SOME 75 out of 135 Dartmoor ponies were sold at the drift sale at Tavistock Livestock Market last Friday.

Market manager David Landick said it was not a brilliant result, but better than last year when only 80 were sold out of 250 lots.

'It could have been better but I think we were pleasantly surprised by how many sold, he said. 'The top price was 135 guineas.

'I think people brought in fewer ponies because they didn't think they would sell. It's not something we make money at, in fact we have been running at a loss for years on the pony sales but we are providing a service to our clients.'

Mr Landick said many of the pony owners also had cattle and sheep which they sold at the livestock market.

There will be no second pony sale this year. Traditionally the sales are held in October and December but last year's December event was cancelled because of the icy weather.

l Friends of the Dartmoor Hill Pony and Horse Agility Club have joined forces to launch a new competition.

New owners are being offered the chance to show just how good Dartmoor hill ponies can be and win £500.

To qualify to take part the pony must have been bought from the drift sale in Tavistock on September 30 or the forthcoming one at Chagford on October 13.

The new owners will then have six months to train their ponies to complete a specially designed agility course, film it and send it to the 'Friends of the Dartmoor Hill Pony'.

The competition will be judged by Vanessa Bee, founder of the International Horse Agility Club.

It will be based on good handling and accurate completion of the basic obstacle course.

Charlotte Faulkner of the friends' group said: 'I am hoping it will encourage people to take on one of these wonderful ponies, giving them a value and a future.'

For more information about the sales, how to enter the competition and about Dartmoor hill ponies contact Charlotte Faulkner on 01364 631036.