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Friday, 4 October, 2002, 18:19 GMT 19:19 UK
Ponies no longer 'four for 1'
Dartmoor pony at auction
Almost all the 140 ponies were sold on Friday
For the first time in the tradition of the annual auction of Dartmoor ponies a minimum price has been put on the animals.

Each pony now has a minimum price of eight guineas (8.40).

In previous years, the ponies were sold four for a guinea (1.05).

The minimum price has been set to try to revive the market, and to stop impulse buyers who later struggle to look after the animals.


We're looking forward to next year's sale more than we were to this year's sale

Chris Clapham, auctioneer
Almost all of the 140 ponies brought to auction at the first day of the sales in Tavistock on Friday were sold.

Auctioneer Russell Woolcock said: "This is one of the best we've had for many a year. Prices are good, the minimum figure has certainly helped."

Previously after sales, ponies were found abandoned across the county in places such as Plymouth's Chelson Meadow rubbish dump.

RSPCA officer Steve Donohue said: "They've all been sold in excess of eight guineas.

"It does show that people are going to assume some degree of responsibility if they are paying more than four for 1."

'Cutting losses'

The extra income is good news for farmers who had warned they would stop keeping the ponies unless prices rose.

Dartmoor farmer Neil Cole said: "It does give us enough to keep them in good nick.

"There's still not enough money to make it profitable, but we're cutting our losses a bit."

Auctioneer Chris Clapham said: "We were very surprised, but the farmers have gone away happy, which means we're happy.

"The ponies have made good money, not as good as a few years ago, but much better than last year.

"We're looking forward to next year's sale more than we were to this year's sale."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's John Kay
"Animal welfare teams are warning people of the long-term cost and commitment"

Click here to go to Devon
See also:

01 Oct 02 | England
24 Jul 02 | England
22 Oct 01 | England
09 Oct 01 | England
06 Sep 01 | UK
29 Aug 01 | UK
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