Area Guides

Get To Know The New Forest Ponies

Those of you who have visited the New Forest will have noticed many of our famous residents. New Forest ponies have been grazing this area for over 2,000 years and are extremely valuable to this National Park for many reasons.

The ponies play a huge role in the biodiversity of the forest and create many photo opportunities for locals and visitors alike.

Come spring time you’ll begin to spot the little foals following their mothers around the area, trying to make sense of their new world. They can be a little wobbly at first and quite timid with visitors so don’t expect to get close, just admire from afar.

So are these ponies wild?

Yes and no. They are owned by the New Forest Commoners but are allowed to roam freely around the forest.

During summer and autumn the Commoners organise ‘Pony Drifts’ to check the health and wellbeing of their ponies and also clip their tails.

The ponies you see out and about are pure bred New Forest ponies and this can be determined by their colours and markings. This is thanks to the Verderers for keeping an eye on the breeding programme.

Between April and June is when the breeding programme begins as the stallions are let out onto the forest to mate with the roaming mares.

Word of Advice During Your Visit

Remember, ponies, cattle and donkeys have the right of way on the road. Approach slowly, stop if needs be and don’t hurry them. Sadly many are killed in road accidents on an annual basis, therefore to reduce the number of fatalities we must all remain aware of our four legged travellers.

Admire these beautiful animals from a far, especially around the young as mares can become very protective of their foals. This also goes for the stallions around their mares too; they can turn quite aggressive if you come too close.

Please do not feed the ponies either. There is a bylaw which forbids the feeding of livestock in the area and if you are caught you can be fined £200 and even receive a criminal record. Aside from that, these animals are wild and have plenty to eat in their natural habitat; they don’t need your sandwich!

Why not come and see the New Forest ponies for yourself? Our seasonal New Forest breaks will refresh your mind, body and soul right in the heart of the forest.