5 Facts About The New Forest Ponies
We are very lucky here at Centaur HQ to be situated within the New Forest, well the parliament constituency classes it as New Forest East!
Being so close to the National Park certainly has its perks. It is home to thousands of locals that you couldn’t miss if you tried. They have all the knowledge you would ever need to know about the forest. The downside being you’d have to be Dr Dolittle to get a translation.
We are, of course, talking about the New Forest Ponies. We probably should mention the deer, donkeys, cows, sheep and occasionally pigs too!
The sight of free roaming horses as you drive through the National Park is truly amazing. It’s an unrivalled sight, as you are unlikely to see it anywhere else in the UK.
Here are 5 facts you might not have known!
- Who looks after them?
- When can you see the foals?
- Eco system Superstars!
- Don’t feed the ponies!
- They own the road!
Who looks after them?
Despite being free to roam throughout the forest the horses are looked after. The New Forest Commoners own and care for all the ponies. It is the responsibility of the commoners to see that their ponies are healthy and well looked after.
Verderers, who ensure the commoners adhere to the laws attached to the New Forest, employ 5 Agisters to manage the free roaming animals. They also collect the “marking fee” from the commoners, clipping the tail of the pony as proof of payment.
When can you see a foal?
One of the greatest sights to see is that of a new born foal and their mother. New Forest foals are born in the Spring and Summer months. The Stallions are turned out in May & June to ensure the magical experience brings the forest to life the same time every year.
Eco system superstars
Ok, so this is not solely down to the ponies. The grazing from the ponies and cattle supports the growth of rare plant species. Therefore, encouraging the species that live off their growth to thrive in the New Forest too.
The Southern Damselfly thrives and has even been known to lay its eggs in water filled prints left by the ponies and cattle.
Don’t feed the ponies
Although the ponies look friendly and approachable, they can also kick and bite if you get too close.
Unknown to many, there is a bylaw which bans the feeding of the ponies and cattle. So by feeding them you could end up with a criminal record and a £200 fine!
They own the road!
The Ponies, and other animals mentioned earlier, are special enough to have complete right of way on all the roads. There is a maximum speed limit of 40 miles an hour on unfenced roads.
It is also advised that you carry an animal emergency hotline card when travelling through the area. You are then prepared with the appropriate number should the worst happen.
It is always worth remembering that it has been recorded by a riders GPS that a spooked horse travelled at 54 MPH. That would cause a significant amount of damage to all involved.
For helpful hints on how you should approach horses, whether with riders or roaming free, please click here.