Saturday, 21 December 2013

Spotting free-ranging Exmoors in Devon

The Exmoor National Park is, not surprisingly, populated by several herds of free-ranging Exmoor ponies. They are not feral since they are caught and checked by the Exmoor Pony Society every year, and the breeding stallions are chosen by man. In my opinion it is best to call them free-roaming or semi-feral. However, they do not get supplementary feeding, and few decades ago they were known to be very shy and avoided regions of the NP that was regularly visited by humans. Now, as the tourism and interest in them increased, they get increasingly accustomed to human presence. 
I visited the ENP in summer of 2011. The beautiful landscape of southern England was shaped by man for centuries, yet this park-like partly forested partly grassy landscape is what might be quite reminiscent of what may have been Europe's original home to its large grazers. It was not easy to find the Exmoors because of their excellent camouflage and shyness (while the heterogeneous Dartmoor ponies or other free-ranging ponies you see in England are easy to spot). But finally I came across a small group of four adult mares and one male foal. 

The herd tolerated me approaching to a distance of about 6 metres, then they started to get wary and walked about 20 metres away from me and started grazing. It was very interesting and enchanting to look for and see free-ranging herds of such beautiful primitive horses in a more or less natural environment. Let's hope Europe will have more of such places again in the near future! 


  1. Wow. Those horses are beautiful!

  2. controversial as usual :

    in times of crisis all the overload gets dumped.....