Critically endangered ponies stopping in Pictou County

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Earth Arc is going to be home to some Newfoundland Pony stallions stopping here as part of a cross Canada journey that will see them return to their ancestral home.

Earth Arc is going to be home to some Newfoundland Pony stallions who are stopping here as part of a cross Canada journey that will see them return to their ancestral home.

The ponies were transported from a remote location near Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island, where the future of the herd was uncertain.

Through efforts of the Newfoundland Pony Society and a large number of volunteers from across the country the ponies have been travelling this month. Ten of the mares are going to be staying in Boyleston at the home of Maud Peters.

Raven Jackson, who manages Earth Arc animal rescue here in Pictou County said they were initially only supposed to get three stallions, but is now expecting seven for at least the night.

She said she was contacted by members of the Newfoundland Pony Society for help in housing the ponies on their journey.

The Newfoundland Pony is a heritage breed and is classified as critically endangered with fewer than 400 left in the world, many of which are too old to breed.

There are 10 mares and 10 stallions in the herd that’s being transported. They range in age from four to 17 years old. Four of them are registered Newfoundland ponies; the other 16 are their offspring and will be registered with the Newfoundland Pony Society.

“It’s a major, major find for the Newfoundland Pony Society,” Jackson said.

The ponies are similar to the Sable Island ponies in that they had to survive harsh conditions on their own and therefore only the strongest survived.

“They’re very, very hardy,” she said. “They take very little to feed them. Most of the time they really like people.”

She has an old stallion Newfoundland pony herself that was destined for the butcher when it was rescued. Like her stallion, these new arrivals have deep foundation bloodlines and therefore are important for the survival of the breed.

She said the planning for the trip has been going on since May.

“This has taken quite a while to get together. It’s such a major thing,” she said. “It’s just amazing they were found.”

Peters, who was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the 10 mares Wednesday, said she is excited about having them and helping with this effort.

“It’s a journey of coming home for them,” she said.

With numbers dwindling she said it’s incredible to have these ponies which represent a significant part of the breed’s population.

“These 20 ponies are extremely important to help preserve the breed.”

After a few weeks stay in Nova Scotia, the ponies are expected to be sent to Newfoundland.

 

“These resilient animals have endured upheaval and a long journey, and they are finally coming home where they will be safe. This could not have happened without the support of a small group of donors in Newfoundland and several dedicated volunteers,” said Cle Newhook, president of the Newfoundland Pony Society. “Bringing these ponies into the population in Newfoundland represents a substantial boost to the total number of Newfoundland ponies which is estimated at around 400.”

 

FAST FACTS

• From an estimated population of 12,000 in the 1970s, pony numbers dropped to fewer than 100 in the 1980s.

• Currently there are fewer than 400 Newfoundland ponies

• Their ancestors were primarily Exmoor, Dartmoor and New Forest ponies

 

Characteristics

  • Approximately 11 to 14.2 hands high
  • Thick dark mane, tail and lower legs
  • Commonly brown though other colours are not uncommon
  • May experience mild to radical colour changes from one season to the next
  • Weight range from 400 to 800 pounds
  • Small head with deep jowls and short hairy ears

• Small flint hard hoofs and a low set tail

Organizations: Newfoundland Pony Society

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Pictou County, Canada Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island Boyleston Sable Island Nova Scotia New Forest

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