FEWER stallions are set to be released on to the Forest next month amid fears coronavirus will affect the demand for ponies.
The verderers’ office confirmed this week that 10 stallions will be turned out on 11th May for five to six weeks at Beaulieu aerodrome, Black Knowl, Bratley, Canterton, Hale, Hilltop, Holmsley, Longdown, Mill Lawn and Penn Common.
Justine Bayley, who is assistant to the verderers’ clerk, told the A&T: “Fewer stallions will be turned out this year due to the uncertainty in the pony market in the current coronavirus situation.
“It is unknown what state the market will be in next year and fewer stallions will produce fewer foals but still protect the New Forest pony breed for the future. The New Forest pony is still on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s watch list for 2021.”
Fewer people and less traffic on the Forest as a result of the lockdown will benefit the stallions and mares, she added, as there will be less interference from the public walking through the herd and less risk of being run over when the mares are being rounded up by the stallions.
Justine added: “The traffic, though, is starting to increase now as more and more people are travelling to the Forest for daily exercise, despite the all the Forestry England car parks being closed. We have had several recent weeks with no animal accidents but with the increased traffic, sadly, this will probably end.”
She urged the public to avoid the stallions and not to ride or walk through pony herds, adding: “We would like to remind people to keep their distance from all Forest stock, especially the stallions. They have an important job to do.”