Our Animal Fact Files focus on one animal that you can find in the New Forest and each blog will share lots of interesting facts about our animals, so everyone can learn and understand more about the wonderful wildlife in our beautiful National Park…
Top facts about Ponies in the New Forest:
- There are around 5,000 ponies roaming in the New Forest.
- Ponies have been roaming the forest floors for over 2,000 years.
- They may seem wild, but every pony in the New Forest has an owner. These are called Commoners.
- The ‘New Forest Pony’ is a native breed, which is on the ‘at risk’ register.
- The New Forest Ponies’ early ancestry can include other strains, such as Dartmoor and Welsh stock.
- As well as New Forest Ponies, there are also Shetlands and some other ‘unregistered’ breeds, but all of which are approved on the forest, with their own Passport, and are branded by their owners.
- Around 30 pony drifts occur each year, during late summer and autumn, so the ponies can have a health check.
- Stallions are released onto the forest every year (around May and June) for 4-6 weeks, to breed with the female ponies, who are on the forest all the time. The ‘Stallion Scheme’ was bought in to help reduce overbreeding of foals.
- Foals are born in the spring time, with the gestation period for ponies being 11 months.
- Sales of New Forest bred ponies take place at Beaulieu Road Pony Sales Yard. Some of these New Forest ponies have gone on to win National competitions.
- The New Forest Ponies’ full diet is natural food from the open forest and woodlands. Which is also an important role in helping maintain the New Forest landscape, including keeping the grass short.
- The acorns that fall on the forest floors during the autumn are poisonous to the ponies, which is why the pigs are released onto the forest, to eat up all of the acorns.
Please always follow the New Forest Code in the New Forest. Do not touch the ponies, or other animals. Do not feed the ponies, or other animals, they have plenty of natural food from the New Forest and human food is harmful to them. Drive carefully, please note that ponies have little to no road sense and often stand in the middle of roads – pass wide and slow if you do come across a pony in the middle of the road or on the verge of a road. See the full New Forest Code below: