THE Dartmoor Hill Pony is being given a new image by those with the welfare of the breed at heart.

The days of the ponies being sold at auction, fresh from the moors, for only a few pounds could be a thing of the past.

Dartmoor National Park Authority, together with the International League for the Protection of Horses, auctioneers and others concerned with the breed, are aiming to make the Dartmoor hill pony a type in its own right, having characteristics needed for the modern day but using the 3,000 year-old gene pool that has made them hardy and adaptable with excellent potential as ponies for children or for driving.

Instead of selling yearlings straight from the moor, breeders participating in the project will handle their stock from an early age, keeping them over the first winter before selling them.

Husseys will be conducting the first sale of this new era of ponies on July 31 at the Dartmoor Summer Open Day at Corndonford Farm near Poundsgate.

There will be about 30 ponies ranging from yearlings to older riding ponies, each pony having a herd prefix to enable buyers to obtain the history of the animal and to enable breeders to keep the individuality of their herds.

The open day will be in aid of CLIC and will also include an exhibition by the Friends of the Dartmoor Hill Pony, a sheepdog demonstration, a carriage driving display, a shire horse display and an open novice pony show.

There will also be craft stands and cream teas.

The day starts at 10am with the auction at 3pm — further information is available from Charlotte Faulkner on 01626 888713.