In 1990, Joseph Palmer wrote and published the book, The Dartmoor Pony - A History of the Breed. The book was
commissioned by the Dartmoor Pony Society in the UK. Wonderfully written, he sums up the origin of the Dartmoor. Below is an excerpt from the book's preface.
The Dartmoor Pony and Its Origins
This is the story the Dartmoor pony; of its origins, known or surmised; its evolution; what it is today; with, perhaps, some tentative forecast of its prospects; the story of a tough, intelligent, species but large of heart, for many
centuries the servant, companion and friend of Man.
The Dartmoor, like all other true moorland stock, is the product of an exceptionally tough environment, thus offering a striking demonstration of the
force of one of Nature’s inexorable laws; that the inhabitant must adapt to its habitat; with the outside help if it is lucky (for exceptionally skillful, as in the case of Man), otherwise without. It adapts and survives. Or it goes under.
The Dartmoor pony has not gone under. Far from it. Nor, in general, has it received all that much help from Man. When things are really rough on the moor,
it might be brought in or given a little extra to eat, but usually it fends for itself, just as it always has done; a bona fide moorland pony, out in all weathers and the year round; not just surviving but thriving in any but the bleakest conditions.
In all those centuries the moor has been, as it were, at work on the pony; moulding its sturdy, independent character, building up its physique, even
determining its size. In addition to this process of natural selection must be considered the other aspect of heredity, man-sponsored selective breeding. The
results of the latter are more quickly apparent, but it has been the slow, unrelenting, long-term pressure, and influence of its surroundings that have
made the Dartmoor pony what it is. It is fitting, therefore, that its story should start with a brief survey of this upland from which it has acquired a great deal
more than simply a name.