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More New Forest stallions released in bid to halt decline of breed



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MORE stallions will be released this summer in a bid to protect the shrinking population of pure-bred New Forest ponies.

For the second year running, 20 stallions will be turned out, up from 10 animals in 2020 after the local variety was placed on a watch list by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

Announcing details of this year's arrangements, Official Verderer Lord Manners told a meeting of the Verderers' Court: “The breeding herd of pure-bred New Forest ponies is reducing year on year and the breed is considered to be at risk.”

In previous years the number of animals has been set at 15, but in 2020 was reduced to 10
In previous years the number of animals has been set at 15, but in 2020 was reduced to 10

The male ponies are chosen after careful vetting by the New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society and the verderers.

Introduced in 2001, the stallion scheme ensures animals are chosen with important qualities such as stamina, hardiness and temperament, which will be passed to the next generation of foals.

They are only allowed on the Forest for eight to nine weeks to limit the number of foals born each year. Before the scheme was introduced up to 100 stallions ran on the Forest year round, with foals sometimes only fetching a few pounds at auction.

The ponies will be turned out on Monday and must be brought back in by Monday 11th July.

Verderers clerk Sue Westwood told the A&T the Commoners' Defence Association had asked for an increase in the number of stallions this year.

She said: "The prices that New Forest ponies are fetching are still very encouraging and we have been hearing from commoners who tell us that their mares have not produced a foal for a number of years.

"It can be a difficult call to make because we are only just finding out how many foals are being born from last summer. But we are concious that pure-bred New Forest Ponies are on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust watchlist."

In previous years the number of animals has been set at 15, but concerns that the pandemic would affect demand for ponies led to a reduction to 10 for 2020.

Head agister Jonathan Gerelli said: "The things to consider include how many foals will be produced, what the demand/market for the foals will be, bearing in mind we are trying to predict what the situation will be in the autumn of the following year as that is when the foals made this spring will be sold.

"We also have to look at the number of foals that are needed as replacement breeding stock so commoners can maintain their herds.

"Another important factor is ensuring we have enough stallions of different blood lines to maintain a diverse gene pool for the breed, and then carefully select the areas where the stallions will be turned out."

Members of the public are urged to avoid getting too close to ponies during stallion season, due to the tendency for frisky and unpredictable behaviour.

Jehanna Stride with the Rowl Kitcher Cup and Richard Deakin
Jehanna Stride with the Rowl Kitcher Cup and Richard Deakin

This year a tradition of presenting the Rowl Kitcher Cup for the highest scoring young colt at the stallion inspections continued – with the award going to Mogshade Quarryman, owned by Jehanna Stride.

The cup was presented at the Verderers' Court by Richard Deakin, chair of the verderers' stallion sub-committee and the nephew of Rowl Kitcher.



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