Published: May 23rd 2012May 23rd 2012
Hi everyone, it's Amanda Gee here writing from the small town of Beer in the county Devon in England. Hope you enjoy the blog and continue to follow as we're not quite halfway though our exciting trip.
"The friendship of a pony gives confidence to the young, peace to the unhappy, and delight to us all." (author unknown, found on an Exmoor Pony Centre publication)
After visiting the Exmoor Pony Centre today, I think all of us on our trip would agree. For those out in our blogosphere and unfortunately not on the trip with us, you missed a wonderful sunny day in Southwest England. We loaded the bus at 6:30 this morning and for the first time this trip I think, we were all on time.
While it was a long and sometimes harrowing drive out to the pony center from the lovely Roman city of Bath, it was well worth our time.
For those unfamiliar with the Exmoor Pony, they are a small sturdy breed around 12 hands that roamed the Earth in days of the Ice Age, along with animals such as the saber-tooth tiger and the wooly mammoths. They are always brown or dun in color, with mealy (creamish) noses, and cannot have any white markings or hair anywhere on their compact bodies.
It's quite amazing to me that these ponies have survived, but it's due to efforts of their own hardiness and the people who support them.
The Exmoor Pony Centre was founded in 2006 to aid the Moorland Mousie Trust, a charity that was designed to promote and conserve the Exmoor Pony. Val Sherwin and her staff of Lindsey and Lorna showed us around their centre, let us play with their ponies, and even helped us find wild ponies on the moor.
We spent a few hours at the centre and some of us even enjoyed a pony picnic while eating lunch. It was a gorgeous day, and we got to soak up some rays of sunshine while hearing more about the ponies.
The centre keeps about 20 ponies at a time due to the limited funds, staff, and facility. Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall is a patron of the centre, which helps a little with publicity but not enough.
The ponies are few in number, with only about 300 grazing on the Exmoor. The ponies have a reputation as being strong equines, in body as well as temperament. As Lindsey said though, once people get to know them, they'll say, "Yeah, I want to buy this pony."
All of us learned that pretty quickly, and if there was a feasible way, we would be flying back with well over 25 ponies. Alas, that's not plausible, but to cheer us up we're staying in a seaside town called Beer.
If you would like to find out more about where we visited today, please visit www.exmoorponycentre.org/uk.