ICONIC Exmoor ponies are under threat as the charity which supports their welfare says its centre will have to close at the end of the summer unless £20,000 can be found to carry on.
The Exmoor Pony Centre opened in 2006 after the Moorland Mousie Trust charity set it up as a dedicated place for the promotion of unwanted moor bred pony foals, which faced slaughter every autumn.
Since then over 50,000 visitors have discovered the native Exmoor pony breed and over 300 moor-bred foals have found a future either as riding ponies or within conservation grazing herds throughout the UK and abroad.
This week, following several years of rising costs and decreasing income, the charity’s trustees announced that, unless they can find at least £20,000, the centre will be unable to stay open.
Now one of the centre volunteers has just launched a crowdfunding appeal to try and raise enough money to keep it going.
Although the Exmoor pony herds live freely, the centre in Exmoor National Park provides a vital service and if it closes the foals would have nowhere else to go, and public access to the breed would end, the charity says.
“We are all terribly worried about the imminent threat of closure at the end of the summer, it would mean the end of the popular riding, education and community outreach activities enjoyed by local visitors and tourists, and we have major concerns the welfare of the ponies will be really adversely affected,” said Linzi Green, centre manager.