The Horses And I by Euan Hawes

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with foot- or hoof-prints by Laura Sykes

As I was on my way home from school, my mother and I took a wrong turn and decided to go with it and take the scenic route – as it turned out, this wrong turn seemed to be rather serendipitous. Whilst we were proceeding on our way down the narrow roads of the New Forest, we spotted a few horses crossing the road, and a little later down the road, a harras of horses was grazing near a waterhole. I approached the horses, maintaining a distance of 10-15 feet from them, and took some pictures. These horses were pretty relaxed and didn’t even seem to be bothered by my presence, likely due to the amount of humans that typically journey through the field.

Euan’s images were filmed with his camera phone, not a specialised bit of kit. One of the reasons for his equine subjects being so relaxed was probably his position while studying them and taking photographs: LS

After leaving the area and continuing down the road, we spotted a few more horses that were crossing the road – as such I managed to grab a few more images.

Editor’s note: New Forest ‘horses’ are generally called ‘ponies’. The difference between ponies and horses is chiefly one of size but other factors also apply:

For exampleponies tend to be stocky and stronger (for their size) than horses. They are more tolerant of cold weather and have good endurance, which makes them good work horses. Ponies also tend to be very intelligent. From a human point of view, this means that ponies might be more stubborn than a horse.

The New Forest ponies are a major attraction particularly for the many visitors who come to the Forest every year. The breed is a native one – the largest of the British native pony breeds – and has a long history of employment as a useful and economical draught animal, as a pit pony, and for riding and driving. Although, in the past, Thoroughbred and Arabian blood was introduced into the Forest herds, every effort is now made to
ensure that the New Forest ponies are of a type and build to thrive on the open Forest all year round. Only stallions which have been passed by the Verderers are allowed onto the Forest, in an effort to ensure that the best and strongest foals are bred.

Report on New Forest Traditions by Jo Ivey

The New Forest pony And Me.

More than 50 years ago, I was spending the weekend with some friends in Boldre, a village near Brockenhurst. My hosts asked me if I would like to ride and I enthusiastically accepted, not quite understanding that the New Forest pony, though small, has a well-deserved reputation for being also mean. My fate, as an unfortunate subject of a Thelwell cartoon, was sealed. I don’t remember if anyone lent me a hard hat, but I do remember that my steed set off at a brisk pace which grew ever faster the more I tried to control him. The New Forest feels almost limitless in size, particularly if you are sitting astride a bolting pony. It is also virtually flat, with few natural obstacles. However hard I pulled on the reins and mane, or shouted at it, the pace seemed only to increase. I felt my survival depended on my not falling off and, incredibly, managed to hold on. Even up to the last moment when he stopped dead and airily began to munch at some vegetation. My friends caught up with me and, gathering together the last shreds of my dignity, I managed to dismount and stay standing, although my knees were visibly wobbling. And in my hands was a large tuft of mane hair about which I felt rather guilty but whose removal had had absolutely no effect on my mount, beyond I suppose stirring him on.


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