Following a Charity
I started photographing the life of a charity based in Dulverton in Exmoor that promotes and looks after Exmoor ponies that are born on the Moors. The Exmoor pony is an endangered breed that has been documented from the Middle Ages. Cut off from other equine breeds by the wildness that is still Exmoor, it remained free of human interferance and is considered very close to the Celtic Pony. In January 2015 a small herd of Exmoor mares was chosen to travel to the Czech Republic to set up a foundation herd as close to the primative pony that once roamed there.
Despite their rarity not all of the pure bred ponies born on the Moor find a home.This problem particularly affects male ponies or colts as herds usually have limited room for future stallions. If breeders were to further reduce the amount of ponies being bred the limited gene pool will continue to dwindle. During the WWII the ponies’ numbers were reduced to 50 living ponies as they were used as target practice.
The Moorland Mousie Trust,named after the Exmoor pony in the Golden Gorse books, takes in the unwanted foals after the Autumn round ups.They are socialised using special techniques and can then be fostered or go onto grazing sites.The charity runs the Exmoor Pony Centre in Duverton where people can meet and learn about the ponies and the work of the charity. The public see the nice side of life, happy ponies that will let you pet or ride them and at certain times of year they can see them socialised. They do not see the day to day life behind the scenes such as mucking out and feeding the ponies, regular vet care or the emergencies where an animal’s life hangs in the balance. They do not realise how few people are paid to look after the ponies.
Following the charity I started to document as much of its life as I could in an effort to produce a book that might explain pictorially what they did. I also discovered a commercial appetite for prints of a more aesthetic nature, this was then followed on by cards,calendars and Christmas cards and anything you could put a photograph on. I have received commissions for prints through visitors to the Centre seeing my work.
I continue at the moment dividing my time between documentary shots for the book and keeping an eye out for those moments which will look good on someone’s wall as the following images show.