Dartmoor Pony Breed – Profile, Facts, Photos

In the pony world, there are few ponies with a history as rich and as colorful as the Dartmoor pony. This short and stocky pony has seen history unfolding, with its breed dating back to 1,500 BC. Its ancestors roamed the Arab landscapes as the Dartmoor pony has genes from multiple breeds, including the Arab purebred, Welsh, and Fell pony.

With that in mind, let’s have a look at the pony’s unique features, separating it from the crowd.

History and Origin

Multiple origin studies have shown that the Dartmoor pony dates back 1,500 BC and has left a trail of evidence throughout written history as well. The ponies were highly valued in the Middle Ages, being used for their incredible strength in stamina. They were the animal of choice when it came to moving heavy loads over long distances.

The 20th century saw ponies as important pawns in the prison business as guards would move inmates in and out of the Dartmoor prison. They were also a reliable asset for miners who had to haul often extreme loads during their schedule.

With time, the Dartmoor pony received new blood from breeds like the Arabian and the Fell pony, bringing new characteristics to an already polished breed. The Dartmoor breed appeared as official in 1898 with the help of the Polo Pony Society, and the rest is history.


The Dartmoor pony is a pony in the true sense of the word. Unlike other bigger and heavier breeds like the Dales pony, The Dartmoor stays true to its name. Its short and bulky body is typical for the species, along with the small but well-contoured head and thick fur.

You can recognize a Dartmoor pony from a mile away due to its unique, muscular, and bulky profile. Most ponies would also come with thick and majestic manes and tails, adding to their royal look.

– Size and Height

The Dartmoor pony stays true to its name, reaching 11.1 to 12.2 hands, translating to 45-50 inches. This short stature, combined with the bulky and muscular frame, gives it the authentic pony look.

Its size is much more impressive when you pair it with its extreme durability, endurance, and strength. The Dartmoor pony is pound for pound, one of the strongest of its species.

– Weight

The Dartmoor pony weighs around 440 lbs. It’s a short, strong, and fluffy animal with Herculean strength and a look of a teddy bear. It’s also worthy of mentioning that the Dartmoor pony behaves how it looks. It is a docile, friendly, calm, and reliable partner to any horse and pony lover.

This makes it the ideal pet to have for your family and a trustworthy companion for field working and equine events.

– Colors

The Dartmoor pony comes in a variety of colors, each bringing personality and uniqueness to an already special animal. You can find the pony in shades of black, brown, bay, chestnut, or gray. Small variations are possible within these nuances.

The breeding community will, however, stay away from excessive coloring patterns that may occur occasionally. These include disruptive white markings on the back, legs, or shoulders.

– Speed

Let’s be honest, speed is not one of Dartmoor pony’s specialties. This breed is mostly known for its tender and docile temperament, making it ideal for child riding and endurance-based activities. Speed has no place in this pony’s world.

When necessary, the Dartmoor pony may probably reach 20 mph, but only if the situation requires it and never over long distances. Its body isn’t built for speed either, with its bulky abdomen, short legs, and compact frame.

– Temperament

The fact that the Dartmoor pony is famous for being a children’s pony says a lot about the breed. Some of its core characteristics include gentleness, kindness, loyalty, reliability, and calmness. The Dartmoor pony is the ideal choice for slow and calm riding in the sunset or for teaching your kids the art of riding.

Its chill temperament also makes it ideal for dressage.

– Lifespan

With proper care and a balanced and healthy lifestyle, there’s no reason why a Dartmoor pony wouldn’t live 35 to 40 years or more. This is more than your average 25-30 years for most horse breeds, making the pony that much more valuable.

With such an extensive lifespan, it’s safe to say that the pony will quickly become a member of your family.

Diet and Nutrition

The Dartmoor pony is happy with its daily grass, hay, and plenty of fresh water. The pony’s diet generally varies depending on the amount of physical activity it performs daily. Make sure you feed your pony sufficient quality food if you’re using it for demanding activities throughout the day.


The Dartmoor pony may require more extensive grooming services, given its thicker coat and rich mane and tail. I recommend brushing its coat daily to eliminate dust, dirt, insects and keep its coat clean and healthy-looking. The same goes for the fluffy mane, which will often grow to sizes a lion would envy.


The Dartmoor pony is most popular for its participation in children’s riding training. The pony’s size makes it unfit for larger adults, despite its impressive strength. This makes the pony more suitable for kids, teenagers, and smaller jockeys.

The pony is also useful in the field working, showing events, riding, etc.


The Dartmoor pony comes with price tags ranging between $1,000 to $10,000. These, of course, are the extremes since most ponies will fall somewhere below the middle. An average Dartmoor pony with no relevant pedigree but in good shape will probably take you around $3,000, sometimes lower.

Health Problems

Some Dartmoor ponies may develop the Strangles disease. This is a bacterial infection linked to the Streptococcus equi equi, which may prove quite aggressive. The main symptoms include abscesses and lymph nodes in the neck and around the pony’s jaws.

It is a highly contagious disease that’s usually transmitted from horse to horse, so minimizing the contact with other horses or potentially infected ponies is the key to prevention.

There are two main takeaways here:

  1. The pony will generally develop immunity to this streptococcus that will last around 5 years
  2. The disease is more aggressive among younger ponies than the older ones


The current worldwide population of Dartmoor ponies revolves around 2,000 – 3,000 individuals. There are only several hundred of them in the US, and the bad news is that their number is seemingly in decline since the 1900s.


The Dartmoor pony is a reliable, calm, and intelligent companion. You can use it for anything involving strength and endurance, as well as teaching your children the secrets of riding.

With adequate care and love, your Dartmoor pony will remain part of your family for decades to follow.

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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