Curious facts about the New Forest pony

Posted by Abigail Whyte
22 April 2015 - 12:25

There’s no doubt you’ll see this beautiful creatures grazing on open heathland while you’re hitting the trails, so why not brush up on your New Forest equine knowledge? You'll be guaranteed to impress your cycling buddies!

  • New Forest ponies have been roaming this area since the end of the last Ice Age. That’s around 130,000 years!
  • New Forest ponies are known as the ‘architects of the forest’ for they play a crucial role in preserving this rare ecosystem, grazing the grass and trees.
  • They’re renowned for their fast speed and have been a popular racing breed for decades.
  • Their hardiness made them the perfect candidates for serving in the Boer Wars with the New Forest Scounts mounted infantry.
  • The many acorns that fall to the ground in early autumn are poisonous to the ponies, which is why hundreds of pigs are released into the Forest every September to gobble them all up. This is called Pannage Season.
  • The ponies are owned by New Forest Commoners - a legacy that dates back to the 1217 Charter of the Forest. Commoners are allowed to graze their animals unhindered on the open land and even chop a stipulated amount of firewood for their wood burners at home.
  • New Forest ponies are categorised as a rare breed and have to meet certain criteria - they can be no taller than 148cm and any colour except piebald, skewbald, spotted or blue-eyed cream. The most common colours are bay and chestnut.
  • The New Forest drifts take place from August to October, which involves herding the animals together to give them a health check. This is organised by skilled Commoners on horseback.

Find out more about the New Forest pony.