Ponies have been part of Dartmoor for thousands of years and therefore it is not surprising that the ghosts of one or two still haunt the moor. There have been sightings of ghostly black ponies that appear and vanish all over the tors and valleys. But probably the most persistent offender is the phantom pony that stalks the area around Haytor. Rather appropriately its favourite spot is Saddle Tor where numerous people have witnessed its presence. This particular phantom seems to have a evil sense of humour which is displayed in the nature of its manifestations.
It could well be that you are out walking around Saddle Tor when in the far distance the sound of galloping hooves is heard. Very slowly the noise gets nearer and louder as the hoof beats drum across the moor. It doesn’t take long to realise that something is heading straight in your direction. At this point people usually plod on in the knowledge that this is nothing unusual as there are always ponies galloping across the moor, usually it’s the stallions chasing of rivals. Rather unnervingly the thudding hooves get closer and closer which is then when the disconcerting thought that about 300kg of pony is about to trample you to death. On turning around nothing is visible but still the sound of hoof beats continues to head in your direction, the tussocks begin to shake and the long grasses bend in some invisible slip-stream. It is impossible to flee from something that can’t be seen and the panic sets in as you try to decide in which direction safety lies. By now the phantom pony is almost on top of you and every muscle in your body contracts as unconsciously you brace yourself for the impending impact. Suddenly you feel a blast of icy wind as some unseen being charges past and then complete and utter silence, the sound of the ghostly hoofs has vanished and all around is stillness. There is no point in frantically scanning the horizon as there is and never will be anything to be seen. The black peaty soil will reveal no trace of equine hoof prints and even the sheep grazing nearby will show no signs of alarm. The skylarks will still happily flutter in mid air chirping their ceaseless song. Quite simply there will be no rhyme or reason to the encounter except for the chilling fact that you have just met the phantom pony of Saddle Tor.