Something brown was rolling and tossing among the green sedges. Then a long, agonized, writhing neck shot upwards and a dreadful cry echoed over the moor. It turned me cold with horror, but my companion's nerves seemed to be stronger than mine.
--Taken from The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle.
Some people are fortunate enough to befriend our equine cousins. They raise horses, groom them, ride them, and really get to know them. The rest of us, the vast majority of humankind, look on from afar, and wonder what such relationships are like. We find it all too easy to ascribe general characteristics to them.
We may stereotype donkeys and mules as irritable, disobedient, and general bad company. Even when they have our best interests at heart, as the Biblical prophet Balaam discovered when his donkey steered him away from an angel sent to kill him, still, they can't help but irritate their owners.
Horses radiate tremendous power, but can prove standoffish and skittish. No matter how much we respect them, we learn to give them the expect they deserve. For all that power can backfire on their human friends. In one moment of passion, playfulness, or inattention, a horse can main or kill its owner.
Less powerful than their larger, more regal cousins, ponies possess the disarming ability to always appear cute and cuddly. One's heart readily goes out to ponies. They're so sweet, good-natured, and adorable, aren't they? How terrible that they must wander alone across the moors!
What better way could Arthur Conan Doyle demonstrate the dangers of Dartmoor, than by the land itself claiming the life of one of those cute, adorable ponies?
For proof of this, visit Dartmoor Forest. Search for the wild ponies, and when you find them, you will most likely see people nearby. "Quick honey, grab the camera." "Oh, what a poor creature!" "I wonder if it needs something to eat?" "Oh, aren't you a beautiful little fellow?"
Just watch your step when you explore Dartmoor in search of ponies. Or, like the poor brown pony Dr John Watson saw, you may find the very ground beneath you desires nourishment. And other walkers may hear a dreadful cry echoing over the moor.