Census to gather picture of critically endangered breed

Newfoundland ponies Wonder and Skipper.
Newfoundland ponies Wonder and Skipper. © Elisha Massong/Newfoundland Pony Society

The Newfoundland Pony Society has announced a census to determine the number and location of Newfoundland ponies in the Canadian province.

The census, which includes an effort gather history about the critically endangered breed, will take place until March 29.

It is being conducted in partnership with the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador (HFNL).

The Newfoundland Pony is listed as critically endangered by Rare Breeds Canada.

It is believed that there are fewer than 400 Newfoundland ponies in North America, with only 250 of these ponies able to be bred.

“We are collecting information on the number of Newfoundland ponies living in Newfoundland and Labrador so an accurate picture of their population can be determined,” said Jack Harris, a member of Parliament and a board member of the Newfoundland Pony Society.

“The hard-working Newfoundland pony was an integral part of Newfoundlanders’ survival. We need to work together to protect one of our greatest and unique natural assets to ensure that the Newfoundland Pony has a place in our future.”

Conducting the census research for the society is Joelle Carey, a Masters in Folklore student from Memorial University.

The cultural heritage development officer with the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, Dale Jarvis, said: “We are pleased to partner with the Newfoundland Pony Society on this project because the stories, knowledge and history associated with Newfoundland Ponies are just as important to preserve as the breed itself.”

In the early 1970s, the Newfoundland pony population was about 12,000.

By the late 1980s, it had declined to only 100 animals.

Several factors contributed to the rapid decimation of the pony population. Modern machinery replaced the pony in many jobs.

Municipalities enacted laws limiting the keeping of livestock and availability of pastures. The greatest factor was the sale of the ponies to livestock dealers on the mainland for the meat trade in Europe.

The Newfoundland Pony is an all-purpose pony and has many desirable characteristics, including strength, courage, intelligence, obedience, willingness, and common sense. Newfoundland ponies are hard workers and easy keepers.

Physical characteristics include:

  • A good winter animal, being all around hardy
  • A structure that can vary from fine-boned types to larger stocky types
  • Height that can vary from 11.0 to 14.2 hands
  • Coat colour can be black, brown, chestnut, bay, dun, grey, roan and white (pink skin)
  • Coat is heavy and sometimes changes colour and character seasonally
  • A thick mane and tail – usually black
  • A low-set mane and tail
  • A short, broad head with small ears
  • Flinty, hard hooves

The Newfoundland Pony Society was founded in 1979 and was incorporated in 1981 as a registered charity.

In 1994, a resolution was brought to the floor of the House of Assembly by Harris that laid the groundwork for the protection of the pony. The society is designated as the organization responsible for the preservation and protection of this animal.


Residents of the province who own a Newfoundland pony or who have information about the pony that they would like to share should contact Joelle Carey at 1.888.739.1892, Extension 5. Her email is joelle@heritagefoundation.ca.

More information: www.newfoundlandpony.com.


One thought on “Census to gather picture of critically endangered breed

  • November 30, 2014 at 5:25 am

    I sincerely hope the project is sucessful, Joelle. In Ireland, the Kerry Bog Pony was all but lost, so getting a gene pool up and running is something I can understand.


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