Horse breeds A-Z: Mountain & Moorland
Mountain and moorland or M&M ponies form a group of several breeds of ponies and small horses native to the British Isles. Many of these breeds are derived from semi-feral ponies kept on moorland or heathland, and some of them still live in this way, as well as being kept as fully domesticated horses for riding, driving and other draught work, or for horse showing.
Mountain and moorland classes at horse shows in the British Isles cover most of the breeds; however the four closely-related Welsh breeds often form their own classes.
Traditionally the modern mountain and moorland ponies have been regarded as including nine breeds (the four Welsh types being counted as one). However, in recent decades at least two further types have been recognised: the Eriskay and the Kerry bog pony. Larger native British Isles horses (such as the various large draught breeds) are not regarded as belonging to the mountain and moorland group.
Mountain and moorland ponies are generally stocky in build, with flowing mane and tail; the various types range from about 11 hands (1.12 m) to over 14 hands (1.42 m) – Shetlands are smaller: 7 hands (0.71 m) to 11.2 hands (1.17 m). Some (such as the Exmoor) are uniform in colour and pattern, but others include a wide range of colours – however, only the Shetland can be skewbald or piebald. They are very hardy and are very “good doers” (“easy keepers”) – they need relatively little food to live on. If allowed to graze freely on lush forage this can make them prone to obesity and related health problems, including laminitis.