the occasion. Earlier in the month, the Society of Equestrian Artists visited us to draw our wonderful ponies and Linzi and pony Tom joined children’s author Victoria Eveleigh at the Summer Reading Challenge Launch Event at Barnstaple library. Another wet July day but at least the soaking meant Tom wasn’t plagued by flies. Always a silver lining!

From 5 to 20 August, events will be taking place across Exmoor for the 6th Exmoor Pony Festival. A full list of events, including those at the Pony Centre, can be found on our website and facebook page.

And, of course, there are our regular activity afternoons every Thursday throughout August with fun and games and the chance to get up close to our ponies with grooming and pony rides. Refreshments will be available in our Green Room building. These are all-weather events which will be held under cover if necessary. Admission is free with small charges for the activities. Minimum age for riding is 4 yrs.

And just to prove it is never too late to learn, one of our trustees recently celebrated his 70th birthday by having his first ride ever, on pony Fudge, and thoroughly enjoying it. The grin on his face says it all.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Exmoor Pony Visits Eastleigh Care Home

Exmoor pony, Tom, visited Eastleigh Care Home in Minehead on 6 July. He has been visiting here and the Eastleigh Care Home in South Molton for many years  now and is a great favourite with the residents.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Job Vacancy

We have been successful in receiving a grant to enable us to fill our admin position.
 Please get in touch if you are interested.

It's Never Too Late to Learn!

One of our trustees has celebrated his 70th birthday by going for his first ever ride on an equine - an Exmoor pony, of course!

After a short practice ride in the barn under the watchful eye of Centre Manager, Linzi, he and his partner, Gail, were taken for a supervised walk along the lanes. Barry is riding Fudge and Gail is on Abbi.

'Fantastic,' he said when he arrived back. 'I can't wait to do it again.'



Friday, 2 June 2017

Fantastic Result for Crowdfunder Appeal

Exmoor Pony Centre Canters Into the Future!

Staff, volunteers and trustees from the Moorland Mousie Trust which runs the Exmoor Pony Centre at Ashwick near Dulverton in Somerset, are celebrating an astounding achievement as their crowdfunding campaign draws to a close.

Caption: Volunteer Doulla Aebli with Knightoncombe Eric. Credit: Kali Green

The 42 day appeal has seen the charity raise a staggering £35,000, exceeding the initial target by several thousand pounds thanks to the generosity of more than 880 people. The Centre is now safe until the end of the year and the staff and trustees can now focus on plans for its long-term survival. Centre Manager, Linzi Green explained: “When we launched the appeal we were so desperate for funds to prevent the Centre from closing.  it really was a make or break situation. We are totally overwhelmed by the response and are so grateful to everyone who has donated. However we still desperately need funding to ensure the future of the charity and of the many Exmoor ponies we care for. ”

Trustee Juliet Rogers has been amazed by the public’s support, “It has been wonderful to see people from all over the world, of all ages and backgrounds, getting behind our charity and helping us to continue our work taking the unwanted Exmoor ponies who would otherwise have no future.” 

The charity's trustees have praised all the volunteers who help to keep the Centre running day to day and have bestowed huge thanks on two volunteers, Gail Cheeseman and Doulla Aebli, who have organised the Crowdfunder campaign and devoted the last six weeks to ensuring the threat of closure no longer hangs over the Exmoor Pony Centre. Sarah Bryan, chief executive of Exmoor National Park Authority said: "Many congratulations to the Exmoor Pony Centre for a fantastic fundraising effort, we are delighted to hear that their target was so comprehensively beaten. It is a testament to the dedication and hard work of a small team of people who care so much about the Exmoor ponies which enliven our landscapes.”

Donations and offers of help have poured into the Centre and fundraising events such as sponsored rides, cake stalls, non-uniform days and pony parties are being organised by supporters throughout the UK. There is still much to achieve before the charity's future can be assured and the fight still goes on for the ponies. Staff and volunteers hope a busy summer will continue to boost funds with revenue from riding sessions, activity days and visitors.

"The real stars of this campaign have been the Exmoor Ponies themselves." said Linzi, "I am sure if they could speak they would like to have the final word and say thanks to everyone for supporting this appeal and giving them, and the Exmoor Pony Centre, a future."

Friday, 26 May 2017

Exmoor Pony visits Eastleigh Care Home

Exmoor Pony, Tom, and Lydia visiting Eastleigh Care Home in South Molton this week.

