Saturday, 26 March 2011

Days Out in Devon: Ranger Ralph Revisited

This is Smartie, a beautiful pedigree Dartmoor pony.  Louis was introduced to her during his latest Ranger Ralph event run by the Dartmoor National Park.  If you're visiting Devon with kids, it's worth seeing if one of the monthly activities is scheduled whilst you're here and then joining up so they can take part.  The annual membership fee of four second class stamps really is a bargain.

Some of the 'Ralphers', as the kids were, rather unfortunately, referred to by a Ranger spent the morning at the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust Visitors Centre in its new home at  Parke, the National Trust's property at Bovey Tracey.  This organisation aim to protect the indigenous moorland pony from extinction.   They're doing this by promoting the commerical value of the species, showcasing the breed's suitability for conservation grazing and educating landowners who own the ponies so they're able to produce stock that has been handled to foster a suitable temperament for pulling carts or being ridden.   The charity are trying to control the numbers of ponies on the moor by planned breeding programmes thus reducing the need for culling.  This has to be a good thing.

So, after an informative talk for members and accompanying parents, the kids really got stuck in.  With the help of an enthusiastic team of volunteers they learnt how to groom and lead their ponies.  I haven't quite worked out what happened next and whether the Ralphers took their ponies for a walk around the estate or it was the other way around!

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