Category Archives: Equine


Imagine performing as a young rider in front of a large crowd in an arena. The competitors in the Pony Club horse & hound show jumping challenge will do just that at Westpoint this December.

Introduced to the annual Westcountry Equine Fair nine years ago, the challenge now has a dedicated following from both pony clubs and audiences alike.

The Westcountry Equine Fair takes place at Westpoint in Exeter on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 December. The event, now in its 21st year, is pleased to announce the four pony club teams taking part this year are:  East Devon Hunt Pony Club; Lamerton; Polden Hills and Poole & District.

The clubs will compete against each other in this fast-paced and thrilling competition. Riders will jump a course followed by runners and their dogs.

The Pony Club has a long tradition of being the starting point for a large majority of equestrian team members and medal winners including this year’s stars Grant Bazin and Alexander Bragg. Not only does the Pony Club offer nine exciting disciplines including Eventing, Dressage, Polocrosse and Tetrathlon, but it also provides instruction in horse care and riding for people up to 25 years.

No Pony? No problem! You can join in the fun at one of 500 Pony Club centres across the UK. So if the Pony Club challenge at the Westcountry Equine Fair inspires you, then look up your local Pony Club for more information.

In addition to the unrivalled entertainment, the Equine Fair also features a dedicated shopping village ‘for the horse, for the rider and for Christmas’, with over 200 companies offering helpful advice and great show offers on 1000s of products for horse and rider including many big name brands including Joules, Ariat, Toggi and Thorowgood. Also look out for the BETA Equestrian Knowledge Zone in hall 2.

Don’t forget you don’t need to carry those heavy shopping bags around with the shop and drop facility in the foyer – all donations to Devon Air Ambulance.

This is certainly the total equestrian experience for the dedicated rider! To book your tickets in advance and save money visit or call 01392 421500 (office hours) and follow the event on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated.



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

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

To help or register your support, log on to 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.



Tuesday 4 April saw the first leg of the new North Devon Schools Show Jumping League, held at Coxleigh Barton Equestrian Centre, near Barnstaple, where teams from South Molton Community College picked a hat trick of firsts in each of the four classes.

Maisie Atkinson, riding It’s About Time took individual first in the 60cm class, and South Molton’s team Thunder won the 70cm class (Maisie Atkinson on It’s About Time, Anna Drury on Jet; Molly Matthews on Mystic Meg; Chloe Sanders on Tickled Pink).

Team Storm (Maisie Atkinson on Little William; Izzy Breard on The Grand Sort Jury; Molly Matthews on Million Dollar Girl; Grace Sinclair on Cregg Surprise) took first place in the 80cm and 90cm classes.

Schools competing in the League included the Community Colleges from South Molton, Chulmleigh, Pilton, Park School, Holsworthy, Torrington, Bideford, The Gateway Federation and West Buckland School. The under-11 years were also represented by The Chulmleigh Cubs and The Shirwell Shooting Stars.

Each of the four classes included a team and also had a number of individual entries – a total of 58 combinations jumped as individuals throughout the day. The South Molton Community College pupils also picked up a number of additional individual rosettes.

The series is the brainchild of Vicky Fiddes and consists of four monthly competitions to be held at Coxleigh Barton, Barnstaple, and Mullacott Event Centre, Ilfracombe, throughout the summer of 2017.

Mrs Sherwood, South Molton Community College’s team coach, said, “How amazing that we had such a winning streak on our first time out. I know that most of our young people have experience of riding for the Dulverton West Pony Club and this seems to have stood them in good stead in the first leg of the League. Well done to all of them, some of whom are on new ponies for the 2017 season. They rode very well, looked smart and were a credit to our sponsor Acorn Saddlery, who kindly donated the numnahs and sweatshirts, in the school’s new purple livery.

However, there are still three other elements of the competition to go and we know that anything could happen from here on in!”

Watch this space…

And you can follow the League on Facebook.

PHOTO: Team Storm. Left to right: Molly Matthews, Izzy Beard, Grace Sinclair and Maisie Atkinson.


Four lucky people have been selected to take part in the Geoff Billington demonstrations on each of his morning slots at this year’s Westcountry Equine Fair.

The event, which takes place on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 December at Westpoint, Exeter, will see Zoe Coombes and Taggy Forseter-Bennett appearing on Saturday and Sammy Cotton and Asha Smith appearing on Sunday.

Zoe Coombes , from Newton Abbot, is 23 and with her horse Chamora S, a 16.2hh grey, 9 year old warmblood, has competed up to 130cm jumps and has won National Amateur second rounds.

Taggy Forester-Bennett is 19 years old and from the Honiton area. She specialises in eventing and is currently competing her horse IBonza Moorabinda (Moo), a 16 year old thoroughbred bay mare at BE Advanced and 3*. The show jumps at these events are 130cm.

Sammy Cotton from Looe in Cornwall is 17 years old and has had wins and placings on the sunshine tour Vejer 2015/16 and 1st at the Troon Puissance 2015

Asha Smith from Cullompton was crowned with her horse Armani Pullman National Schools BS Champions at 1.10m and also jumped at Chepstow International at 1.20m and was placed every day

Watch Geoff put these willing students through their paces in each of the morning demonstrations. Geoff has a wealth of experience in the industry. Riding since the age of 11, Geoff has represented Great Britain in European and world show jumping competitions and the Olympics.

The Westcountry Equine Fair, now in its twentieth year, hosts a wide selection of educational, competitive and entertaining demonstrations in both the indoor and outdoor (marquee covered) arenas including: Geoff Billington, Jonathan Marshall Horseback Falconry, Welsh Pony & Cob Society, Musical Ride, Sirona Therapeutic Horsemanship; Junior Show Jumping; Show preparation and showing lectures, a native breed parade and many more. There will also be the BETA sponsored Equestrian Knowledge Zone. You can ask advice from a selection of experts including: equine vet; equine dentist; Lorinery; referral farrier; equine nutritionist and free hat and body protector checks and worming.

The show is not complete without the amazing equestrian shopping village. Stay stylish with the latest fashions; keep up to date with new products and excellent advice and of course plenty of the main brands, show offers, competitions and book signings. With over 200 companies, this is a great equestrian shopping experience ‘For the horse, for the rider and for Christmas’. Don’t forget you don’t need to carry those heavy shopping bags around with the shop and drop facility in the foyer – all donations to Breast Cancer Care.

This is certainly the total equestrian experience for the dedicated rider!

To book your tickets in advance and save money visit or call 01392 421500 (office hours) and follow the event on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated.