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Monday, January 4, 2016

Arthur Conan Doyle: Fatal Attraction

"It's gone!" said he. "The Mire has him. Two in two days, and many more, perhaps, for they get in the way of going there in the dry weather, and never know the difference until the Mire has them it its clutch."
--The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

Like Dr John Watson, we had our own encounter with the wild ponies of Dartmoor. Thankfully, it ended safely for all concerned. But it could have ended far more tragically.

As we drove along the narrow strips of tarmac that wound like ribbons through Dartmoor forest, we often saw ponies along the road. Usually, they ignored us as we slowed, steered around them, and continued on our way. But once they looked up, forsook their grass, and wandered over to meet us.

While one walked boldly toward us, another approached us from the side. The latter peered in through the window, as if he wished to converse with us.

When I shared our encounter with a local, she said that the greatest danger the ponies faced was human visitors. The wild ponies get used to the human visitors feeding them. Their visitors' kindness emboldens them with the expectation of more handouts. 

Unfortunately, sometimes the ponies wander onto the road before a passing car can stop. Some of the ponies we saw bore scars from their encounters with vehicles. Thankfully, we never saw results of this human/pony fatal attraction during our time there. 

I gather an initiative is underway to daub the ponies with reflective paint, after dozens of vehicle-related deaths this year. Hopefully, this will help the situation, particularly for visitors driving through Dartmoor at night. For, like Dr John Watson, no one wants to hear the mournful cry of a dying pony, echoing across the moors.

Dragon Dave

Related Internet Links
Dartmoor Ponies Daubed With Paint

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