The Rare Breed Survival Trust has five criteria for rare breed ponies, based upon how many registered breeding females (called mares) are left.
With between 300 to 500 breeding mares left, Exmoor Ponies are classed as ‘Endangered’ by the Rare Breed Survival Trust.
The Exmoor Pony originates from Exmoor in the South West of England. They are the oldest breed of pony to be found on British Moors and have lived wild on the Moor since the Romans. In fact herds of semi-wild Exmoor Ponies and their foals can still be found on the Moor.
The Exmoor Pony at children’s farm Odds Farm Park is called Gwinnie and she is known for her historical significance as the oldest British Moor breed of pony.
The Exmoor Pony is a hardy and strong breed, with a wide forehead, thick neck, broad back and short legs. Children on a day out should look for a pony that stands up to 12.3 hands and is brown, bay or dun with black points. Their most identifiable characteristic, however, is their lightly coloured muzzle (the area around the pony’s nostrils, mouth, lips, and chin).
Shetland/Miniature Shetland Ponies are not classed as rare by the Rare Breed Survival Trust.
Shetland/Miniature Shetland Ponies originate from the Shetland Isles, located North East of mainland Scotland and excavations have revealed that they date back to the Bronze Age. With rough island conditions, these small ponies adapted to survive bitter cold weather, rocky steep hills and poor grazing lands.
They were domesticated on the Shetland Isles to pull carts and farrow the land but it was not until 1847 when the demand for those ponies increased dramatically. Following a Government Act prohibiting children from working in coal mines, these small hardy ponies took over the children’s duties of pulling coal tubs through the narrow and cramped mines. The breed remained as “pit ponies” until the introduction of the miniature horse.
Small in size, Shetland/Miniature Shetland Ponies are very cute for children to see on their day out at Odds Farm Park. Whilst not rare, they are adorable to see and at Odds Farm Park we have Treacle who is a Miniature Shetland cross Shetland pony, Beanie who is a pure Miniature Shetland pony and Coco who is a pure Shetland pony.
Their small size (measuring only up to 10 hands in height) is their most distinguishable feature for kids to recognise on a day out. They have a wonderful full main, chunky tail and can be black, bay, brown, chestnut or grey in colour.