Rugless where possible
Wherever possible, the ponies here live naturally, without rugs or clipping. Exmoor ponies have evolved to cope with harsh and challenging weather conditions and are extremely savvy about finding suitable shelter, from both cold and wet conditions, or flies and midges in the summer.
They grow an incredible double-layered winter coat that somehow manages to keep them mostly warm and dry underneath. Allowing their coats to grow and shed, as nature intended, is an important part of their care and management.
There are times when some ponies appreciate a rug - particularly those that suffer from a degree of skin sensitivity to midges in the summer. Requiring the ponies to live off the moors, means that they are no longer able to migrate as necessary to more breezy upland areas in the summer - and therefore have to deal with the midges and flies in lowland paddocks. While some ponies cope brilliantly, others can drive themselves - and their owners - mad with itching. Recognising skin sensitive ponies and providing a fly rug in the spring and summer months can give them great comfort.
Most Exmoor ponies will deal effectively with midges and flies by rolling in dust, mud and taking shelter where necessary.
Other times a rug may be necessary is if showing/performance ponies are getting their manes and tails chewed by over-zealous grooming partners, or they are required to be in tip-top condition at all times. It is not uncommon, though, for us to take an unrugged pony out of the field early in the morning and drive to a show to win a championship that day. There is nothing quite like the genuine shine on a healthy, happy pony allowed to live naturally - after a good groom!