A NEW website dedicated to the Dartmoor pony which enables visitors to identify herds during their travels on the moors and learn of their heritage has had an 'amazing response' in its first week.

The website was launched last week by the Friends of the Dartmoor Hill Pony, who received a grant worth nearly £20,000 from the Lottery's local heritage initiative to fund it.

Although the number of ponies on the moor has dropped from an estimated 30,000 after the war to around 2,000, supply has outstripped demand and the prices have plummeted.

Charlotte Faulkner from the society said the aim was to raise the profile of the Dartmoor pony.

She said the history of the Dartmoor pony would be 'lost forever' if it was not done now: 'We want to document it and put it where everyone can see it'. Included will be stories from farmers who have owned herds on the moors and

information will be gathered over the coming year.

One section will allow people to see what ponies are for sale and enable them to contact breeders direct for a private sale. 'Auction is not the appropriate way to sell ponies any more,' Mrs Faulkner said. It was hoped to build markets for the ponies as perfect children's and driving ponies — but the 'for sale' section would be only a small part of the website, she stressed.

'The ponies are probably the most important guardians of the moor, which is why the farmers continue to breed ponies — to conserve it. It isn't about money, it is about conserving their heritage.

'The website will act as a point of contact for people to find out the truth about what is going on in relation to the ponies,' she said. 'There has been an amazing response so far.'

The site can be found at