The Exmoor pony, like the Dartmoor, should not exceed 13 hands at the shoulder, even if he reaches that height, a fact that is rather remarkable, for Exmoor is better supplied with nourishing keep than Dartmoor. There is also a sort of glamour of romance in connection with the Exmoor, as the stories of the mysterious Katerfelto - the dun stallion which appeared upon the scene, from where no one appears ever to have discovered - have been the thesis adopted by other writers besides the great Whyte Melville, and to the public the mysterious is nearly always attractive. Some sceptics asserted that there was never such an animal as Katerfelto; but they were wrong, for he was eventually secured, and while in captivity served several mares. Mr. G. S. Lowe, who investigated his history upon the spot, asserts that he was a dun horse with a black list down his back, and that his appearance was that of a blood-like cob. Suffice it to say, that Katerfelto was no myth, and that his mysterious appearance may probably be due to the fact that he had survived some shipwreck and made his way to Exmoor unnoticed, or, at all events, for a long time uncaptured by any of the inhabitants of the locality. The residents in the village of Exmoor can offer no information whatsoever concerning the origin of their ponies; all they appear to know is, that this breed has existed for a period far beyond living memory, and that the animals are most necessary to their comfort.
About the year 1820, Sir John Knight purchased some 20,000 acres of moorland, for the purpose mainly of raising ponies, and he afterwards added to his original purchase the part of the forest that belonged to Sir Thomas Acland, as well as the celebrated herd of ponies contained thereon. The original stock was subsequently crossed with the Nubian horse Dongola, the Arab, and the Thoroughbred; but he ultimately tired of pony-breeding and devoted his attention more to sheep - not, however, before the height of the Exmoor had been brought up to nearly 13 hands by the use of Thoroughbred blood.
In the year 1850, Sir Frederick Knight, who then owned Simonsbath, recommenced pony-breeding operations to a great extent, and produced some extraordinarily good-looking animals up to 13 hands, whilst several extremely beautiful specimens of Sir Thomas Acland's strain still survive. The latter have chiefly been bred by the late Sir Thomas Acland at Porloch, near Dulverton, to which place their ancestors were removed when Sir John Knight purchased Simonsbath. It is believed that shortly before his decease Sir Thomas Acland introduced some crosses, and so followed the example of Sir John Knight. If so his action is much to be regretted, as the truebred Exmoor pony had already become extremely rare, for no British pony has been a greater victim of fantastic crosses.
As regards his general appearance, the Exmoor perhaps shows more quality than the Dartmoor, his head being extremely clean and neat, his eyes full of spirit, whilst his limbs and middle piece are excellent, and they are not so frequently found cow-hocked as the Dartrnoors are. They are a most valuable cross for the purpose of producing the miniature Hunter style of pony, and anyone who purposes embarking in the pleasurable pursuit of pony-breeding should congratulate himself if he succeeds in getting possession of a few mares of the old blood, for they are sure to serve him well; but, as has been stated above, the majority of so-called Exmoors are simply mongrels.