Exmoor Pony

The Exmoor pony is a horse breed native to the British Isles, where some still roam as semi-feral livestock on Exmoor, a large area of moorland in Devon and Somerset in southwest England. The Exmoor has been given "endangered" status by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, and "critical" status by the Equus Survival Trust, with between 100 and 300 active adult breeding mares in existence. It is one of the British Isles' mountain and moorland pony breeds, having conformation similar to that of other cold-weather-adapted pony breeds.

Equines have been present in Britain since 700,000 BC, and fossil remains have been found in the area of Exmoor dating back to about 50,000 BC. Some Exmoor fanciers claim that the breed has been purebred since the Ice Age; however, modern DNA research has not supported this claim, though a close morphological resemblance to the primitive wild horse has been noted. Archeological investigations have shown that horses were used for transport in the southwest of England as early as 400 BC, and Roman carvings show ponies phenotypically similar to the Exmoor pony. The Domesday Book records ponies in Exmoor in 1086, and descendants of ponies removed from the moor in 1818 form the foundation bloodstock of today's Exmoor breed, though a breed society was not formed until 1921. The breed nearly became extinct following World War II due to soldiers using them for target practice and thieves killing them for their meat. As of 2010, there are an estimated 800 Exmoor ponies worldwide.

The Exmoor pony is hardy and used for a variety equestrian activities. In its free-roaming state, the breed's presence on Exmoor contributes to the conservation and management of several natural pasture habitats.

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