Annual gathering and foal inspections
This annual ritual takes place every October on a Monday morning,the ‘team’ meet up at Combes gate for a briefing prior to departure.
Ridden Exmoor ponies from the Moorland Mousie Trust and Exmoor pony centre along with friends and family on other steeds and horse power spread out across the moor and with safety vechicles on the roads ,warning the passing traffic of the ponies movements, the ‘line out’ moves forward.First past the Punch bowl and onto the Trig point where the ponies regularly try and break back and cross the road due to thick gorse coverage.Then on to Spires cross.Once passed the cross roads the ponies tend to go lead file up by the Caracatus Stone and on over Draydon Knapp down towards South Hill and through the gate opposite Tarr Steps junction.Once on South Hill the gates are closed and our farm gates opened onto the farm.The herd then join the road back from Mounsey Hill Gate and trot home passed Moorside cottage and the Exmoor pony centre to the eleven acre field at Ashwick for lots of good grass and a rest.
The Allotments, Varle Hill and Ashway side will be cleared in advance of the whole moor.
The head count is very important as every single pony needs to be accounted for, one colt foal left out will cause a huge problem the following spring!
We always allow an additional day incase all does not go according to plan ie.fog.
The following morning it is time to sort out the crop of foals that have been born that spring.
The mares come down from the field in small groups-hopefully with their own foal.The foals are then separated from the mares and inspected ,one at a time ,by fully trained Exmoor pony society trained inspectors and handlers.The type and specific conformational details are checked to ensure the foals are suitable to join the free living herd or be sold on as future ridden ponies ,conservation gazers etc.A vet is at hand to insert a microchip.All foals to be sold are not branded and just identifiable via their microchip but all followers that are intended to join the herd will be branded with our herd symbol-THE ANCHOR and their individual number in the herd- a strict code of conduct is issued by DEFRA to ensure the ponies welfare is not compromised.
This identification mark ensures that should the ponies become injured,ill or stray they can be easily visually identified from a distance.
The foals then return to their dam(we hope) which can help identify their parentage which is clarified by DNA testing.
The foals are then turned out as a group while the mares have a health check prior returning to the hill for another year.Any old ,poor or problem mares are held on the farm till a decision is made to either put them to sleep or remedy the problem.
The Anchor herd retain all filly foals till positive DNA parentage is verified to join the herd as future brood mares. Several colts will be run on with the intention of becoming future breeding stallions.
A couple of ponies will remain on the farm to promote the herd in the show ring.
Naming the foals
The names of foals follow two criteria:-
1- Name will be based around their female family group from our foundation stock-
Mushroom-fruit and veg theme
Others-Literary characters ancient and modern
2-The annual change of letter in alphabetical order 2014 is J,2015 will therefore be K etc
A mare from Marmoset line in D year could be called Deer for example.