The New Forest Pony - Horse breeds, horse breeding and types of horse.   
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The New Forest Pony

Monkshorn Trooper, a forest run stallion

New Forest Ponies are for Work, for Play, for Dressage, for Show Jumping, for Cross Country, for Riding Club, for Driving, for Children, for Adults, for Riding and Driving for the Disabled, for Showing, for Family Pony, for Working Hunter, for Gymkhana, for Hacking, for Polo, for Eventing, for Hunter Trialling, for Western Riding, for Endurance, for Hunting, for Pony Club, for the Experienced, for Beginners, for just about everything a good pony can do but most of all for SHEER PLEASURE !!!

New Forest Ponies are one of the recognised 9 Mountain and Moorland or Native pony breeds of the British Isles, Stud Books have been in existence since 1906. Many of them can be seen running wild on the New Forest in southern England.

Brummerhoeves Boss (Dutch Bred New Forest)
They should be of riding type with substance. They should have sloping shoulders, strong quarters, plenty of bone, good depth of body, straight limbs and good hard round feet. The larger ponies, while narrow enough for small children, are quite capable of carrying adults. The smaller ponies, though not up to so much weight, often show more quality.

Their movement should be free, active and straight, but not exaggerated.

They should have an ideal temperament and be very easy to train.


Their history is long. King Canute's Forest Law of 1016 records the presence of horses among the other wild animals of the Forest, just how and when all the ponies passed into private ownership is not certain, and unfortunately few written references to them have come down through the years, but in general the New Forest pony always seems to have been valued for it's docility, hardiness, strength and sureness of foot.

Thoroughbred and Arab blood was introduced from time to time to improve looks and increase height, but it was not until the end of the nineteenth century that systematic attempts were made to improve the breed were made.

Farriers Drummer Boy

In 1891, the Society for the improvement of New Forest Ponies was founded to offer Premuims to suitable stallions to run on the Forest. In 1906 the Burley District New Forest Pony Breeding Cattle Society started to register mares and youngstock and published it's first Stud Book in 1910. There was a current theory that the best way of improving the breed was to introduce stallions from other native breeds and as the earliest Stud Book shows, as acceptable sires for New Forest Ponies, a curious assortment of stallions.From 1914 to 1959 registrations were recorded in the National Pony Society's Stud Book. In 1938 the two local Societies amalgamated and no outside blood has been permitted since the mid - 1930s. In 1960 the New Forest Pony Breeding Cattle Society started to publish it's own Stud Book and has done ever since.

The notable features of New Forest Pony breeding of recent years have been the increase in the numbers of New Forest Ponies bred in private Studs outside the New Forest and in the numbers of ponies exported. There are now flourishing Studs of Registered New Forest Ponies not only in the U.K. but all over Europe and as far away as North America and Australia.


The upper height limit is 148 cms (just over 14.2 hands). There is no lower limit but the very small ponies under 12 hands are becoming rarer. Showing classes may be divided at 13.2 hands and under and over 13.2 hands.

Surviving Breed Show schedules from the early 1900's have races for adults riding Registered New Forest ponies of under 11.2 hands!!!

New Forest Ponies are bred to be suitable for both adults and children, a big New Forester should have the bone and substance to carry an adult, New Forest Ponies perform well in virtually all equine spheres.


New Forest Ponies may be any colour except piebald, skewbald and blue eyed cream. Pale chestnuts (palaminos) are only acceptable as fillies or geldings. White markings are allowed provided they are in accordance with the current conditions of Entry into the Stud Book. horse
Newholme Lucinda & Clayhill Stans Folly

Can I take one home?

Silverlea Jack Flash
No, you cannot take one home, all the ponies you may see running on the New Forest have owners.

Although they may appear to be wild, they are not wild in the true sense but are in fact owned by Commoners of the New Forest (those who have the right to graze stock - ponies and cattle and more rarely sheep). The ponies are looked after by the Agisters as well as their owners.

The Agisters are the employees of the Verderers of the New Forest, and their duties include keeping an eye on the stock living on the New Forest.