Our ponies have been popular visitors at Eastleigh Care Homes across the area for many years.

Did someone say Exmoor Ponies can be difficult?!

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Another Target Reached!

It's just unbelievable. Thanks to a £5,000 donation, we have now passed our £30k stretch target It's just unbelievable. Thanks to a £5,000 donation we have now passed our £30k stretch target!

Since we launched, an incredible 800 plus people have supported us by donating to our appeal!

Who would have thought there would be that many Exmoor Pony lovers across the world? Donations have come in from across Europe, the USA and Australia making this a truly international achievement.

Thank you so much - all of you.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Pony Centre YouTube Video

We have had several requests for a direct link to the YouTube video that accompanies our Crowdfunder appeal.

Crowdfunder Total Just keeps Rising

We are all still stunned by the response from hundreds of people from all over the country and abroad to our Crowdfunder Appeal.

We have now passed £26,000 and the total is still rising. Absolutely amazing!

There are still 22 days left to try and reach our £30k target, so please keep passing the word and sharing on facebook and twitter.

Thank you!

Dylan and Friends enjoying a peaceful day at the Pony Centre

Sunday, 30 April 2017

We Did It!

We've reached our target! And it's all thanks to you, our wonderful supporters.

In just 8 days you have raised over £20,000 for the Exmoor Pony Centre, ensuring its survival for another year. 

And the donations are still coming in. 

So, with 33 days of the appeal left to run we will continue our campaign to secure an even longer and more secure future for the Centre and for the ponies we love and care for.

If you have already given, thank you so much; but please continue to share our campaign with as many people as possible.

Together, we can make sure the Centre can continue to help these very special Exmoor Ponies we all love and care for.

A huge thank you from us all.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Crowdfunder Appeal - We are Almost There!

£19,000 in 7 days! 

We have been inundated with donations from all over the country and beyond and I am quite stunned by the number of people who have supported us.

Two young children in Belgium, who visited the Centre, are raising funds with a toy sale in their school. People have offered to run fund-raising events for us. Others have donated items we can auction. 

Thank you all so much from everyone here at the Centre.  

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Our Crowdfunder Appeal is Live and looking good!

But we still need your help, please!


In 1947, the Exmoor Pony was on the edge of extinction

Now, the Exmoor Pony Centre is also on the edge.

We must raise £20,000 or close at the end of August.

Please watch our video and read our story here:

Thank you


Friday, 14 April 2017

Exmoor Pony Centre faced with closure

We had some really bad news at the Pony Centre this week.

After a long period of rising costs and decreasing income, it was finally agreed that unless we can find a substantial sum of money pretty quickly, the Exmoor Pony Centre will have to close at the end of August.

In a last-ditch attempt to prevent this, we are about run our biggest fund-raising campaign ever. 

On 21 April we will launch an appeal on Crowdfunder to raise £20,000.

If we can meet this target it will give us the breathing space we need to save the Centre.

This doesn't mean the end of the Moorland Mousie Trust but it does mean we will no longer be able to open to the public. There will be no more open days. No more riding for the children and no more treks across the moor. All of which will be a huge loss to all our wonderful visitors and will also impact on our ability to raise funds from activities and events.

We are offering some great rewards on Crowdfunder including a VIP day at the Centre with a guided tour, hands on experience with the ponies, an opportunity to ride, and lunch and tea. One of our volunteers has also offered to sponsor one night at a local B&B for anyone too far away to come for just the day. 

So, please do log in to Crowdfunder after 21 April, look for 'Save the Exmoor Pony Centre', watch the video, browse the rewards and perhaps make a donation.

A huge thank you from all of us - staff, volunteers and, of course, the ponies.

Can we Save the Exmoor Pony Centre?
Log on to Crowdfunder

Saturday, 8 April 2017

A New Arrival

This little chap is Knighton Combe Antler, a 25 year-old gelding from Herd H8. 

We have taken him at the Centre because, sadly, his is owner is no longer able to care for him. He will undergo a health check and handling and then we will find him a home either with a fosterer or on a conservation grazing scheme.


Native Pony Event Coxleigh Barton, Barnstaple

We are sorry - but this event has been cancelled
due to lack of entries


Come and join us on 30th April 2017 for a celebration of our native ponies at Coxleigh Barton, Barnstaple, North Devon EX31 4JL

A fun event for riders of mixed ability and native ponies of all shapes and sizes.

