A happy tail as Exmoor ponies arrive at nature reserve

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Exmoor ponies will be the “mane attraction” at a wildlife reserve after a herd was drafted in as caretakers of its turf.

Ten wild horses - including one named Horace McHorseface - have arrived at Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve after a campaign raised £13,000 to fund the conservation and management project.

The Exmoor ponies at Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve.

The Exmoor ponies at Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve.

They will spend three months grazing on the land before moving to another of Durham Wildlife Trust’s locations to repeat the process.

The animals have been brought from Exmoor to manage its population and prevent inbreeding, with each of the geldings chosen with the help of the Moorland Mousie Trust.

Exmoors were picked because they are hardy and light on their hooves, protecting the ground.

Peter Stranney, of the DWT, said: “We’ll start to see their personalities coming out over the next few weeks as we get to know them.

It was lovely to see them coming off the trailer and to watch as they discovered their new home.

Peter Stranney

“The staff have been very excited about their arrival, there’s been a real buzz and we think we’ll see an increase in visitors.

“It was lovely to see them coming off the trailer and to watch as they discovered their new home.”

Supporters were able to name a pony in return for a £250 donation.

Horace McHorseface, named by 1st Great Lumley Beavers group, was inspired by the Boaty McBoatface name suggested for a polar research vessel.

The new arrivals are unloaded from a trailer.

The new arrivals are unloaded from a trailer.

He is joined by Nicola’s Boy, Dixon, Wally, Lopper, Luna, David, Robin, Mimi, Jonah, Barley and Spedan.

For a series of different amounts donors could get a reward.

The target for the purchase and transport plans was set at £9,200, but that was topped, helping to buy a trailer to take them from reserve to reserve, with a welfare fund now running.

Funders include The John Spedan Lewis Foundation, with £4,500, the Schroder Charity Trust, which gave £1,500, and trust members Robin and Sue Laycock, who donated £2,500.

One of the geldings takes a look around his home for the next three months.

One of the geldings takes a look around his home for the next three months.

Crowds gather to welcome the ponies.

Crowds gather to welcome the ponies.