One of the ways the Association is helping the Dartmoor Hill Ponies to meet wider audiences is through the PERFORMANCE PONY CLASSES (in-hand).
These classes were started in 2004 to give the ordinary pony, a non show type, a class at local shows, where they could demonstrate their calm sensible temperament; and give their handlers a chance to compete against other ponies irrespective of looks or breeding.

The qualifying test that the ponies has to compete was carefully planned to mimic everyday situations that a child’s pony might conceivably face.

For instance the BLUE CARPET, not a normal obstacle to be found in a field, but then asking a pony to step onto a wooden ramp going into a trailer is not run-of-the-mill.

Reversing is another movement that should be in all pony’s repertoire. How many times do you want the pony to back up, instead of turning into a tight space?
Though the classes are open to all ponies up to 14.2 hands, only bona fide DARTMOOR HILL PONIES can qualify for the Championship, that is held at KINGSBRIDGE AGRICULTURAL SHOW Saturday 3rd Spetember.
Once the Ten Shows that hold the qualifiers for the Championship have sent in the ponies names, a course is designed that is run against the clock, and the stage is set up for the Championship!

There have been Champions of totally different types over the years. The first two, Drywells Teddy Bear and Drywells Paddington Bear – a charming pair of roans, mother and son were bred at Poundsgate by the late David Parnell. In 2006 the chestnut Shetland Greenwells Leila swept the board, and then in 2007 the skewbald mare Greenwell Dainty Dot prevailed. Both the latter two were owned and bred by the Cole family from Yelverton.

From 2008 the Championship was held at Devon County Show, and the winner in 2008 and 2009 was by the bay mare Bracken, bought for £3.50 as a foal from Chagford Drift Sales. In 2010 the skewbald Shetland Rupert, aged approximately 25 years old (rescued from the meat man’s lorry) took the Championship, then Bracken retook the Championship in 2011 and 2012.

Bracken and Rupert have now retired to leave the field open for the young guns to make their mark.
The Dartmoor Hill Pony Association is very grateful to the Kingsbridge Agricultural Show  for allowing the Championship t be held there, a wonderful shop window for DARTMOOR BRED PONIES to show the world how wonderful they are!