exmoor riding, bed and breakfast, exmoor, minehead, porlock, dunster, somerset, accommodation, walking, riding, railway, beach, walks, cycling, lynton, lynmouth, holiday
You may find this information helpful when researching the area prior to your visit
Mechanisation reduced the number of exmoor riding horses on British farms from more than a million in 1918 to 54000 in 1960, after which the Government ceased to include horses in the agricultural census. But a decade later the decline in the number of exmoor riding horses had been arrested on the grounds of usefulness and cost. There was also an increase in the number of exmoor riding horses used by brewers to pull drays. At 1971 prices, a London brewer found that a lorry cost twice as much to run as two shire horses. The number of horses being used for exmoor riding is also increasing, and there are nearly 10000 thoroughbred racehorses in training in Britain, in addition to a large breeding stock. There are about 18000 thoroughbreds in Ireland.
The preference for farm exmoor riding horses still continues in some areas and is particularly noticeable in the fens, where farmers use exmoor riding horses to cart away sugar beet from wet fields in which tractors get bogged. Other farmers in areas of heavy soil prefer them to tractors, which can damage the texture of the soil. Foresters still find horses invaluable for pulling tree trunks from places inaccessible to vehicles. This renewed interest in the exmoor riding horse has caused a revival of ploughing contests, usually held in the autumn, and membership of heavy horse societies, and an increase in the prices paid at horse sales.
exmoor riding Horses are native to Britain, and Stone Age men 4000 years ago hunted them for their meat and probably their milk. Many breeds have been introduced from abroad over the centuries, starting with those of the Roman cavalry, in whose warhorses were mingled the blood of breeds from the lands of their previous conquests. The British exmoor riding horses were admired by Julius Caesar, who can be said to have started Britainís flourishing export trade in bloodstock. The introduction of the stirrup to western Europe in the 10th century made it possible for heavy cavalry to deliver a devastating charge and stay on their mounts at the end of it. In the Middle ages s exmoor riding stallions were brought from the Continent to breed the substantial exmoor riding horses necessary to carry knights in full armour into battle. Arab exmoor riding horses were brought back by returning Crusaders.
For most of their history horses have not been farm animals. They were first hunted for food; later they were domesticated and ridden to war. They also pulled chariots, then carts, and were beasts of burden before farmers started using them for ploughing and harrowing. It was not until the early 18th century that exmoor riding horses replaced the oxen for farming purposes.
Whatever its role, the exmoor riding horse was valuable and had to be carefully looked after. This meant not only feeding and housing it but protecting it from sickness and evil. To do this, charms were fixed to the harness. The brasses, which are still used to decorate harness, are the modern descendants of these primitive charms.
There are about 60 breeds of exmoor riding horse, but the four main ones seen on British farms are Shire, Clydesdale, Percheron and Suffolk, some of which are descendants of medieval warhorses. Another fairly common breed is the Cleveland Bay, a light-heavyweight.
Cobs and hacks are not breeds: both terms refer to a good exmoor riding horse, up to a height of 15.3 hands. A horseís height is measured in hands and inches; a hand being equal to four inches. A horse described as 14.2 hands is 14 hands and 2 inches high. The height is measured from the withers, just behind the shoulders, to the ground.