New Forest Horse

New Forest Horse

Origin: England — New Forest area of Hampshire.

Height: 12-14.2hh.

Color: Any color except piebald or skewbald.

Character: Intelligent, brave, willing, docile, very friendly, and quick to learn. Because the New Forest area — less a forest than an open expanse of common cross-hatched with roads and picnic places — is within handy reach of London and the densely-populated southeast, the free-range pony is exposed to visitors from birth and grows up less shy of people and man-created terrors such as traffic than any of the other British mountain and moorland breeds. For this reason, it is the safest possible ride for children.

Physique: Because the New Forest pony is a mixture of many breeds which have been turned loose on the common over the centuries with no serious attempt to control the type until 1938, it comes in a wide range of sizes and shapes. However, under the watchful eye of the New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society, a definite type is becoming recognized:

Rather large head with an intelligent eye, well set on a shortish neck. Good shoulder, short back with a deep girth, and strong loins and hindquarters.Good, hard legs with short cannon bones and excellent feet. It is a hardy, thrifty pony with plenty of endurance. The ponies are categorized into two types. Type A, lighter in bone than the bigger Type B, stands up to 13.2hh and is an excellent child’s hunter and riding pony. Type B stands at 13.2-14.2hh and is a suitable ride for a small adult.

More than a thousand years ago the area covered by the New Forest extended through southern England nearly as far west as Dartmoor and Exmoor, and so it is probable that the original New Forest pony was closely akin to those of the Devon and Somerset moors. The breed has been mixed with abundant new blood since those days, among it that of the Thoroughbred stallion Marske. In 1765Marske, was sold cheaply to a Dorset farmer who used him to cover New Forest mares.

Marske’s obscurity as a farm stallion lasted for only 4 years. In the years 1852 to about 1890 Queen Victoria lent three Arab stallions to run the wild in the Forest, and these must have had some effect upon improving the native ponies — though the degree of their effect would depend on their personalities since it is not the most beautiful stallion who covers themes in the wild but the most determined and aggressive. In the last part of the 19th century, Lord Arthur Cecil introduced to the Forest other native mountain and moorland breeds such as the Galloway and Welsh.

Attempt “to improve- the New Forest pony with richer blood was not universally successful since the progeny was not necessarily able to cope with the scarce winter feed provided by the Forest. It seems logical that today’spony which continues to survive running wild all year round must owe the larger part of its ancestry to the other hardy British mountain and moorland breeds.

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