New Forest Ponies – Where To See? New Forest Animals

The New Forest is a magical place filled with many New Forest Animals. But some of the most magical things within the forest are the New Forest Ponies.

A short drive away from Bournemouth you will find the New Forest and the many quaint villages within it. Here you will find the New Forest Ponies roaming free as well as other animals such as boar, pigs, donkeys, geese, sheep and ducks.

The Agisters are responsible for supervising the day-to-day welfare of the stock (ponies, cattle, donkeys, pigs and sheep) which graze the Forest and are owned by the Commoners. If you see a New Forest Pony in danger or distress please contact the Verderers’ Office on 02380 282052.

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New Forest Ponies Where To See

New Forest Ponies in Sway
New Forest Ponies in the Sway area of the New Forest

The New Forest Ponies roam free around the New Forest as well as other New Forest animals. They are released every year and are left to spend their time living wild in the forest. Here they mingle and breed and you will see many newborn foals around the spring and summer months.

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There is no restriction on where they can go and so you will see them walking on roads around the villages and mingling at the side of verges.

The most popular places to see the New Forest Ponies and other New Forest animals are out on a walk within the forest where you are sure to come across a herd or two. Or if you were to visit one of the many villages. Burley is a popular place to see the ponies. They are renowned to mingle in the Queens Head pub car park where it is shaded from the sun.

A herd of New Forest Ponies
A herd of New Forest Ponies

The village of Brockenhurst is another popular spot where you will find them walking along the village paths and congregating around shaded tree areas.

Many of the ponies and donkeys live on the forest all year round with only the pigs having restricted rights of 60 days, which is just enough time for them to eat all the fallen acorns.

The New Forest Ponies grow very thick coats in the winter months to protect them from frost and cold. The New Forest Pony was bred to be a very hardy breed and they do absolutely fine living out in the winter months.

New Forest Ponies in Sway
New Forest Ponies shading from the heat in Sway

When are the New Forest Pony Sales?

Some of the ponies and foals are sold at the annual Beaulieu Road Horse Sales and this is an event open to anyone to go and see. Here you get a chance to buy your very own, real New Forest Pony. Many of the ponies go on from here to become riding ponies as the New Forest breed is very versatile and suits a number of disciplines.

Can you feed or Stroke the New Forest Ponies?

If you see the ponies it is prohibited to feed them. This is to keep them from becoming accustomed to being fed by tourists which attracts them to the main roads which have proven to be deadly.

There have also been numerous ponies who have succumbed to bloat which is very painful from being fed by tourists. Even feeding them veg isn’t allowed. So please keep in mind that you can be prosecuted if you feed any of the animals which roam in the forest.

The ponies are beautiful and you are allowed to stop and look at them but you must refrain from stroking or feeding them. Only The Commoners are allowed to stroke or feed their ponies.

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Who Owns The New Forest Ponies?

The ponies are all owned by The Commoners. These are people who live within the New Forest and have been given Commoners Rights. This means they are allowed to let their livestock graze on the forest.

The ponies are necessary to the ecology of the Forest. The commenters are encouraged to keep their livestock on the forest to roam free and in some cases are even offered payment.

New Forest Pony Foal
New Forest Pony Foal

There are currently around 700 commoners turning their New Forest animals out onto the forest to free roam.

Each owner has their own official brand and the ponies are given this branded mark so that they are easily identifiable and protected from theft.

Each year initiatives are brought in to help the forest ecology and the New Forest animals. These include the New Forest pony ‘Bloodline Scheme’ which is intended to re-introduce selected bloodlines into the Forest; the ‘Stallion Scheme’ which manages the selection and number of stallions that run on the Forest each year; and a newly introduced ‘Pony Welfare Programme’ which encourages commoners to replace older ponies with young stock, avoiding the inevitable welfare problems encountered by older ponies on the Forest. 

New Forest Pony Roundups

In the early Autumn, the agisters round up all of the ponies when they are all checked over and branded if necessary and their tails cut. They will also be given reflective collars if the owners so wish. This is also the perfect opportunity to have the ponies wormed and any vaccinations given.

The majority of the ponies are then set free back out onto the open forest again, but a small proportion is put up for sale through the Beaulieu Road Horse Sales.

Approximately 40 roundups take place per year between August and November. The Agisters have to do it in stages as there are too many ponies to round up in one go. This is a very busy time for the New Forest Agisters and volunteers.

New Forest Ponies
New Forest Ponies

New Forest Ponies Facts:

The New Forest Ponies are a rare breed and are now an endangered species. This is why it’s so important that they are watched out for and that people don’t drive over the speed limit in the forest. Unfortunately, many of the ponies are killed each year due to dangerous drivers who don’t see them on the roads at night.

The ponies become very friendly as tourists try and stroke them. The ponies migrate nearer to roads to be stroked and fed by the tourists, where the accidents happen.

How Many New Forest Ponies Are There? And other New Forest Animals

The number of ponies on the forest each year varies but the latest figures are 5300 ponies. There are other New Forest animals roaming free in the forest equating to 4700 cattle, 190 donkeys, 330 pigs and 200 sheep.

On average over the last five years, about 0.8% of Commoners’ stock turned out into the Forest are killed each year in road traffic accidents. For example, in 2014, 68 animals were killed, and 23 injured

If you see any New Forest animals which look ill, are injured, or in distress you should report it as soon as possible, giving: a clear description of the animal, what you think may be wrong with it, where you saw it, and at what time. During working hours you should telephone the Verderers’ Office on 02380 282052.

If you are unable to obtain a reply then try the Forestry England on 0300 0674600. The Forestry England line is answered 24 hours a day. If you don’t get an answer from either of these numbers and the situation is urgent, please call the Police on either 999 or 101 and ask them to contact an Agister.