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The New Forest Pony

Table of Contents

History and Origin of the Breed

Breed Characteristics

Breed Organisations

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History and Origin of the Breed

Many myths surround the New Forest ponies. One ascribes their origin to animals escaped from wrecked Armada ships. The current race of ponies has only been established little over a hundred years.

New Forest ponies combine the characteristics of the other native British ponies such as strength, intelligence and agility with a narrower build, tractable temperament and speed. It is a recognized breed of the mountain and moorland ponies of the British Isles. Not only was the breed influenced by native British stock but also the various infusions of blood from horses that crossed Britain during various periods of history. It was not until the end of the nineteenth century that systematic efforts were made to improve the breed. In 1891, the Society for the Improvement of New Forest Ponies was founded. In 1906, the Burley and District New Forest Pony and Cattle Breeding Society started to register mares and young stock, and the first studbook was published in 1910. At that time stallions from other native breeds were used to improve breed and the early studbooks show a curious assortment of sires.

From 1914 to 1959 registrations were recorded in the National Pony Society's studbook. In 1938 the two local societies merged and no outside blood has been permitted since the mid 1930s. In 1960, the New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society started to publish its own studbook and has continued to the present.

Today, as in the past, these wild, though privately owned ponies roam their ancient homeland unencumbered. Their owners pay for grazing rights in the forest and each fall the ponies are rounded up and evaluated for breeding by the New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society. This organisation continues to oversee the management and breeding of the ponies in order to ensure their survival.

In recent years an increasing number of New Forest ponies have been bred in private studs outside the forest and many ponies have been exported. Presently there are flourishing studs of registered New Forest ponies not only in the United Kingdom but also throughout Europe, Canada and Australia.

Most New Forest ponies are good jumpers and are naturally good at gymkhana events and mounted games. They make excellent harness ponies. New Forest ponies have been successfully trained for dressage, polo, long-distance riding, cross-country events and carrying the disables. They have long been raced locally and are surprisingly fast, especially over rough terrain.

The New Forest Pony is considered an ideal mount for families seeking a horse appropriate for both children and adults and one that is skilled in adapting to the various skill levels of various riders.

Breed Characteristics

New Forest Ponies range in size from 12 hh to 14.2 hh, and although there is no official lower limit, they seldom go below 12hh. The most prominent colours are bay, brown and grey followed by chestnuts, roans and blacks. Limited white markings are allowed on the head and legs. Blue-eyed creams, piebalds and skewbalds are not permitted.

The New Forester displays free, straight movement, plenty of bone, strong rear quarters, good depth of body and should be of riding type, with a good deal of substance. The head should be of "pony type;" the shoulders should be long and sloping; the quarters should be strong and well muscled; the body is deep; the legs are straight with strong joints and good hard hooves. The larger ponies, while narrow enough for children are capable of carrying adults. The smaller ponies, although not up to so much weight, usually show more quality than the larger animals.

Breed Organisations

UK ;

New Forest Pony Breeding & Cattle Society

Secretary; Miss D McNair

Beacon Cottage, Burley. BH24 4EW


The New Forest Pony Association & Registry was established in 1989 .

All breed standards have remained the same as those in England.

The New Forest Pony Association & Registry
P. O. Box 206
Pascag, RI 02859

Tel: (401) 568-8238
Fax: (401)567-0311
Web Site (USA):
Email (USA):