Countryfile welcome rare breed Exmoor ponies

, 17 March 2015

Exmoor ponies / Sue Curnock Exmoor ponies / Sue Curnock
Author Mark Monk-Terry

Reserve Manager

Countryfile will feature the arrival of three Exmoor ponies to our Levin Down nature reserve

near Singleton in West Sussex in their Sunday, March 29 broadcast. The ponies will play an important part in keeping hawthorn, blackthorn and tough grasses in check on this Site of Special Scientific Interest nationally important chalk grassland site in West Sussex.

Countryfile’s Adam Henson travelled with the ponies to their new Sussex home where they will live out the rest of their lives. The three yearlings; two fillies and a colt even have their own passports, which Adam handed to me before he left. Named Zola, Zara and Zeus, the ponies are not used to human contact and will avoid people. We ask that people visiting the reserve don’t try to pet or feed them.

BBC Countryfile's Adam Henson with Mark-Monk Terry / Sue Curnock BBC Countryfile's Adam Henson with Mark-Monk Terry / Sue Curnock

Grazing by a variety of animals such as ponies and sheep is essential to our land management plan as it allows rare plants and wildlife to thrive by removing coarse grasses and scrub which can block sunlight. We expect to see an increase in wild flowers such as round-headed rampion as a direct result of the ponies arrival as well as clustered bellflower and cowslip and butterflies such as the brown argus and the chalkhill blue.

Ponies have a different pattern of grazing from the sheep already hard at work on the reserve, being able to tackle more woody scrub, and reach up to a higher browse line. As an added bonus we are pleased to help with the conservation of this Exmoor breed, which is listed as ‘endangered’ by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

BBC Countryfil filming the release of the Exmoor ponies / Bill Young BBC Countryfile filming the release of the Exmoor ponies / Bill Young

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Comments

  • Gill McLean:

    Fascinated by this article as I have Zola, Zara and Zeus’ half brother, Zebedee who also came from Adam Henson!

    17 Mar 2015 10:42:43