The New Forest Equine Forum was formed as an advisory panel to the New Forest National Park Authority. It consists of representatives of a wide range of equine interests from the New Forest, and although it meets in the NPA offices, it is completely independent from the NPA. In fact this is enshrined in its constitution –
• The New Forest Equine Forum is an independent body and membership is voluntary.
• While the New Forest Equine Forum appreciates the secretarial assistance and the provision of a venue, as offered by the New Forest National Park, this is only accepted on the basis that this support does not prejudice the Forum’s independence.
• Members of statutory bodies may be present at meetings, on the understanding that their roles are consultative and advisory.
• The New Forest Equine Forum will provide opportunities for the flow of views, information, recognition of issues, and suggestions and actions for resolution of issues. As Forum members encompass a wide range of equine expertise, when deemed necessary, it may also contribute in an advisory capacity to the New Forest National Park Authority, and others, providing a source of local expertise and advice. Forum members will, inevitably, continue to support those whom they represent.
The membership is drawn from a range of interests including the New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society, Commoners Defence Association, New Forest Equine businesses, British Horse Society, New Forest Pony Enthusiasts, a local Farrier, a local Veterinarian, two local horse owners and the New Forest Equestrian Association, as well as Forest Uprising Group and Natural England. Such a variety of equestrian knowledge and input inevitably leads to lively debate, but local horse and pony owners and associated businesses can be assured that their interests are represented and defended in a very open forum.
The initial purpose of the Forum was to engage with the NPA to revise the contentious issues raised by the first Draft Plan (2008). Fair and workable documents have now been achieved through the NPA Core Strategy (2010) and Guidelines for Horse Related Development Supplementary Planning Document (2011). The Guidelines help to explain some of the planning rules and provide guidance to those wishing to make a planning application.
The Forum continues to meet regularly in a consultative capacity to represent equestrian interests with a firm plan to make practical information for horse and pony owners and keepers readily available.