Posted 19th October by Peter Byrne
One of the must-do October half-term family activities will, without a doubt, be the release of My Little Pony: The Movie
This has inspired Premier Inn to recommend some of the UK's top locations where you can spot an incredible herd of real ponies in their natural habitat.
Shetland ponies are one of the most famous (and arguably the cutest) ponies you could spot in the wild. The tiny miniature ponies range in height from just 28 inches to 42 inches tall. Originating from the Shetland Islands, they are most prevalent on the island of Foula - a tiny strip of land which is just three and a half miles long. There are only 38 residents on the island, meaning there are more ponies here than people - this will be the perfect destination for pony fans. However, you need to time your trip carefully - there are only three ferries or four sea planes to this remote island each week. As they're wild ponies, it's best not to get too close, and instead to admire them from afar.
Carneddau Mountains, Snowdonia
Carneddau ponies have been grazing on the remote grasslands of Snowdonia for centuries. A protected breed due to their unique genetics, their numbers were tragically diminished following heavy snows in spring 2013. However, there are still around 200 ponies to spot in the area. This isn't the first time the ponies have faced hard times. Henry VIII once ordered all the Carneddau ponies to be destroyed as they were neither big or strong enough to carry armoured knights - however local farmers are protected. Now, their local grazing aids local conservation, helping to protect the beautiful area.
New Forest National Park, New Forest
The local ponies are synonymous with the New Forest Nature Reserve - in fact, these wild roaming creatures are the area's most famous attraction. There are around 3,000 ponies residing in the New Forest for thousands of years and, while they technically belong to the owners of the common land on which they roam, they are wild in the sense that they're allowed to wander freely around nearly 300km² of heathland and woods.
Robust ponies are good-natured, calm and friendly, but locals are asked not to feed them - despite being cute, they're still wild animals.
Dartmoor National Park, Devon
From tiny Shetland ponies to the endangered Dartmoor purebreds, you'll be able to spot a variety of types that graze together around Dartmoor's wooded valleys and granite tors. Over the years, they've helped to form the local landscapes, maintaining a variety of habitats and wildlife by keeping the moors in a good shape. If you feel inspired after spotting the area's ponies in the wild, head to Dartmoor's Miniature Pony Centre to stroke and cuddle them and their adorable foals. They also offer pony riding and entertainment activities for children.
Brecon Beacons, Wales
The beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales offers some of the most spectacular landscapes, covering over 500 square miles with woodlands, mountains, lakes and moorland. It's particularly in the Black Mountain area that you'll spot the wild roaming Welsh Mountain ponies. It's thanks to these hardy little creatures that there's such a range of rare flora in the area - grazing on other vegetation that allows beautiful flowers to flourish.
You'll be able to spot the semi-wild ponies and be able to ride them for yourself at a number of riding and trekking centres in the area - there's nothing quite like exploring the beautiful area on horse or pony-back.
Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire
The Wicken Fen Nature Reserve was once home to ponies centuries ago before their numbers dwindled, and they were reintroduced to the area in 2001 to help with conservation. The Konik breed is perfectly adapted to the wetland environment. And, on top of this, they help to keep vegetation low, encouraging a new species of flora and fauna to thrive here.
As England's oldest Nature Reserve, Wicken Fen is a fantastic spot for walking, cycling and even boat trips, allowing you to stay active as you keep an eye out for the charming four-legged creatures. Semi-feral, Konik ponies are quiet and placid, but generally don't like to be handled - therefore take pictures but don't pet them.
Exmoor National park, Devon and Somerset
Gorgeous Exmoor ponies have lived in free-roaming herds around moorland areas spreading between Somerset and Devon since the Ice Age. In this time, they've hardly changed at all. Around 13 herds currently wander around the National Park, and they're instantly recognisable due to their small, sturdy frame and brown colour, with lighter markings on the nose and tummy.
You can also visit the ponies at the Exmoor Pony Centre, where you can ride and even sponsor those that have been taken into care.
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