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The magical sight of stallions in the Forest

Chief Executive Alison Barnes shares her experience of seeing foals and stallions close up on a recent Verderers Tour of Stock.

Twice a year I have the privilege of being invited to the Tour of Stock, a morning spent observing and discussing the welfare of the commoners’ free roaming animals on the Forest. The day is arranged by the Verderers and spent with representatives of the commoning community, welfare organisations and local authorities.

This is an important opportunity for us to get together to tour the Forest and talk about the condition of the stock, which play a vital role in shaping the unique landscape of the Forest. We also discuss the issues and challenges surrounding the management of the Open Forest.

The tours are always a highlight of my year – a hugely valuable opportunity to spend time with those working the Forest and to understand and learn about how we can work together to support commoning. I have learnt an immense amount through these tours and met some wonderful people dedicated to the traditional Forest way of life.  

Whilst each tour is an important event, last Friday’s was truly magical. Not only are the first foals being born at this time of year, but the stallions are out on the Forest for a month. Ten stallions were selected earlier in the spring to play their part in producing the next generation of Forest ponies, with much attention paid to blood lines to secure the most robust offspring. This is led by knowledgeable and dedicated experts who put a lot of thought into their decisions.

Late morning at Ocknell, near Fritham, was the most memorable moment for me, the time at which we spotted President, a glorious liver chestnut stallion. He belongs to commoner Debbie, who I had the great pleasure of spending the morning with.

The sight of President and his admiring herd was a magical experience, which few are lucky enough to see at this time of year. I wonder how many people take time to observe the unique behaviour of a stallion and his mares? This time of year it’s certainly worth slowing down and taking time to stop and see if you can watch this wonderful sight from a distance. It’s also important to be extra vigilant when driving during spring as foals can be skittish, and ponies more unpredictable when stallions are around.

Many thanks to the Verderers and other colleagues for inviting me on these tours and for their warm welcome; I feel truly privileged to be able to attend.

Find out more about the ancient tradition of commoning here.

This entry was posted by Matt Stroud on Friday 22/05/2015


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