The well-known Exmoor Pony Centre, operated by the charity Moorland Mousie Trust, is facing imminent closure after trustees revealed a downturn in financial revenue. They have launched a Crowdfunder Appeal which has to reach its £20,000 target by 2 June.
The Moorland Mousie Trust, based near Dulverton on Exmoor, helps unwanted moor-bred Exmoor pony foals facing slaughter each autumn and operates a dedicated centre for their promotion and protection.
Opened in 2006, The Exmoor Pony Centre was a dream that the charity’s founders had after seeing the plight of these rare and endangered foals. Since then over 50,000 visitors have discovered the wonderful 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 Trustees have sadly announced that unless the charity can find a minimum of £20,000 it will be unable to stay open. “This will also mean the closure of the popular riding, education and community outreach activities enjoyed by local visitors and tourists,” said Linzi Green, Centre Manager. “We are all terribly worried about the imminent threat of closure at the end of the summer, our target of £20,000 means that we would be able to continue for the rest of 2017 while we work to raise further funding which we hope will ensure our long-term survival.”
The Exmoor Pony Centre provides a vital service for the free-living Exmoor pony herds. With closure, not only would the foals have nowhere else to go but also public access to the breed would end. This unique interaction and opportunity to ride, developed over the last 11 years, fulfills a vital need in marketing the breed and encouraging future sales and support for the ponies.
In an attempt to prevent closure, a Crowdfunder Appeal is being launched to raise funds, organised by volunteer Gail Cheeseman. The Appeal was launched on April 21 on Crowdfunder.co.uk.
Gail’s dedication to the centre and work in setting up the Appeal has been praised by the Trustees. “I just couldn’t sit by and watch the Centre close without us all having fought as hard as possible to raise the funds to stay open,” she said. “I have been supporting the charity for years and have seen first-hand the good work undertaken by trustees, staff and volunteers to improve the lives of these ponies.”
So many people and ponies have benefitted from the work of the Centre and although the charity Moorland Mousie Trust will continue, with a much smaller and less effective presence, the closing of the Centre will be a blow for all future foals bred on Exmoor.
Sarah Bryan, chief executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, stated: “The Exmoor pony is an important part of Exmoor’s heritage and one of the National Park’s special qualities. Visitors and locals alike delight in seeing the free-living herds grazing the moor and we are sorry to learn that the Centre’s future is uncertain. We have worked with them for many years and we hope that people across the country and indeed the world will feel able to help.”
Fiona Dickson veterinary surgeon to the Moorland Mousie ponies commented: “It will be a devastating loss and a massive backward step in the safeguarding of the breed if the Exmoor Pony Centre were to close. The Moorland Mousie Trust and their work through the Centre is an integral part of the Exmoor pony’s future in finding homes, education and the rescue of ponies in difficulty. I hope this fundraising initiative helps to secure the future of the Centre and raises awareness of their plight.”
Activities will continue as normal throughout the summer, as revenue brought in by activity days and visitors will also assist in raising funds. You can find the centre’s activities on the facebook page or www.exmoorponycentre.org.uk
To help or register your support, log on to www.crowdfunder.co.uk/save-the-exmoor-pony-centre and pledge whatever you can.
There are some great rewards on offer by donation through the appeal site and a video showing the work of the charity and Centre. You can also see some of the cute foals, all of which have had nowhere to go. The charity will also be pleased to accept donations by post and over the phone.
PHOTO: Taken for Exmoor Magazine by Jane A. Mares.