Dedicated to the wild ponies on Bodmin, Dartmoor and Exmoor
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Every year, wild ponies are sent to markets to be sold. Most go to seasonal autumn sales, although on Dartmoor there are 2 extra sales - one in June, and one in December.

This year, the total number of entries in the autumn seasonal sales in Devon and Cornwall was 1501. Most were foals, only recently separated from their mothers.

Poor standards

"The Welfare of Horses at Markets (and Other Places of Sale) Order 1990" is a law that exists to ensure basic welfare standards for equines at all UK sales.

There is a huge difference between standards set at individual markets in Devon and Cornwall. Most sales are not adhering to the regulations of the Order.

Chagford market, held on Dartmoor on 14th October, had by far, the best welfare standards of all the regional sales in 2010. The facilities there have been constructed especially for the ponies, and the moving of the ponies through the market pens by staff was careful and quiet.

At Brendon market on Exmoor, there were at least 9 serious breaches of the 1990 Order, and a welfare report was submitted to the authorities. No enforcing organisations were present at the sale.

If you witness breaches of the Welfare of Horses at Markets Order whilst you are attending a market, you can go to the Auctioner's Office and ask to speak to the Trading Standards Officer. The officer should take action to resolve any breaches. Alternatively you could contact the RSPCA, or the police.

The full details of the legislation can be found here:


A minimum price of £10 is set for each lot at the markets. This prevents ponies being sold for extremely low prices, but many ponies do not even attract interest at this level.

At the 2009 Tavistock autumn sale, 44% of the ponies entered were unsold - 142 out of the 326 entered.

Ponies that attract the highest bids tend to be ponies with unusual markings, which is why there are lots of spotted and "coloured" ponies. Single colour ponies, which are the traditional standard, are not appealing to buyers in the current market.

Colts will always fetch lower prices because the added cost of castration (at around £250 per pony) is an extra consideration for purchasers.

The large numbers of ponies being presented for sale, year after year, will continue to keep prices low. At Chagford in 2009 "Despite the presence this year of 20 colt foals under the Dartmoor Heritage Scheme, prices fell short of expectations among them with a top price of £31.50".

One of this year's farmers reported taking his ponies to market but only making £60.

The cost of passporting and microchipping ponies coming out of the derogation area, is added onto the purchaser's final bidding price. This means that farmers don't have to meet these costs.

No Irish buyers were seen at the autumn Dartmoor sales this year.

"Rare" breeds

Exmoor ponies, which are considered to be a rare breed were present at Brendon sales on Exmoor. These were fully registered ponies. If these ponies are truly treasured for their rarity, as we are led to believe, why were these 15 mares, fillies and colts sent to an uncertain fate? Registered Exmoor pony colts made just £40 each at this sale, which would have been less than the cost of registration, microchipping and passporting alone.




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