Rare Exmoors: The Old Altai Line

Why might an Exmoor bloodline become rare?

Michael Dewhurst gives us an insight into the under-represented bloodline from the Exmoor foundation mare, o76/1 Old Altai. Since the original article was written for Native Pony Sou’West in 2012, much has changed; with foals being born, ponies passing away and much time & effort on the part of those involved with the ponies. Many of our wonderful breeds bloodlines have become less well represented simply due to having a career other than breeding.

Vinca Major (c) Fiona Dickson

Herd 2 was given by the Speed Family to the Royal (Dick) Veterinary College in Edinburgh, who amongst other things used ponies in a trekking herd. As you can imagine working as part of a trekking herd limits the ability of mares to breed and as happens with a lot of vet students now, many foals born to herd 2 ended up with former students as ridden ponies and so never went on to breed. If I may give the example of the mare o76/1 Old Altai.

She has 3 registered daughters, one of which was 2/56 Puss Moth, who was very prolific having 14 registered offspring, most of which were given the name “moth”. Only 3 of them went on to breed – two females 2/82 Oatmoth and 2/65 Little Gobi and one male, 2/54 Flintlock. Only Oatmoth has descendants alive today.

Oatmoth’s only registered offspring was 2/95 Thistlemoth who worked as a trekking pony for many years. Like so many of the ponies before her she retired to a former Dick student and went to live with the Hyland family. The Hyland’s were subsequently contacted by members of the Exmoor Pony Society to let them know how important she was to the breed as a whole and so the Hylands, who were fortuante enough to be in a position to breed Exmoor ponies decided to put Thistlemoth in foal and at age 22 she had a daughter, Gypsy. Obviously at her age, Thistlemoth was unlikely to breed too many more foals and so was retired from breeding having successfully reared her daughter. The Hyland’s decided that keeping the “moth” line going was important and decided to breed from Gypsy. In 2004, she had a daughter Rosemoth. Sadly Gypsy died while she was carrying her second foal a few years later despite everyone involved best efforts. This did not deter them from breeding and Rosemoth bred her first daughter Maymoth in 2009. Since writing the original article the Hyland family’s circumstances have changed and they had to find homes for both Rosemoth and Maymoth. It was decided it would be safer for the bloodline if the mares joined herds in different part of the country and so Rosemoth joined Herd 49 in Brecon in 2015, In 2016, she went on to have a colt foal by Spidean Nan Clach and is in foal to Coedywern Nimrod for 2017. Maymoth moved to Exmoor and is running with a group of breeders who have decided to use their piece of moor in order to breed ponies from under represented bloodlines. In 2016 Maymoth produced her first foal, a filly and so the line continues.

2/78 Matchlock

​I said that Old Altai had 3 daughters. Another 2/46 Throstle went on to register 6 foals – 3 colts, 3 fillies. One of the colts, 2/76 Lanner Hawk went onto become the foundation stallion of Herd 49. Another 2/72 Hoodie Crow stood as a resident stallion at Herd 2 for many years. Of her 3 daughters only one of them has progeny alive today 2/61 Finnach who in turn had two registered foals 2/78 Matchlock, her daughter, went on to breed, she registered 7 foals. Thee of these went on to breed, one was a stallion named Inigo 2/99, the other two were fillies 59/3 Jos and 2/96 Fulani.​

59/3 Jos had two daughters – Craigsford Amber and Craigsford Bronze. Amber was a very successful pony in terms of the show ring. Her owners also knew how important this mare was and so she joined Herd 49 as a broodmare. She registered her first foal, a filly known as Coedywern Harebell in 2003 who went on to do lots of winning in the show ring including becoming Exford Show Supreme Champion. Sadly, Amber died carrying her second foal. Since the original article was written Harebell has continued her successful career in the show ring and as a brood mare having produced eight foals. Her second foal stallion Coedywern Nimrod has followed in his mother’s footsteps becoming 2016 Supreme Champion at the Exmoor Pony Society’s breed show at Exford and winning the Exmoor Pony of the Year Award as a 3 year old. She has also three daughters, all of which are in breeding homes and so the bloodline looks to becoming more secure

59/3 Jos had 2 stallion sons, one of which went to Canada and stands at stud there, the other Vinca Major belonged to Fiona Dickson and like other members of this bloodline had a lots of show ring success. One of her other sons had a write up in the EPS Spring Newsletter 2010 – 2/12 Uttershill, the endurance Exmoor extraordinaire!

Matchlock’s other daughter with surviving descendants is 2/96 Fulani who produced 5 registered foals, again only one of which has breeding offspring left 2/103 Aconite III. Aconite had 4 foals; 3 daughters and a son. The first daughter Woton Borage (a successful show winner) has 11 registered offspring, 8 of them are female including another Exmoor Pony of the Year winner, Coedywern Juniper, who has also represented the breed at HOYS under saddle. Juniper registered her first daughter in 2009. Borage’s other daughters are almost exclusively in breeding homes with people dedicated to the preservation of this particularly family.So despite being under represented, this bloodline is responsible for hard working trekking ponies, Exford champions, HOYS finalists, Canadian exports, Exmoor Pony of the Year winners, a successful endurance pony and many much loved family friends. Exmoor enthusiasts, producers and judges all appreciate members of this family and without doubt, disprove the saying “that family is rare because it’s no good’.
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59/3 Jos (Photo courtesy of Fiona Dickson)

Coedywern Nimrod (Photo courtesy of Peter Yates)

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