Author(s): Westcott, Dawn,
Date of Publication: 22/09/2015,
Pagination: 144 pages, profusely illustrated in colour,
Published By: Halsgrove,
Book Classification: Devon, Somerset, Horses & ponies
This is the real-life story of Monsieur Chapeau, a wild, orphaned Exmoor pony foal found severely malnourished with pneumonia on the moors of Exmoor and how he survived and thrived beyond all expectations – bringing with him the secrets of how to create a bond of trust and friendship with the wild Exmoor ponies.
Dawn Westcott, the author, and her husband Nick, run the Moorland Exmoor Foal Project. Their struggle to get Monsieur Chapeau recognised and registered as a true Moorland Exmoor highlights the plight of the free-living ponies of Exmoor National Park that threatens their very existence.
This book follows Monsieur Chapeau and other foals like him and the quest to safeguard the future of this endangered ancient native breed. Horse whispering becomes pony whispering as a wild Exmoor pony connects with man to secure his survival – with the character, wisdom and generosity of heart to inspire better understanding of the equine mind.
This story will appeal to those with a love of Exmoor and its flora and fauna and also provides an invaluable practical guide for people interested in ‘connecting’ with horses through trust-based liberty handling and socialisation – from the perspective of the enigmatic Exmoor ponies.
Now Monsieur Chapeau reaches out from the moor and shows that there is more that must be done to ensure the successful preservation of the wild Exmoor ponies – and improve their welfare, wellbeing and opportunities – and the way they are handled and trained, in this superbly presented and richly illustrated book.
Dawn Westcott and her husband Nick are founder members of the Moorland Exmoor Pony Breeders Group (MEPBG), run the Exmoor Pony Club, Moorland Exmoor Foal Project and the Holtball Exmoor Pony Stud (Herd 11). The Westcott family has lived and farmed on Exmoor for over 500 years. Nick’s great grandfather was a founding committee member of the Exmoor Pony Society in 1921, and he and his two brothers established the original Exmoor pony herds 10, 11 and 21. Nick’s cousin, Malcolm Westcott, has Herd 4. After a career in glossy magazine publishing in London, Dawn (née Williams) moved to the Westcountry and in 2008 married Nick Westcott; together they re-established Herd 11.
Nick and Dawn are committed to the preservation of the Exmoor ponies of Exmoor National Park and encourage the use of positive, trust-based handling and training of the ponies which endeavours to understand the language of the horse. Dawn is twice International Horse Agility world champion with stallion Hawkwell Versuvius ‘Bear’, who is ridden as well as standing at stud at Holtball. It was through working to build trust with their Exmoor ponies that Nick and Dawn realised that welfare and treatment of the free-living Exmoor ponies could be improved immeasurably.