CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Devon Life today CLICK HERE

Exmoor Pony Centre gears up for a fun summer of events

PUBLISHED: 11:44 17 May 2016 | UPDATED: 11:58 17 May 2016

Katie McKenzie (QSR Head Girl), left, Apollo, Michael Woodcock & Miguel Catela (QSR Senior Instructor), April 2016

Katie McKenzie (QSR Head Girl), left, Apollo, Michael Woodcock & Miguel Catela (QSR Senior Instructor), April 2016

Tricia Gibson

The Exmoor Pony Centre is gearing up for a summer of celebratory events to mark its 10th birthday and raise much-needed funds to continue protecting and promoting the native rare breed for another decade, as Sharon Goble explains

Headshot of ApolloHeadshot of Apollo

This year is a big one for the Exmoor Pony Centre and the charity which runs it, the Moorland Mousie Trust. It’s lined up a calendar of special events in June, July and August, which it hopes horsey and non-horsey folk from across Devon will support.

Taking a starring role in one of these events is one of the centre’s most ardent supporters: retired solicitor Michael Woodcock. Rather courageously for a man who turns 73 next month, Michael is learning to jump, with the aim of competing at the Dunster Country Fair on Wednesday 27 July to raise money to support the centre’s work. He’s pursuing his goal with such dedication that he re-located to the South West from London in the spring to work with a top international instructor here.

Michael’s challenge is all the more remarkable because he only learnt to ride four years ago and Apollo, the inexperienced Exmoor pony he’s been matched up with, had never been ridden before last October. Michael says: “I knew it would be hard but not this hard. Believe me, learning to jump on a strong young novice pony is physically very demanding - a real struggle at my age!”

Until recently, Apollo had been doing his bit for the environment “conservation grazing” with other Moorland Mousie Trust ponies in Northumberland. Pensioner and pony met for the first time in February. The unlikely pair took up residence at the elite QSR Equestrian Centre in mid April to bond and begin four months of intensive training together.

Michael reflects: “I was told I could call myself a rider when I’d fallen off 20 times. Since starting to jump at QSR, I can tell you, I am fully qualified to call myself one. There are no easy shortcuts to learning to jump. You just have to get back on and try again...and again.”

Michael has also had to get to grips with technology and become social media savvy to help promote his big adventure: “I’ve invested in a tablet so that I can post regular updates - tweeting and blogging are all new to me. I hope people will follow me on Facebook and @ExmoorApollo. It’s all about raising the profile of this wonderful native rare breed as well as raising money.”

Michael’s endeavours have won the backing of Devon horse trainer, free rider and TV presenter, Emma Massingale, from Holsworthy. Unlike Michael, Emma started riding at a young age, leaving school at fifteen to pursue her childhood dream of working with horses. Emma has pledged to support Michael and the Exmoor Pony centre team at the Dunster Country Fair.

Another special guest, Exmoor Pony Barney, will also be enjoying the fun of the Fair. Barney was one of the first foals to be taken in and re-homed by the Exmoor Pony Centre. To celebrate his tenth birthday this summer, he’ll enjoy not one but two birthday parties - much like the Queen!

Join in the celebrations!

Thursday 2 June, 12 - 3pm: Spring Activity Afternoon at the Exmoor Pony Centre

Sunday 24 July, 11am - 3pm: Barney’s Birthday Bash Activity Day at the Exmoor Pony Centre

Wednesday 27 July: Michael’s jump in the Exmoor Pony Society’s ring and Barney’s 10th Birthday Party in the Village Green area, Dunster Country Fair - with special guest, Devon horsewoman and TV presenter Emma Massingale

Every Thursday in August, 12 - 3pm: Activity Afternoons at the Exmoor Pony Centre.

More from People

Friday, December 7, 2018

Devon Life received this heartfelt letter from Mr Michael Thompson, of Torbay, which is felt particularly poignant to share with our website audience at this time of year

Read more
Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Bursting with festive inspiration, KATE WILLIAMS seeks out the best presents for a perfect Devon Christmas

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Devon has had more than its fair share of high achievers over the years but how well do you know our county’s singers, authors, sportspeople, explorers and TV personalities? This is an edited version of a quiz compiled by MARGARET BRECKNELL in the December 2018 issue of Devon Life

Read more
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

PHILIP DALLING recalls two Exmoor legends who shared a deep love of the moor and its natural resources, and gained national fame through the media

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

In the month when we mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, STEVE ROBERTS highlights the terrible cost in human lives it inflicted on the county of Devon

Read more
Friday, November 16, 2018

Actor Tom Burke talks to JUDI SPIERS about his production of Don Carlos staged by his own theatre company Ara, in association with Exeter’s Northcott Theatre

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

In the latest in her series throughout 2018 profiling inspirational women, KATE HASKELL talks to England Women’s Cricket Captain, Heather Knight

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

There is more to Georgia Toffolo than an award-winning TV show, as HOLLY EELLS discovers

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

Striving to be the best in the world, homegrown Devon professional squash player Lyell Fuller is seeking sponsorship to help reach his goal. KATE WILLAMS finds out more

Read more
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Tavistock Rugby Club in Devon is celebrating after being awarded a grant of £2,500 to fund private showers for referees at their Sandy Park ground, as part of rural energy provider Calor’s annual funding scheme

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Devon’s Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, also known as The Black Farmer, tells KATE WILLIAMS about his new book, Jeopardy, encouraging the embracing of risk to enrich life

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

As five members of Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton celebrate 125 years of collective volunteering, we look back on their time with the organisation

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

CAROLYN SEAGER reveals how long after her mother’s death she discovered her amazing career in the service of her country

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

An author known for her novels depicting life on the Channel Islands is nonetheless happiest writing from home here in Devon

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search