Quantock Hills Blog

Keeping an eye on the Exmoors

- Ranger Rebekah gets one of the Exmoor pony herd checked out

Katy Coate

Posted by Katy Coate on 01 July 2014

Keeping an eye on the Exmoors A couple of weeks ago my heart sunk after going to check the ponies on Cothelstone Hill. One of the mares was standing apart from the others and walking a bit stiff…the last thing I wanted was a repeat of a couple of months ago, when we sadly had to have one of the herd put down due to poor health.

So the team and I watched her closely over the next couple of weeks, she rejoined the herd and didn’t seem to be faring too badly.  However, erring on the side of caution, we decided to get a vet in.  The vet was very helpful and spent some time watching the ponies.  He reassured me that they were a healthy - if a little old and stiff herd.  When ponies are very lame, their heads bob as they trot - they were displaying no signs of lameness.  He also informed me that although their hooves are a little long and tatty, they are in no way causing them a problem.  Horses hooves naturally keep growing and we keep domestic horses hooves neat by filing them.  If we were to attempt this with our herd, we would have to dart them in order to sedate them enough for us to treat them.  This would mean inflicting high stress on the herd for something which the vet deemed unnecessary.

For the last twenty-five years the Quantock Hills AONB Service has run the herd of Exmoor Ponies on Cothelstone Hill, they are excellent for conservation grazing of the hill. Exmoors can graze and browse on a wide range of vegetation and are amazingly hardy and able to stand up to even the harshest of our winters. The Exmoor Pony is in all probability a surviving ancient horse. Our Exmoors are an ageing herd and their time will come in the not too distant future.  However, for the time being, they are doing well!  Although we do check them daily, really appreciate calls from the public and are thankful that people are looking out for them.  If you spot something not quite right please do call us at the office on 01823 451884 or contact us via Facebook (Quantock Hills) or Twitter (@quantockhills)

If you haven’t already do go up to Cothelstone Hill, the newly re-opened car park is looking good! It’s beautiful up there and if you are lucky you can see 360 degree views.  This is one of my favourite circular walks (click here)


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