VIDEO: Call for 'no feeding' signs after pony filmed damaging car
A SHOCKING video showing a mare jumping onto a car bonnet to escape the aggression of other ponies during a feeding frenzy in a New Forest car park has prompted calls for more signage telling people not to give treats to the animals.
Commoner Jacqui Vanderhoek highlighted the incident at Cadnam cricket ground during the January meeting of the Verderers’ Court, and warned in her presentment of the dangers of feeding livestock.
The video was shared on social media, with the tagline: “Wait for it! Horse jumps on my car.”
Mrs Vanderhoek said: “The creator is heard saying ‘awesome’ as my Crabbswood mare becomes trapped by the opened car door and jumps it to escape aggression within the pony group.
“She then becomes straddled at her stifle and lands across the bonnet, breaking the window seal, the door mirror and denting the bonnet.
“My mare returns to the vehicle, which appears to be owned by the person capturing the footage and has a bag of food in the off-side footwell.”
Mrs Vanderhoek was alerted by an agister, who asked her to check the pony, which was unharmed by the incident.
But she added: “I have noticed a change in my mare’s behaviour since last summer. She now bites my hands when I check her on the Forest.
@onejackwooddesignhorses attacking us. jumped on my car.##horse#
“The pony groups have learnt, especially since the summer post-lockdown explosion of Forest visitors, to gather around the cars for constant petting and feeding.”
Mrs Vanderhoek said when she had approached people feeding or petting ponies, the response was always: “There are no signs.”
She added: “I would like to see signage that displays a clear, firm and effective message in all Forest car parks, however inaesthetic.
“The next wave of visitors released back into the Forest this spring, interacting with our animals in the same manner as last year, is alarming.”
Mrs Vanderhoek also told the verderers ponies were being fed bags of apples by teenagers at the roadside at dusk.
A recent Facebook post by New Forest commoner Suzanne Kempe showed a pony foaming at the mouth after choking on chopped-up carrots.
Sue Westwood, verderers clerk, said problems from feeding livestock were escalating.
“It makes some animals aggressive, either towards one another, or other innocent members of the public who come along later,” she said.
As land manager of the New Forest, Forestry England (FE) is responsible for signage, but permanent signs would require the verderers’ consent.
An FE spokesperson said: “We use signage at our busiest car parks and have supported the Commoners’ Defence Association with their additional livestock signage.
“However, it’s not practical to have signs everywhere across the New Forest, as it’s a large open space and the animals roam freely to find the best locations for grazing. Our current signage is focussed at locations that we know have the highest footfall.”
Rangers and keepers also patrol throughout the year urging people not to feed or pet the
animals, added the spokesperson.
“We understand that everyone loves New Forest ponies, as do we, but people need to act responsibly for the protection of the ponies and other grazing animals,” she said.