The Shilstone Rocks Stud, established in 1958, consistently breeds top class champion Dartmoor ponies. They have won Sire, Mare and Stallion of the year, inter breed ridden and in hand championships, and have qualified for Olympia and Horse of the Year (being highly placed in the finals of both these prestigious events). In fact, our ponies are winning all over the world, in hand and under saddle. We have always aimed at breeding a rugged native pony, but at the same time, with quality and substance. Temperament is one of the main considerations.
We have now reached the fifth generation from our original foundation mares Zippie and Jurston May Storm and still maintain the bloodlines from our original foundation stallions, Silver Dollar bred by Mann Bro’s and Easter bred by Mrs J Montgomery. The latter’s blood now runs without exception through all our home bred mares either through Shilstone Rocks Rainstorm or Shilstone Rocks Darkness and has had a great influence on the quality of our stock.
Three new pedigree female lines have during the last 15 years been introduced to the Stud; namely Park Barn Dance, Sherberton Cocktail and Cawsand Sunrise all of which have bred us some outstanding foals. In 1989 we felt that we should take the opportunity created by the opening of the Supplementary Register of introducing new blood lines to the Dartmoor Stud Book. Over the next 3 or 4 years we purchased some carefully selected mares off the moor, and all but one of these were bred by Mann Bro’s, of Widecombe-in-The-Moor, who had bred most of the renowned Bulteel foundation stock, eg Honeybags (grand dam of Shilstone Rocks Another Bunch) and other famous ponies including Fudge (foundation mare to the well known Boveycombe stud owned by the late Iris Gould).
Obviously breeding from new bloodlines one is occasionally going to breed a throw-back. However the first two fully registered fillies which we have bred from this scheme have both been placed in star shows, so we find that most encouraging. We have also bred the young stallion Shilstone Dunnabrook unbeaten in he class as a youngster and bred up from the Mann’s pony’s from Dunstone Farm. This is his first season at stud with us and we look forward to his foals next year.
Having bred Dartmoor ponies since 1958 we have a large selection of very uniform ponies, which are known as the ‘Shilstone Rocks type’ for their riding fronts good bone and movement. We are very aware that one does occasionally have to re-introduce fresh blood for the benefit of the breed, and we have carefully selected some rare outside bloodlines. This enables breeders who already have our stock to come back to us for suitable stallions to use on their mares. Generally we find that line breeding has the most successful results and so far have not found any lethal factors in our blood lines.
We keep our ponies under as natural conditions as possible. The brood mares spend all but the breeding season on the commons of Dartmoor.
At the beginning of our breeding program we did not breed from any animal with unsuitable temperament and our ponies are well known for their ‘laid back’ approach to life which sometimes has to be livened up a bit for competitions! However as a Dartmoor is principally a child’s pony; we prefer them to be safe children’s ponies who only have to be schooled and rarely broken. Our ponies are natural jumpers, and they do not get ‘fizzed up’. One Shilstone Rocks Dartmoor who was exported to France became a top jumping pony of that country. We have a stallion in France at the moment who is siring many top jumpers and has been recognized by the Arras and approved as a top sire of performance ponies for crossing with other breeds. War Lord is another natural jumper, as are his stock.