EQUESTRIANS and walkers are being urged to avoid parts of the New Forest after reports of a stallion chasing a horse rider near Burley.
The incident, described as “very dangerous and frightening”, took place in the Burley Rocks area.
Equestrian Joanne Cox said: “Please be very careful if riding up by Burley Rocks underpass. A very aggressive black stallion attacked my mare.”
Writing on Facebook, Ms Cox described the attack as “completely unprovoked”.
She said the stallion had approached the mare she was riding from some distance away, and she had tried to chase it off with a whip: “We took another route and he came trotting across the gorse to her.
“I got off to chase him. The mare broke away and he chased her back to the herd. Luckily she has only a few cuts and bruises. Hopefully she is not in foal!”
Sue Westwood, clerk to the verderers, confirmed an incident had taken place but added the stallion had not been removed from the Forest.
She said: “We do remove stallions but only if they are causing significant problems. We haven’t heard about any other problems associated with this stallion.”
“It can be very difficult because we have all standards of rider on the Forest. Usually if a stallion approaches, you would just need to shout at it or wave your arms around a bit and they will back off.
“I understand it can be frightening and that is exactly why we advise people to steer well clear.”
Fifteen stallions were turned out on to the Forest on Monday 13th May and they are due to be removed by Monday 24th June.
Miss Westwood said: “Please try to avoid the stallions and, unless it is completely unavoidable, please don’t ride or walk through the pony herds.
“They have a job to do and are very important for the future of the New Forest Pony which is currently listed on the Rare Breed Survival Trust’s watch list as a minority breed.”
The male ponies were selected to run on the Forest after vetting by the New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society and the verderers to ensure the best qualities such as stamina, hardiness and temperament are passed on to the next generation of foals.
Full details of the stallion area list are available on the verderers website so equestrians and walkers can check where they are most likely to be.
However, Miss Westwood added: “Please bear in mind the stallions do not always remain in the area where they are first turned out!”