On Saturday we were in the New Forest to visit Bucklers Hard - see yesterday's post. Of course no trip to the New Forest would be complete without spotting the ponies who live there.
These animals are not completely feral. They are owned by "commoners" (local people with grazing rights), who pay a fee each year for the animals to be turned out onto the Forest.
The animals are looked after by their owners and by the "Agisters" - employees of the Verderers of the New Forest - a statutory body which manages the Forest with the Forestry Commission.
Almost all the ponies are mares. The ponies usually live in small groups. Stallions must be registered New Foresters, and do not run free all year round. They are normally turned out during Spring and Summer to ensure that foals are not born too early or too late.
"Drifts" to gather the animals are carried out in the Autumn - most colts and fillies are removed, and the remaining fillies are branded with their owner's mark. Ponies are also fitted with reflective collars to reduce traffic fatalities.
The New Forest pony is considered to have a gentle temperament and are noted for their intelligence, strength and versatility.
New Forest ponies make excellent ponies for gymkhanas. They are still the "working pony of choice" for local farmers.
Here is Our Daughter saying "Hello!"
"Who are you then?"
Munching at the gorse bushes!
There we have it an end to our day in the New Forest. Well worth a visit. The place is heaving in the Summer months with tourists so it was nice to have the place pretty much to ourselves.
The ponies were clearly used to humans and were quite happy for you to get up close - Our Daughter was delighted. It's things like that which makes it a day to remember!
Until next time.