Help protect New Forest foalsPUBLISHED ON: 10 MAY 2021
During spring in the New Forest the first of the Forest-bred foals start to appear.
Often seen running rings round their mothers or walking on wobbly legs, these foals are the offspring of the stallions turned out on the Forest the previous summer – they are both sired and born on the Forest.
The free-roaming animals of the New Forest are all owned by commoners, local people who have the right to graze their animals on the open Forest through the land they rent or own.
Most of the ponies you see on the Forest are pure-bred New Forest ponies with bloodlines that go back generations. The stallions are also all pure-bred and rigorously inspected and licensed, while all foals must be registered with The New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society.
Charlotte Lines, Chair of the New Forest Commoners Defence Association, said: ‘We are proud of our New Forest ponies; along with our cattle, they are a central part of our cultural heritage and some of the ponies’ breeding lines can be traced back generations. We have done a lot of work with the selection of our stallions which will run on the forest, preserving rare bloodlines and only licensing those that pass the scrutiny of a panel of judges.’
The New Forest pony has adapted to grazing the Forest’s extraordinary mosaic of habitats – ranging from coastal marshes and bogs, to dry heaths, hedgerows and woodlands – and commoning makes a positive contribution to the remarkable biodiversity of the National Park.
If you live in or visit the New Forest National Park, please be careful on the roads as grazing animals, especially foals, are unpredictable and they have no road sense. They can run into the road without warning, so always drive slow and wide around animals and be ready to stop at any time.
It’s also important that you never approach or feed ponies or other livestock in the New Forest. Feeding commoners’ animals is an offence under the byelaws and very harmful; it can cause colic and choke and disrupts their natural grazing habits.