Monsieur Chapeau is a Purebred Exmoor pony who was born wild and free on the Dunkery Commons of Exmoor National Park.
His story is told in best-selling Wild Pony Whispering, written by his owner Dawn Westcott, which promotes the plight of the endangered Exmoor pony breed, and encourages kind and understanding methods of handling these incredibly intelligent native ponies.
Monsieur Chapeau was born (according to the vet through examining his teeth and eyes) in autumn of 2013. When we rescued him in January 2014, he had somehow been separated from his mother and he was hiding in a steep coombe, where he had become severely malnourished and was suffering with pneumonia, during a period of relentless wet and cold weather.
Monsieur Chapeau made a brilliant recovery and is now living within a large herd of Exmoor ponies where he has made a special role for himself supervising and helping other young Exmoor ponies in our Exmoor Pony Project
DNA genomic testing in the USA has confirmed that Monsieur Chapeauis a Purebred Exmoor pony. And DNA parentage testing indicates that the registered Exmoor stallion, Tawbitts Lanzulot, is his father. However, the breed society's DNA database has failed to reveal his mother's identity. So Monsieur Chapeau cannot be registered as an Exmoor pony in the Exmoor Pony Stud Book. He has, however, passed the breed society physical inspection and he does meet the breed standard for an Exmoor pony. But under the current system, he receives no recognition for this, and cannot be shown in any Exmoor pony breed showing classes run by the breed society - or within affiliated Mountain & Moorland showing classes.
In short, despite being a beautiful quality Exmoor pony, he is 'invisible' in terms of official recognition. He has no status within the recognised Exmoor pony breed.
The Heritage Exmoor Pony Register
has been established by the Moorland Exmoor Pony Breeders Group,to recognise and list Exmoor ponies such as Monsieur Chapeau. The MEPBG has established some showing classes which welcome all Exmoor ponies - pedigree and purebred - including Monsieur Chapeau.
In 2014, 2015 and 2016, Monsieur Chapeau stood Reserve Supreme Champion of the MEPBG/AH Saddles Exmoor Pony Championship Final at the MEPBG Exmoor Pony Show. In 2014 he stood Reserve Non-Pedigree Exmoor Pony Champion and in 2015 and 2016 he stood Champion Non-Pedigree Exmoor Pony, and Reserve Moorbred Champion.
Work is continuing to improve the registration system to enable purebred ponies to be embraced within the breed and receive their due recognition.
In the meantime, Monsieur Chapeauis a much-loved and treasured ambassador for Exmoor ponies born wild and free on the moor. He meets and greets visitors with enthusiasm.
He and his special friend, Farleywater Lady Stumpkin Pumpkin, made a trip to London late last year, to appear on ITV This Morning
where they met Holly Willoughbyand Philip Schofield. They, of course, took it all in their stride and behaved impeccably. Once again - Monsieur Chapeau was a wonderful ambassador for the breed.