WILD farming skills that have formed Dartmoor’s culture and history for over 4000 years will be on display at this unique event held next week, on Tuesday, September 26 and again on October 21.  

Hosted by the Dartmoor Hill Pony Association in partnership with Our Upland Commons, a National Lottery Heritage funded initiative, visitors to two different locations on Dartmoor will be able to watch commoners demonstrate their skills rounding up the semi wild Dartmoor Hill Ponies for their annual health check. 

Once given a clean bill of health, the ponies will be sorted. 

Some will be sold at the annual Pony Drift Sale, which, as it has been for hundreds of years, is held on the second Thursday in October, while the rest will be returned to the commons as breeding stock, living semi wild and free on Dartmoor, where their natural characteristics can be preserved in future generations, safeguarding this rare population of semi wild pony and enhancing the biodiversity of Dartmoor.  

The native, semi wild, Dartmoor Hill Pony herds are known to be genetically rare and important to the equine species worldwide. Their strength and ability to survive the harsh conditions of Dartmoor made them the right animal in the right place.  

While at the gather, you can hear how it has become the first semi wild pony population to be added to the Rare Breed Survival Trust Watchlist after being recognised by the British Breed Survival Trust in 2021.   

The two public events are by ticket only, but are free, and limited numbers so that we can ensure that those joining us get the possible vantage point for this spectacular event. Register using the email address below.  

Our Upland Commons Project Officer Tamsin Thomas said: ‘It’s really important that events like this share with the public how the landscape is managed. 

‘Many people don’t understand what a common is and how it’s used, so I’m looking forward to sharing a little of our common heritage.

The Upland Commons is part of a £3million National Lottery Heritage fund initiative, supported by 25 organisations including Dartmoor National Park Authority. 

Led by the Foundation for Common Land, ‘Our Common Cause: Our Upland Commons’, involves three commons on Dartmoor. Concluding next year, its aim is to help secure the future of all upland commons. 

It has also been made possible by grants from Esmée Fairbairn, Garfield Weston Foundations plus local funders.  

► The events will be held between 9am and 3pm on September 26 and October 21. The event is free but tickets are limited. To register your interest and email [email protected]