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Pony family enjoy life as lawnmowers
A GROUP of Dartmoor ponies have enjoyed making their home in North-East scrubland so much that they have started a family.
The ponies seemed to be enjoying their new life and last month two foals were born.
One is chestnut colt called Cayberry Paratrooper and the other a bay filly named Cayberry Red Beret.
At first it was hard to approach them because their mothers were so protective and the public were warned to keep their distance and keep dogs on a lead.
However, now the young ones, aged between four and six weeks, are starting to venture out on their own.
The ponies, one of which is a stallion, had been recruited to the North Gare area as conservation lawnmowers. They graze through the coarser grasses to help the more delicate wildflowers survive.
Orchids in particular benefit from the Dartmoor ponies’ work and pyramidal, northern marsh, common spotted and bee orchids have all been recorded at Teesmouth.
Natural England’s outreach advisor at the reserve, Jo Collins, said: “The ponies are a very welcome, hard-working addition to the team here at Teesmouth National Nature Reserve.
“They have munched through a lot of the long grass and we are looking forward to seeing the wildflowers bloom next year as a result.”
Mike Leakey, senior reserve manager, said sheep had been tried but one had been savaged by a dog.
Cattle were also used but, also unsettled by people and dogs, broke into a neighbouring golf course.
“The ponies are very placid and seem able to deal with the dogs well and they’re doing very useful work for us,” said Mr Leakey.
He added that the ponies will return to Dartmoor next month, when the area will become too wet for them.
The Natural England team knew the mothers were pregnant, but the foals were born with no human assistance.
It is hoped the ponies will return next year.