You may have seen recent press coverage of welfare concerns around the pony sale at Chagford in Devon. The Mare and Foal Sanctuary has seen improvements in equine welfare standards both at the drifts and at the sale over the past decade. The drifts are the annual round up of ponies on Dartmoor. The sale is organised by Friends of the Dartmoor Hill Pony, alongside the auctioneers Rendells. It is usually attended by local members of the National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC). This year NEWC members at the sale included the Mare and Foal Sanctuary, the Hugs Foundation and Redwings.
Alongside our other NEWC colleagues, we intervene at the sale to prevent cruelty when needed and to record instances of unacceptable behaviour. If we have any concerns, we speak to the Friends of the Dartmoor Hill Pony and Rendells so they can address any worries. We do this at all of the local sales.
Any instances of cruelty towards ponies are unacceptable and we are always very happy to help any organisations or individuals who need support. Some people still struggle when it comes to handling the ponies. This is particularly the case when they are purchased by people who are inexperienced with semi-feral, young equines. The Mare and Foal Sanctuary has a long background of working with moorland ponies and is happy to share knowledge and give no-shame advice.
The ponies are a crucial part of our natural heritage and a unique keystone species in the ecosystem of Dartmoor and as such they deserve our protection. The Mare and Foal Sanctuary works directly with Dartmoor organisations to educate and support pony keepers with the handling and care of these amazing, semi-feral equines.
If you have any questions about horse and pony welfare, please contact us on 01626 355969.