Small Breeds: Shetland, Dartmoor, Welsh A&B
Large Breeds: Connemara, Fell, New Forest, Dales, Highland, Welsh C&D 
Part- bred/ Native types

XC- £12
SJ- £5 per class
XC & SJ - £15
Closing Date: 27th April 2017

Full details and entry form can be downloaded from our website here.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Ride an Exmoor Pony

What could be better than a visit to Exmoor that includes riding one of our iconic rare breed native Exmoor Ponies. Our Centre offers many riding possibilities for all abilities. We will do our very best to make sure you have an experience to remember. Below is an overview of the riding activities currently available.
For full details and how to book please click on the respective heading.
Please note that all rides must be pre-booked.


Hands on grooming, groundwork and riding fun, tailored to your ability. 1 hour session, £30 for 1 or 2 people. 6yrs and above, for Beginner/novice.


This is for ages 4 and 5 yrs only and is a 40 minute session. £20 for 1 or 2 children.


Get to know your pony before getting on board and having a steady ride around the beautiful surroundings of the Pony Centre. 1 hour group session, £20 per person. 4 years and above,  for Beginner/novice.


Get your pony ready before enjoying a ride around the lanes near the Pony Centre. 1 hour session, £35 per person. 8 years and above, must be competent at walk and trot independently.


Enjoy the feeling of freedom riding one of our special ponies on the moor. 11 years and above,  for experienced riders able to walk, trot and canter independently.

2 hour Trek: £45 per person
3 hour Trek: £55 per person or £50 per person if booking for 2 or more people.

Easter Activity Day

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

March Newsletter

Pony Centre manager, Linzi Green, has just returned from Durham where she visited the 10 ponies delivered to the Wild Life Trust for conservation grazing last month. They have all settled well and are happily grazing the Rainton Meadows Reserve. A real success story.

This is the time of year when we begin to look for homes for some of the ponies in our care and we have a lovely selection of ridden ponies, youngsters and companions of varying ages and abilities all looking for foster homes. Their photos and details are on our website. A question we are often asked by visitors to the Centre is why can’t these foals remain on the moor?

Sadly, as man encroaches on to the moor the land available to the ponies becomes ever smaller and a certain area of moorland will only support a certain number of ponies if they are to remain fit and healthy.

So, if there isn’t room for them, why keep breeding? is often the next question.

The Exmoor Pony had a tough time of it during the 1940s. During the war years owners were absent, gates were left open and grazing areas were no longer safe for stock. Many ponies were stolen and transported to cities to provide people with meat during rationing. Troops used Exmoor for training and many practiced on live targets including the ponies. Consequently, by 1946 only about 50 Exmoor ponies and 4 stallions survived. When this was followed in 1947 by one of the worst winters on record, the Exmoor Pony reached the edge of extinction.

Since then, largely thanks to Mary Etherington and a few other dedicated breeders, cattle grids have replaced gates and the boundaries to the commons secured. The number of ponies has steadily increased to around 3,000 worldwide, though it is still classified as endangered by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, and the number of ponies living free on Exmoor remains around 400.

So continued, carefully controlled breeding is essential in order to rebuild the dangerously diminished gene pool and only by breeding ponies living free in their natural environment on Exmoor can the true qualities of this unique and hardy breed be perpetuated. Filly foals are retained for breeding but only a small number of stallions are required so, sadly, the colts have to be homed elsewhere or else slaughtered.

So that is why the Moorland Mousie Trust exists. To help these surplus ponies to find happy and useful homes away from the moor which in turn enables the herd owners to continue breeding quality ponies in a responsible and humane way. 
The Pony Centre is now open every day except Tuesdays and Saturday. Riding taster sessions are in full swing and trekking begins again at the end of March.Our April Activity Day will be on Sunday 9th April from 11am to 3pm and our full schedule for 2017 is on our website. We hope you can join us.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Foals Looking For Homes

Some of the foals we took in over this winter are now looking for homes. They are all gelded, vetted and happy to wear headcollars and be led.

If you would like to home or foster one of our ponies, please get in touch. Details of all our ponies for homing are on our website.

Here are three of the ponies looking for homes.  Shandy, Rio & Tango with Linzi

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

February Newsletter

Work at the Pony Centre doesn’t stop even though its chilly winter time. The ponies certainly keep us busy and warm.