The Verderers are a modern statutory body sharing the management of the New Forest with the Forestry Commission. They operate under the New Forest Acts 1877 - 1970. They control almost all forms of development in the Woods and Heaths of the New Forest. They regulate the agricultural use (exercise of common rights) in the New Forest. Within these wide categories, they have a variety of other duties. For fuller information visit their Website: The Verderers Site

Peveril Peterborough
All the wild ponies are not real New Forest Ponies, although all the stallions that live on the New Forest must be Registered in the Stud Book, the Commoners may turn out mares and more rarely geldings of any breed or cross breed, therefore you may see skewbalds etc. Many of the mares are Registered though and their progeny that were born and sired on the New Forest, (shown as FOREST BRED on the new style Registration documents), have gone on to be wonderful riding or driving ponies.

FOREST BRED - a pony that was sired and foaled on the open New Forest, will have Forest Bred on it's papers. There are now some showing classes and or special rosettes for ponies which were Forest Bred .

Forest Bred ponies have the advantage of being traffic proofed from birth, foals may be seen sleeping on the grass verges seemingly only inches away from passing coaches and lorries.

What can they do?

The answer is almost anything, they are renowned for their versatility and temperament.

They are normally very easy to train, the stallions are easy to handle and most are ridden throughout the year. The Society puts emphasis on temperament and a pony exhibiting poor behaviour will be penalised.
Rodlease Fantasia

It's native virtues of strength, intelligence, speed and agility, coupled with a calm and willing temperament make the New Forest Pony an ideal choice for any member of the family. They are also widely used for Driving and Riding for the Disabled.


New Forest Ponies are shown unplaited, but may have lightly pulled manes and tails. The jawline and heels may be trimmed, Forest run classes at the Society's Annual Show excepted (see rule 4).

Clipping, except for the legs, is allowed for working ponies in their winter coats.

No make up is allowed or any other falsification of markings

In classes for ponies off the Forest, they must be shown in a completely natural state i.e. with unpulled manes and tails and no trimming of heels or jawline..

Yearlings are not allowed to be shown in bits. Stud Stallions 2 years and over may be shown in bridles with bits. Chifney bits are not allowed in any circumstances.
Ashfield Black Jack

At the Society's Annual Breed Show all in hand ponies must be shown in white halters, including stallions off the Forest. Stud Stallions excepted (see Rule 5).

Judges have been asked to take behaviour and temperament into account and not to judge ponies the behaviour of which they consider to be a danger to either the handler/rider or other competitors. Such a pony will be asked to leave the ring.

A pony is only a real New Forest Pony if it has been registered with the New Forest Pony Breeding Cattle Society (if it was bred in the UK) or one of the other Societies in other parts of the world if it was bred there.

Unless the papers your pony has are from one of these Societies or your papers are overstamped by one of these Societies, your pony can not be deemed to be a Registered New Forest Pony. If you have papers, a British Horse Database Passport for instance which gives the breed as New Forest, you should contact our office and find out whether your pony is Registered before you breed from it or show it as a New Forest Pony. You should also check that a pony bred overseas does fulfill as the criteria for inclusion in the New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society register before you import it.

Hop Pocket Ace of Diamonds
Unfortunately, the title New Forest Pony is often applied to any pony which has a connection with the New Forest, it may for instance have been bought at one of the New Forest Sales but it is not neccessarily registered or eligible for Registration.

No pony born in or after 1998 is eligible for registration as a New Forest Pony if it's birth was not recorded by the Society. If you have a pony which you think may be eligible for registration please contact the office.

Colts and Stallions may only be used for breeding and or showing as a Registered New Forest Pony, if they have been passed by a Veterinary Surgeon. If you have a New Forest Pony colt or stallion, please contact the Society for details of the Veterinary inspection before you use him. Progeny of a colt or stallion which has not passed inspection are not eligible for registration.

Artificial Insemination / AI

Frozen and chilled semen from New Forest stallions, is available for more information:

This article and the accompanying illustrations are courtesy of the New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society

To learn more about the New Forest Pony please click here to visit their website


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