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The Pony Fair

Having recently written a couple of pages on various Dartmoor pony fairs I then came across the following poem. Basically it describes the gathering of the ponies from the moor and imagines what emotions the creatures must have felt having been torn away from their pastures and the fate which awaits them. Thankfully today they will not be consigned to work down some dark and dank coal pit where all semblance of daylight is denied them. Nor in most cases being consigned to the shafts of a cart or laden down with pack saddles although, having said that there is always the risk of ending up on someones dinner plate.

The Pony Fair.

Galloping, galloping, over the moor,
When the mists lie gold on the purple tor.
With straining muscles and foaming jaw,
The Dartmoor Ponies come.

Thundering down at the break of day,
To the stream where the waters dance and play.
Roan and copper and dappled grey,
The Dartmoor ponies come.

But the stallion pauses in swift surprise,
Then circles the foals and their saucer eyes.
Above them the buzzard-hawk wheels and cries,
Oh, the Dartmoor ponies come.

Steadily borne on the breezes clear
The beat of horses  and men draws near.
With quivering flanks and eyes wild with fear,
The  Dartmoor ponies come.

Up through the bracken shoulder high,
Up to the borderline of the sky.
Whilst that human cordon draws ever neigh,
The Dartmoor ponies come.


“Hurry now, can’t yer, yon ain’t a moke,”
The dogs all join in the annual joke.
With whoop and holler and friendly poke,
The Dartmoor ponies come.

Clattering down the village street,
Fringed with campion and meadow-sweet.
In through the field gates, white and neat,
The Dartmoor ponies come.

There men are waiting, cold-eyed and bold,
Those struggling shuddering manes to hold.
For ponies are worth their weight in gold,
Oh,the Dartmoor ponies come.

And now only darkness about you lies,
And hope in your gallant hearts ebbs and dies.
Whilst lonely, the buzzard-hawk wheels and cries,
Oh, the Dartmoor ponies come.

Eleanor  G. Sayers, Chagford.
The Western Times, 25th October 1946.

About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

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