New Forest Ponies

New Forest Ponies

The New Forest Pony is a recognized British Isles breed and they have been in the area for more than a thousand years, since the late 1920s various attempts have been made to standardize the New Forest Pony to a type. However its really the result of  the interbreeding between the different types  of ponies that have been turned out in the New Forest over many years, giving a wide variation between ponies.

Origin of the New Forest Pony

The earliest written record of horses in the New Forest dates back to the time of William the Conqueror  when rights of common pasture were granted to the people living in what became a royal hunting ground. 

The breed is indigenous to the New Forest, where horses have lived from before the last ice Age which ended about 8000 years ago, also Archaeological remains of horses dating back to around 500,000 BC have been uncovered within 50 miles  from the New Forest. Modern techniques using DNA studies have shown a shared ancestry with the Ancient Celtic-type Asturco’n and also Pottok type ponies, however many breeds have contributed to the bloodstock of the New Forest pony.

There have been attempts to improve the New Forest Pony breed by introducing other types or just as a result of the normal trade of Ponies in the New Forest, many outside breeds were turned over to roam free and pasture on the commons. Notable blood lines introduced to the New Forest were Welsh, Arab and Hackney. Other efforts were made to improve the New Forest Pony by introducing other British Isles pony blood-lines to achieve this, which included Fell, Dales, Highlands, Dartmoor and Exmoor Ponies.

However today only ponies whose parents are both registered as pure bred in the approved section of the stud book, can be registered as a pure bred New Forest Pony. 

A picture of New Forest Ponies with Foal
New Forest Ponies with Foal

Height of the New Forest Pony

Height is between 12 hands to 14.2 hands, and all of the ponies should be strong, workmanlike, and of a good riding type.

Colour of the New Forest Pony

The most prominent colours are bay, brown and gray followed by chestnuts, roans and blacks. Limited white markings are allowed on their head and legs.

Uses of the New Forest Pony

The New Forest ponies have a gentle nature and are a all-round pony, their calm temperament makes them an excellent choice as a horse suitable for both children and adults. They have been raced and are surprisingly fast over rough terrain. They are suited to many activities from Pony Club to Polo, Driving to Dressage, and they are naturals at jumping and gymkhana and are also trained to carry handicapped riders.

Interesting Facts

Over the course of time the New Forest Pony has been improved as a result of outside blood lines, however some attempts at improvement which refined the pony created problems for those horses as they were not adapted to cope with the winter conditions in the New Forest.

In 1765 an attempt was made to improve the New Forest Pony bloodline by introducing a famous thoroughbred called Marske.

In the  1850s Queen Victoria lent an Arab called Zorah to help strengthen the bloodline.

New Forest Pony Society

In 1891, the ‘Society for the improvement of New Forest Ponies’ was created to offer Premiums for suitable stallions to run in the New Forest. Then in 1906 the ‘Burley & District New Forest Pony Breeding & Cattle Society’ began to register mares and young stock, and in 1910 it published its first stud book. Between 1914 to 1959 its registrations were recorded in the National Pony Society’s Stud Book. The two Societies then amalgamated in 1938, and since the mid-1930s no outside blood lines have been permitted . Since 1960 the New Forest Pony Breeding & Cattle Society, has published its own Stud Book.

In recent years there have been  New Forest Ponies bred in private studs outside the New Forest, and there are studs of registered New Forest Ponies in the UK, Europe and also   Australia and North America.

A picture of a New Forest Pony Feeding its Foal in the New Forest
New Forest Pony Feeding its Foal in the New Forest.
A picture of a New Forest Pony Peering Over a large piece of Driftwood
New Forest Pony
A New Forest Pony roaming in the New Forest
One of the many New Forest Ponies roaming in the New Forest

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