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Letter: Drift is a gentle word, but riders in New Forest now treat it more like a ‘stampede’

‘DRIFT’ is a gentle word that conjures up images of riders gently drifting the semi-feral ponies of the New Forest to the pounds for their annual sorting, treating, and marking. There are also the vital helpers on the ground, guarding cattle grids and passageways and, when necessary, making some noise to steer the fast-moving ponies in the right direction.

New Forest pony drift
New Forest pony drift

Why is it that now, as opposed to some 20 years ago, everyone involved – including the riders – makes the maximum noise, conjuring up the word ‘stampede’? We, who have horses in fields close to the activity, do our best to keep our stock safe, but accidents are happening when they too go into panic mode.

If those riding the drift did so quietly, and those on the ground made an adequate amount of noise, it would also leave everyone the option to become louder in any emergency.

These occasions seem to have become an excuse for maximum excitement and a very gung-ho attitude, rather than carrying out a vital part of Forest life in the best way possible for all.

Heather Gould


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