FARMERS from across Dartmoor came together for the annual Chagford Drift Pony Sale, where more than 400 fillies, colts, mares, stallions and donkeys were put on sale at Chagford Market.
The Drift Sale was held by the Dartmoor Hill Pony Association with huge assistance from the Friends of the Dartmoor Hill Pony charity and Moorgate Vets, with thanks to Rendells Auctioneers.
Peter Farnsworth, an auctioneer at Rendells, said: ‘We started selling at 11am and the last sale was as at 4.30pm so it was a long old day! We had some rain forecast but we managed to steer clear of it and it remained a beautiful Dartmoor day. There was a tremendous crowd of people with buyers from all over Devon as well as Cumbria, Essex, Kent, Wales and Ireland.
‘We had a much larger entry than usual with 421 ponies penned, and a clearance rate of 91%.’
The first lot of the ring made £997.50, whilst the top price of the day was £1785. After a depressed market since early 2013, many auctioneers gave up on most drift sales. However, the market has since recovered in recent years.
Mr Farnsworth said: ‘Demand has risen because many people take these animals on as on as riding ponies - for the last three years we’ve had very decent sales which is great for the trade and the farming community as a whole, it’s really encouraging.’
Charlotte Faulkner, the Chair of the Dartmoor Hill Pony Association and key organiser of the event for 22 years, said: ‘It was a real Dartmoor Day, where everyone on Dartmoor comes together and creates something quite fantastic - it feels like a really wonderful team effort.
‘The day is supported by the Friends of the Dartmoor Hill Pony who provide all the volunteers. We had about 70 volunteers this year which was amazing.
‘The market has been running for several hundred years while we’ve been grazing Dartmoor for several thousand.
‘Being lucky enough to live on Dartmoor myself, my way of giving back is to ensure that we don’t lose these ponies.’