Equestrian Activities In Devon
For the horse lover, there is much of interest in Devon.To start with, Devon has two superb racecourses. The first, at Exeter, is located on the top of Haldon Hill with superb views both over Exeter a...
For the horse lover, there is much of interest in Devon.
To start with, Devon has two superb racecourses. The first, at Exeter, is located on the top of Haldon Hill with superb views both over Exeter and Dartmoor. The racecourse doesn't just cater for racing: family days out mingle with exciting and thrilling high class steeplechases. Some famous horses have raced here - think of Desert Orchid and Best Mate, for example! And Newton Abbot racecourse also has a reputation as a holiday racing venue.
For anyone interested in shows and equestrian events Bicton Arena, near Budleigh Salterton, offers a huge selection of things to enjoy. There are grass arenas, stables, an all-weather practice ring, a cross country course and other high class facilities. Bicton is home to horse trials, show jumping and even one day events.
The Donkey Sanctuary and Devon Horse and Pony Sanctuary is a place of interest to all, not just horse lovers. Located in the gently rolling hills of East Devon, all unwanted donkeys are lovingly cared for. There is also a wonderful Horse and Pony Sanctuary at Manaton, near Dartmoor. You can get more details of all these venues at the Devon Visitor Guide Website (see details below).
Dartmoor National Park is, as you may well know, the natural home of the native breed of Dartmoor Hill Pony. The ponies are hardy - they have to be, for they live on the moor all year round. However, they are not truly wild, because they are the property of the farmers who graze them on the commons. The ponies are reputed to have lived on Dartmoor for approximately 3,500 years - they were mentioned in historical documents in AD 1012.
In the 1800s the Dartmoor ponies were used to transport stone and granite. They have an easier life these days - though other issues affect them, over-grazing being one, for there are now over 3000 ponies on Dartmoor.
The ponies have also been used for show jumping, cross country, as working hunter ponies, for one day events, for carriage driving, and of course as the ever-popular family pony. You can find details of how to learn more about Dartmoor ponies on the Devon Guide Website.
Equally, the Exmoor National Park is home to the very distinctive Exmoor Pony. This breed is thought to be one of the current closest breeds to the wild horses of Europe. Again, like on Dartmoor, the ponies are owned by local farmers and are allowed to graze on the common land of the moor all year.
Exmoor ponies have very distinctive features including buff colour on their underparts and also around their eyes and nose; by contrast, the mane, tail and points are black. The rest of their body can vary from smoky-brown to red-brown or dark brown. The summer coat of the Exmoor pony is fine and glossy but during the winter these hardy ponies grow a thick protective coat. The average height of the pony is around 12 hands.
The Lundy Island Pony is a breed of pony from the offshore island of Lundy, created by the exotic crossing of New Forest Pony mares and pure Arabian stallions. The hardships of life on the island has made these ponies strong and hardy.
A more unusual form of horse-related activity is to be found in the Grand Western Horseboat Company which gives you the chance to explore the Grand Canal near Tiverton. These traditionally painted barges are - as you may have guessed - horse drawn. When you step aboard, you move back to a slower way of life, where the pace is dicated by the rhythm of the horse.
This company is one of the few left in Britain which uses horse-drawn barges - they operate in all-weathers, a tribute to the hardy beasts which pull the boats along!
The Miniature Pony Centre near to Moretonhampstead offers the opportunity to meet and touch a range of miniature ponies and donkeys. It's a great day out for all the fmaily!
Life as a donkey is easy when the local council regulates your working hours! Such is the case for donkeys on Exmouth Beach - they take you up and down the two miles of golden sand at Exmouth.
And last but not least, carriage driving is fast becoming more and more popular. Devon has many centres which provide tuition in the ancient art of horse drawn carriage driving. Among these, the one we recommend is the National Trust centre at Arlington Court, where there is a superb carriage collection and courses on carriage driving are available.
Article Tags: Carriage Driving
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The Devon Visitor Guide contains hundreds of pages of information on Devon hotels and other accommodation, as well as restaurants, walks, places to go and things to do. In fact, we have all the information you'll need for a great holiday in Devon. Find us at The Devon Visitor Guide