In Mid- January staff at the Centre were preparing for ten ponies to travel to a new home with Durham Wildlife Trust at their Rainton Meadows Reserve. The time to say farewell came on the 17th January with the day of the move starting at 4.30 in the morning on Exmoor and by the early afternoon they were arriving to a crowd of people all eagerly awaiting their new four legged lawn mowers. Durham Wildlife Trust became interested in using the Moorland Mousie Trust for their Exmoor pony needs when they saw how other organisations in the north of England were using the charity and its ponies for conservation grazing. The ponies will be helping to improve habitat on some of DWT’s reserves between the rivers Tees and Tyne.

That same day, the Centre played host to a group of around 50 members of the Chinese community from the Exeter area; a visit arranged by Exmoor National Park and Hikmat Devon CIC. The group enjoyed a talk by Linzi about Exmoor ponies and the work of MMT and the Pony Centre before meeting the ponies for a chance to cuddle and groom and concluding with sandwiches and cake in the Green Room. Everyone said how much they enjoyed the visit and many said they would come back and bring their friends and families.

The Exmoor Pony Centre is always pleased to welcome groups to see the work of the Moorland Mousie Trust, our parent charity, at first hand and learn more about the Exmoor Pony breed. The visits are informative and fun with plenty of opportunity for hands-on interaction with the ponies. In the past we have welcomed U3A and community groups, student and school groups and adult learning groups. If you are interested in a group visit please contact us by email or phone to discuss.

Our volunteers enjoyed a belated Christmas Social recently to catch up on plans for 2017 and to get together and meet others who share the same passions. We have a wonderful and devoted team of volunteers helping with a variety of tasks from ponies to admin to fundraising. We are always in desperate need of more helpers so please do get in touch if you could spare any time to help the charity. You will find a warm welcome!

The Centre will re-open to the public for visits on Monday 13th February and will be holding the first Activity Afternoon of the year on Thursday 16th February to include pony rides, grooming, refreshments and family fun. Treks and Riding sessions will resume at the end of March. Our April Activity Day will be on Sunday 9th April from 11am to 3pm. Our full schedule for 2017 is on our website. We hope you can join us.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Visit by Chinese Group

Yesterday, we hosted a visit from a group of about 50 members of the Chinese community from the Exeter area arranged by Exmoor National Park and Hikmat Devon CIC

Linzi and National Park representatives gave a talk about Exmoor Ponies and the work of the Moorland Mousie Trust after which the visitors were given a tour of the Centre followed by tea in the Green Room.

They all loved hearing about Exmoor Ponies and enjoyed having the chance to get up close to them and do some grooming. As usual the ponies were the stars of the day and many visitors said they would like to return during our open season with family members or groups of students to do some riding.

 More photos can be found on…/exmoornp/albums/72157675653020223

Thursday, 5 January 2017

January Newsletter

Even though the Pony Centre has been closed to the public over Christmas and New Year, work hasn’t stopped for the staff and volunteers who have been busy looking after the 17 new young foals taken in this winter. They always need plenty of attention and there’s lots of mucking out, feeding and filling of haynets to do.

Each year we choose a theme for naming our foals which makes it easy to remember in which year they were born. Some of the past themes have been detectives, cars and biscuits. This year the foals have been named for fizzy drinks; so we have, for example, Cola, Fanta and Dr Pepper and Tizer.

Cola, Fanta & Dr Pepper

All these little chaps have already been vetted and wormed and have undergone some handling. Most are now happy to wear a headcollar and be led. Once they have been gelded and given time to recover from their op, they will hopefully be found homes either with fosterers or on conservation grazing sites around the country.

In the run up to Christmas the charity relies on money raised at stalls such as Dulverton by Starlight. We enjoy the festive atmosphere and, of course, selling all kinds of pony items and gifts, including our 2017 calendars of which we still have a few left, available via our website and now reduced to only £4 in our January sale. Also in the sale, reduced to £9.50, is the book, Moorland Mousie, from which the charity takes its name.

On 18th December, the Centre opened for a special Festive Fun Activity Afternoon, when we welcomed some hardy families for pony rides and hot soup and mince pies. 

In January, ten of our geldings will be travelling north all the way to Durham where they will be conservation grazing on Durham Wildlife Trust’s Tyne Tees Nature Reserve.

Our next Activity Afternoon will be in the School Holidays on Thursday 16th February 12 to 3 pm, with our popular pony rides, crafts and refreshments.
In March we re-open for the summer season and for riding sessions and our April Activity Day will be on Sunday 9th from 11am to 3pm.  You can find our full schedule for 2017 on our website: