“ I have never before, in my long and eclectic career, been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty as I experienced filming War Horse on Dartmoor.” Steven Spielberg.

Charity’s unique gift helps protect the future of Dartmoor’s iconic ponies

It’s rare to find a gift that you and the recipient feel good about, but by buying the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust’s Gorse Package, you’ll be supporting an important cause while bringing happiness to someone close to your heart.

The Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust (DPHT) is a charity which works to protect the future of true Dartmoor ponies in their natural, native environment. It carries out important conservation projects within 450 hectares it manages at Bellever, in the heart of Dartmoor, an area very popular with visitors, where a herd of 26 ponies play a crucial role in habitat maintenance and management through conservation grazing.

However, lockdown has seriously impacted the charity’s usual revenue streams. Its equine assisted learning programme at Parke, Bovey Tracey, using Dartmoor ponies, normally provides educational opportunities for children with special needs and is an important resource, while its bespoke Ponies Inspiring People provides a programme for individuals, families and community groups. Both came to a halt at the start of the pandemic last year. Its free guided walks for groups at Bellever have also stopped at the moment.
That’s why the DPHT’s Gorse Package is proving popular with those who love Dartmoor as not only does it help to support the future of true Dartmoor ponies in their natural, native environment but it gives members unique access to the charity including a free walk and talk, e-newsletters, a half day photography workshop with international photographer Malcolm Snelgrove, and an invite to the annual meet the pony keepers’ day and all for just £75.

Dru Butterfield, who co-founded the charity 15 years ago, said: “It’s been a very difficult period, and we need people to support us so that the public can continue to enjoy the benefits of our work at Bellever and so that we can continue to promote true Dartmoor ponies, their role on Dartmoor and their importance in terms of the environment and biodiversity.

“We’re driven by conservation and education, and support from the public will help us protect the future of Dartmoor ponies and continue our conservation work at Bellever where we aim to inspire people to connect with Dartmoor’s wildlife, landscape and heritage.”

She added: “After lockdown we welcome people back to Bellever so that they can enjoy the benefits of wellbeing and being outdoors. The Dartmoor pony is the keystone species both in terms of the work we carry out here and in helping to encourage visitors to enjoy the great outdoors. The pony is recognised for its conservation benefits which have a cascade effect.

“Without the trampling and the nibbling, you wouldn’t get the dung that produces the dung beetle and other insects that attract so many rare bird species to the site. But ultimately, aside from giving the Dartmoor pony a viable role for conservation, we really don’t want to lose the iconic Dartmoors out on Dartmoor. I am worried for their future and it’s vital that people understand that unless we can continue protecting and promoting, the day of the true native ponies on Dartmoor could be numbered.”
To purchase a Gorse Package please visit dpht.co.uk/gorse-membership