WW2, funding tensions and mountain treks: A conversation with PonySoc

Feed the pony


Fancy getting back to nature but hate walking? This society is for you.

The Edinburgh University Exmoor Pony Trekking Society was founded in 1952 in order to replenish the depleted numbers of Exmoor ponies following the Second World War.

Numbers had fallen because soldiers used the ponies, which stand at 13 hands or four feet, for target practice or they were eaten by locals.

63 years later the society remains but not to encourage breeding.

Instead, the society organises pony treks in the Pentlands.

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President Emily Gould explained: “After Word War Two, there was a big effort from a few individuals to get numbers back up. Now the numbers are up a bit, we’ve stopped breeding.”

Roughly half of the society’s members are vets whereas the other half study a variety of other subjects. This can cause a bit of friction with other vet school societies.

Emily said: “We get some of our funding from the vet school and all the vet school socities get that. We need quite a lot of money so ask for it and it sometimes upsets the other societies who have a higher proportion of vet students.”

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Ordinary members of the society are expected to go to see the ponies and help out at least twice a semester and those who want to be more involved can be trained as trek leaders to take customers out.

Training happens on a Wednesday with treks happening on a Saturday and a Sunday.

It is this get-stuck-in aspect to the society that attracts many members.

Third year Amelia Judge said: “I’ve always enjoyed horse riding and there was a unique opportunity to really be part of a trekking society rather than just turning up for rides with the Equestrian club.”

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Although it is clear that both girls love being part of the society, they both made it clear that the trekking wasn’t their main aim.

Emily explained: “We use the money we earn from the treks to care for the ponies to do the treks to care for the ponies etcetera. It’s like a mini business.’

Amelia added: “Pony welfare is definitely the main thing.”

After managing to fundraise for a new tack shed last year, the society is trying to win £5000 for new saddles for the ponies through Linklaters’ ‘Pitch Your Ambition’ contest, details of which are available here.

It is clear that this society is the best of both worlds – getting to be involved with something you’re passionate about as well as helping a genuinely good cause.

If you’re stressing about your tutorial work or a 3000 word essay, maybe a wee pony trek will sort you out.