New Forest Ponies

Ponies casually grazing by the parking lot in Burley

My good friend Lauren visited me a week or so ago, all the way from Canada.  So whilst she was here, I decided to show her some of the special sites around the Bournemouth area.  My friend Simon came along one day to give us a bit of a tour of the New Forest which has been his home since he was 11.

Simon and Lauren look on

One of the neat things about the New Forest are the number of New Forest ponies that roam free.  The New Forest pony is one of the recognised mountain and moorland or native pony breeds of the British Isles. Height varies from around 12 hands to 14.2 hands; ponies of all heights should be strong, workmanlike, and of a good riding type.  They are valued for hardiness, strength, and sure-footedness.

Mums and babes

The breed is indigenous to the New Forest in Hampshire in southern England, where equines have lived since before the last Ice Age; remains dating back to 500,000 BC have been found within 50 miles (80 km) of the heart of the modern New Forest. All ponies grazing on the New Forest are owned by New Forest commoners – people who have “rights of common of pasture” over the Forest lands. An annual marking fee is paid for each animal turned out to graze. The population of ponies on the Forest has fluctuated in response to varying demand for young stock. Numbers fell to fewer than six hundred in 1945, but have since risen steadily, and thousands now run loose in semi-feral conditions.

They are so cute and even cuter as they chased each other around

What people don’t realise when you are visiting the area, as ponies roam through the villages, that they are essentially wild horses.  Whilst we were observing a couple grazing near the parking lot in Burley, some tourists walked up to them thinking they could pet them like domesticated horses, but this was not to be the case.  The pony started aggressively going after the person trying to bite and kick them.  They are wild animals after all.

Running about

As we went for a short hike onto the forest heath we were lucky to come across some young foals.  And they were so cute.  I am not sure their fate exactly as they could get sold as adults for use or for food.  But at least for the life they have they have land and country to roam free and be wild as they should be.