Letter: The pony-endangering culture of urban New Forest residents
SIR – I regularly see dead animals that have been killed in collisions with vehicles on the straight open road across Hilltop. The vegetation has been cut back providing good visibility and I am rarely overtaken by speeding drivers, so it is difficult to see how these collisions occur.
Recently, I saw a group of ponies at a spot where one had been killed in a hit-and-run incident. As I slowed down, the car behind drove up close, tailgating me.
The driver clearly believed I was someone who was unused to seeing ponies at the side of the road. One pony’s reflective collar was caught in the sign requesting information about the RTC.
Suddenly the ponies spooked, uprooting the sign.
Like Donald Trump supporters, the urban Forest residents have their own culture. Their most dangerous myths are that if ponies are grazing they don’t need to slow down, and that on straight open road, the ponies will see them and not cross. Unfortunately ponies are not equipped to judge the high speeds of approaching cars.
A few days later, I was helping find two injured ponies hit by a car. The driver, aware that ponies crossed at that point, had slowed to 30mph, but was still taken by surprise.
Drivers have a responsibility to stop within the distance they can see to be clear. In the Forest, travelling at 30mph is often inappropriately fast.
Ponies are even more unpredictable than young children and are much faster and heavier. In the Forest, Drivers need to take the same care as they would near schools and kindergartens.
This Forest deserves the same respect as any in India or South America. You may have a 4x4, a horse, a dog and a pair of wellies, but if you speed past Forest animals or vegetation that could be hiding them you are not part of the Forest community.
C. J. Aldhous,