Exmoor ponies were introduced into the Knepp rewilding project from the wilds of Exmoor in 2003. They act as proxies for their ancestor the tarpan, the extinct European wild horse which once thrived in our landscape. Like the other large herbivores at Knepp, the impact of the ponies – their idiosyncratic behaviours, the particular ways they graze and browse and disturb the ground with their hooves – helps generate new habitat and creates opportunities for other creatures.

They are part of the mix that has established a dynamic and complex wood pasture system at Knepp which has proved rocket-fuel for biodiversity. Hardy, resilient and equipped with attributes that enable them to thrive in all elements, the Exmoors are astonishingly similar to the 17,000-year-old cave paintings of horses at Lascaux in France. Their complex herd structure and social relationships, and the beneficial influence they have for other grazing animals, provide fascinating new insights into the importance of equine species in land regeneration. 

This safari will begin with a hot drink, organic chocolate brownies, and a short presentation about the Knepp rewilding project and the use of horses in rewilding areas in the UK and across Europe. This will be followed by a 2.5 hour walking safari in search of one of Knepp’s two Exmoor herds, spending time both observing the ponies and looking for signs of their impact on the landscape.

This safari is led by horse specialist Rina Quinlan who has been guiding at Knepp for five years and helps manage our Exmoor pony herd. Rina also advises on large herbivore ecology, particularly of equids, at rewilding projects throughout the UK.

This is a walking safari, at a gentle pace, with frequent stops for discussion and wildlife watching. You will need a moderate level of fitness and be able to cope with walking on uneven ground.

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Unfortunately we cannot offer a refund or alternative date for your safari booking. We also cannot guarantee the great British weather, or that you will see your target species. Nature is unpredictable! However we’re confident you’ll enjoy your experience with us, come rain or shine, and there’s always plenty of wildlife to see. Our safaris are suitable only for children of 12 and over.