The New Forest you see today
is the result of hundreds of years of animals grazing
and browsing the rough heathland and woodland of an area
between Southampton and Bournemouth. This in turn has
produced a hardy, thrifty, surefooted pony which, when
broken in, is able to perform successfully in practically
all disciplines of the horse world. Because it has co-existed
with humans and their trappings for so many years the
New Forest Pony has an ideal temperament which makes it
easy to train. The height ranges from under 122 cm (12
hh) to a maximum 148 cm (14.2 hh) and all colours (subject
to scrutiny) except piebald, skewbald or blue-eyed cream
are permitted. Most (but not all) of the ponies on the
New Forest have long pedigrees and are registered with
the New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society.
THE PONIES: SOME QUESTIONS
AND THEIR ANSWERS
AREN'T THEY WILD?
All the ponies are owned
by New Forest Commoners. They are wild in the sense of
running free - some can be handled by their owners and
others have never been tamed.
HOW DO YOU FIND THEM?
Individual ponies usually
stay in the same area known as the 'haunt'. This area
would include water, shelter, shade and favoured grazing
HOW DO YOU KNOW ONE FROM
A combination of colour,
markings and overall 'presence' plus of course the owner's
brand, make each pony easily recognisable, particularly
to the practised eye.
WHY CAN'T WE FEED THEM?
Unfortunately, your innocent
throw-away apple core could eventually incite aggressive
behaviour as the ponies learn to demand food, especially
in car parks and camp sites. This in turn leads to the
unhappy situation where the owner, through no fault of
their own, has to remove and dispose of this alleged 'vicious'
WHAT HAPPENS TO THEM?
Many of the ponies spend
all their lives roaming freely and happily on the Forest
- a natural but at times rigorous life as long as they
are fortunate enough not to be killed on the roads by
often inattentive or inconsiderate drivers. Others (including
many weaned foals) are sold by their owners to be trained
(at the appropriate age) for a variety of equine skills
- from family companion to top competition winners.