New Forest pony
|New Forest Pony|
New Forest Pony, Fawley Inclosure Note that in the New Forest, "Inclosure" is the correct spelling
|Distinguishing features:||Very sturdy and with plenty of speed, excellent temperament makes ideal children's pony. All colours are acceptable except piebald, skewbald and cremello. Mostly bay, chestnut and grey are seen.|
|Country of origin:||England|
|Horse (Equus ferus caballus)|
The New Forest Pony or New Forester is one of the recognised Mountain and moorland or Native pony breeds of the British Isles. The breed is valued for its hardiness, strength and sureness of foot. It is indigenous to the New Forest, in Hampshire in southern England, and many ponies can still be seen running loose there.
There have been references to the New Forest Pony as far back as 1016. Stud books have been in existence since 1906. Thoroughbred and Arab blood has been introduced into the breed from time to time to improve looks and increase height and speed. They have been purebred for 50 years. The earliest record of horses in the New Forest dates back to 1016 when rights of common pasture were granted to the people living in what was a royal hunting ground. Since then, either as specific attempts to improve the breed or just as part of the normal ebb and flow of life and trade in the New Forest, many outside breeds were turned over to roam free and pasture on the commons. Notable blood lines introduced by this method were Welsh, Arab and Hackney. Later, another concerted effort was made to improve the New Forest blood and other British Isles pony blood-lines were introduced to achieve this, including Fell Ponies, Dales, Highlands, Dartmoor and Exmoor.
Ponies on the New Forest
The cattle and ponies living on the New Forest are not feral, but are owned by commoners (local people with common grazing rights), who pay a fee each year for each animal turned out. The animals are looked after by their owners and by the Agisters, employees of the Verderers of the New Forest – the Verderers are a statutory body with ancient roots that shares the management of the forest with the Forestry Commission.
The ponies living full-time on the New Forest are almost all mares, although there are also a few geldings. For much of the year the ponies live in small groups, usually consisting of an older mare, her daughters and their foals, all keeping to a discrete area of the Forest called a haunt. Under New Forest regulations mares and geldings may be of any breed, and although they are predominately New Foresters other breeds such as Shetlands (and their cross-bred descendants) are also found in some areas. Stallions must be registered New Foresters, and are normally turned out during spring and summer, when they gather mares into larger groups and defend them against other stallions.
Drifts (round-ups) are carried out in autumn – the colts and some fillies are removed, and the remaining fillies are each branded with their owner's mark. At this time breeding stock is selected by the New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society. Otherwise the lives of the ponies are relatively unhindered by humans unless they need veterinary attention or additional feeding, when they are usually taken off the Forest.
New Forest Ponies are raced in an annual point to point meeting in the Forest, usually on Boxing Day, finishing at a different place each year. The races do not have a fixed course, but are run across the open Forest, with the locations of start points being given to competitors only on the previous evening. This means that detailed knowledge of the Forest is a great advantage for riders, with different competitors often taking different routes around obstructions such as inclosures (forestry plantations), fenced paddocks and bogs.
The upper height limit is 148 cm. There is no lower limit but New Forest ponies are seldom under 12 hands (120 cm). They are normally shown in two height sections 138 cm and under (competition type A) and over 138 cm (competition height B). You can identify a New Forester by its free, even movement, plenty of frame, muscular hind quarters, good depth of body and a sense of solidity in the frame. The head should show pride, the shoulders should be well sloped with deep reach, the quarters are strong and well muscled, the body is deep, and the legs show an even line with strong joints and solid hooves.
New Forest Ponies are most commonly bay, chestnut or grey, but may be any colour except piebald, skewbald or cremello. Palomino or very light chestnut and cream ponies with dark eyes are only acceptable as geldings and mares. Blue eyes are not permitted. White markings on the head and legs are permitted. However, white markings are not permitted that occur behind the head and above a line parallel to the ground from the point of the hock in the hind leg to the top of the metacarpal bone or bend in the knee in the foreleg.
New Forest ponies should be of riding type with a well built and ample frame, muscular hind quarters and a good depth of body. They should have sloping shoulders, strong quarters, plenty of bone, good depth of body, straight limbs and good hard round feet. The larger ponies, while narrow enough for small children are quite capable of carrying adults. The smaller ponies, though not up to so much weight, often show more show quality.
The New Forest Pony has a free, even movement, active and straight, but not exaggerated. New forest ponies make excellent ponies for gymkhanas. They are also used for show jumping.
The New Forest Pony is considered to have a gentle temperament, and the ponies are noted for their intelligence, strength and versatility. They are noted for friendliness, intelligence, strength, versatility and are nearly always willing-to-please. New Foresters are amongst the most approachable of all the native British pony breeds, perhaps because of their history of frequent contact with man.
- Mountain and moorland ponies
- ↑ "Rare Steeds". BBC. January 2006. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/science/raresteeds.shtml. Retrieved 2008-07-08.
- ↑ http://www.newforestpony.com/point2point.html Report of 2008 New Forest Point to Point.