The Exmoor National Park Authority’s role as a herd owner began in the late 1970s when officials from the Exmoor Pony Society visited the National Park Officer to discuss ways of assisting the breed.
At that time the Society was having real difficulty in maintaining the numbers and quality of the herds, particularly on Exmoor itself. This latter fact was of great concern to the officials as they felt that only the moor bred herds could maintain that hardiness
and spirit of self-survival
that is such a characteristic of the ponies. It was agreed that when suitable opportunities presented themselves, then the position of ENPA directly owning ponies should be examined. As a direct consequence the Park Authority established two of its own herds of Exmoor ponies:
Herd 42 began at Haddon Hill
on 11th April 1981. It consisted of two fillies & four young mares from other long established herds such as the Anchor herd and Herd 23. These fillies were joined in 1982 by stallion Loganberry.
Herd 52 was established at Warren
in 1982. Four mares and a filly were purchased from Mrs Hudson of Landacre and turned out onto Warren. They were then joined by stallion Quartz.
In 1997 the decision was taken in to stop running a stallion with either of the herds because of the general surplus of young stock. However, due to the close proximity of the Warren herd to other herds, breeding continued thanks to neighbouring stallions getting onto The Warren. In 2008 all mares were removed from Warren, apart from a few that had escaped and were running with the Tippbarlake herd. These escapees were eventually caught up in 2011 and the Warren Herd had its final rwo foals in 2012. The Warren mares were taken to Haddon Hill and now run with the Haddon mares.
Exmoor National Park Authority also owns ground at North Hill, near Minehead. This is good moorland and provides an easy living coastal environment for ponies. All our ponies that are old, barran or unsuitable for breeding are homed on North Hill. We like to call it our retirement home for ponies.
In 2016 the Authority took on the Knightoncombe Herd (Herd 8)
from the Mitchell family. On Haddon we currently run mares from the Warren, Haddon & Knightoncombe Herd. Due to the increasing age of some of our mares and the decrease in number of true Haddon mares the decision was also taken to return to breeding by running a stallion, Knightoncombe Capercallie,
with our mares throughout 2016 / 2017.
Exmoor National Park Authority’s herds are managed by Ranger Richard Eales.