CharacteristicsThere is little variation between adult Exmoor Ponies although they naturally range from about 11½ hands to 13½ hands, the majority are 12 - 12.2 hands.
The ponies are very stocky and strong, with deep chests and large girths. The large capacity of the digestive system is important in winter as they consume large quantities of rough material which provides them with internal warmth.
Their colouring falls within a limited range of bay, brown on dun, with black points (with no white markings) and as such they blend in very well against their native background of heather, grass and bracken. They should have mealy markings on the muzzle and around the eyes.
The prominent flesh around the eyes provides a defence system against harsh weather, and is knows as a 'toad eye'.
The ponies have neat, hard feet with a slate-grey sole, making them well suited to coping with rough terrain. Their legs are short, straight and set apart, and their action is straight and smooth - not as exaggerated an action as some breeds.
A good Exmoor pony will have well laid back shoulders and a deep chest. The ribs should be long, deep, well-sprung and wide apart, with a broad back and level across the loins.
In summer their coat is close, hard and bright, but to withstand the cold, harsh Exmoor winter they grow a coat in two layers which provides them, in effect, with thermal underwear and a raincoat! The hairs next to the skin are quite fine in texture and form a layer of insulation. The outer hairs are coarser and greasy giving waterproof protection. That this system is highly efficient is best demonstrated by the phenomenon of snow thatching: snow collects on top of the ponies coat as insufficient body heat is lost to melt it; and the snow can be periodically shaken off.
Freddy in his winter coat
Freddy in his summer coat
The tail is neatly set in and the fan of short hairs near the root of the tail is called a snow chute. The mane, forelock and tail are thick and full, and also shed water efficiently.
The Exmoor pony, like all wild ponies has developed in response to its environment and because it has lived and evolved in such a relatively small area over such a long period, must be one of the purest examples of equines in existence today.