Exmoor Pony Society virtual spring show goes global!

While the COVID-19 pandemic may have stopped most public gatherings, it hasn’t stopped Exmoor Pony Society (EPS) from bringing hundreds of ponies and their owners together online. The society’s first Spring Show attracted more than 200 entries – including international entrants – by going ‘virtual’ on 15th June.

EPS serves as the formal guardian of the Exmoor pony breed, and maintains the official studbook for the breed which is classed as ‘endangered’ by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. With plans for the physical Spring show thwarted, EPS was inspired to make it happen online. The Exmoor Pony Festival in August has already been cancelled, and the much anticipated annual breed show in August is also under discussion, and the idea was to bring some much needed morale to pony enthusiasts.

Show Secretary and EPS trustee Jenna Payne developed the concept and made it a reality with the help of the Showing Scene website and some dedicated Exmoor pony enthusiasts who sponsored classes and championships. With 26 categories and the usual expectation of high standards of showing, she created a video to guide people on how to prepare their pony for entry – as well as getting the photography and video right for the judges.

Each entry required a video alongside two still photographs. These were posted onto YouTube and have each attracted hundreds of views. The entries were then reviewed by the highly experienced and qualified judging panel, and the results posted the EPS website.

Jenna Payne, says: “Showing of ponies is a very serious task, and we run our own and affiliated shows across the country. Lockdown has made this impossible, but making the show virtual provides similar kudos to the owners and breeders.

“Overall, this event has been a surprising hit with Exmoor pony enthusiasts. When I booked for my rosettes to be made, I’d predicted up to 30 entries, but once entries opened they just kept coming and coming! I was completely overwhelmed by how much support the event has received and it’s really humbling.

“To close on 217 entries just blew every expectation and I’m pretty confident that it’s the largest Exmoor pony show in history as well as the first international – having had two exhibitors from Sweden. We’ve even had a phone call from a chap in Washington DC asking how he can view the show. It’s been mind blowing really for a rare breed to have support such as this.”

The winners, videos and photos can be found via www.exmoorponysociety.org.uk and their Facebook page.



Photo: Exmoor Pony Society trustee Jenna Payne with two of her Exmoor ponies.