Sally Fear pony drift rider Steve Kitcher
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New Forest pony drifts and 2021 dates and where to avoid

Drifts in the New Forest National Park

About the drifts or "round-ups" and where to find 2021 dates and locations to avoid 

Sally Fear photo of pony drift, rider Steve KitcherEd note: Sally Fear is a "fear-less" local photographer who "gets in where other people don't" to capture the gritty and stunning realism of life in the heart of the New Forest.

Sally has also published some amazing books full of fascinating forest facts as well as her incredible photography. 

For more images like this one visit this gallery page on Sally's website.

This year's pony drifts start on the weekend of 21-22 August, keep an eye out for dates and locations by checking this link where the remaining dates and locations will be posted.

Members of the public are urged please to stay clear of the forest folk doing this important and sometimes dangerous work to preserve our forest heritage.

About the annual pony drifts

The​ ​Drift​ ​(or​ ​Round up) is​ ​an​ ​annual​ ​tradition​ ​that​ ​is​ ​carried​ ​out​ ​in​ ​many​ ​areas​ ​of​ ​the​ ​country​ ​that have​ ​wild​ ​or​ ​semi-feral​ ​stock. It​ ​is​ ​an​ ​essential​ ​part​ ​of​ ​the​ ​management​ ​of​ ​the​ ​stock​ ​to​ ​maintain the​ ​health​ ​and​ ​welfare​ ​of the​ ​animals.

In​ ​the​ ​New​ ​Forest,​ ​the​ ​5​ ​Agisters​ ​who between them cover the entire forest area, ​constantly​ ​monitor​ ​the​ ​animals​ ​to​ ​make​ ​sure​ ​they​ ​are​ ​fit​ ​and​ ​healthy. Any animal​ ​looking poor​ ​may be taken off the forest at​ ​any​ ​time​ ​2015 Fritham drift by New Forest Commonerthroughout​ ​the​ ​year​ ​and it is then the Commoner's (owner's) responsibility to take it ​back​ ​to​ ​their​ ​smallholding​. ​

Drifts​ ​are​ ​organised​ ​in​ ​the​ ​autumn​ ​to​ round up and ​check​ ​on​ ​the​ ​health​ ​and​ ​well​ ​being​ ​of all the​ ​ponies.​ ​Over​ ​30​ ​drifts​ ​happen​ ​in the​ ​Forest​ ​each​ ​year​ ​with​ ​a​ ​small​ ​area​ ​covered​ ​at​ ​a​ ​time.​ ​This helps​ the ​Commoners,​ who are the ​owners​ ​of​ ​the​ ​ponies, ​to​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​check​ ​the ​animals​​ ​brought​ ​in to their own location and also to help each other. 

The Agisters​ ​work​ ​with​ ​the​ ​Commoners​ ​who​ ​attend​ ​to​ ​ensure​ ​as​ ​many​ ​as​ ​possible​ ​are​ ​'rounded​ ​up'. Not​ ​an​ ​easy​ ​task​ ​as​ ​New​ ​Forest​ ​ponies​ ​are​ ​clever​ ​and​ ​it​ ​is​ ​not​ ​possible​ ​to​ ​get​ ​each​ ​one​ ​in. The​ ​main​ ​aim​ ​is​ ​to​ ​gather the​ ​mares​ ​with​ ​foals.​ ​Each​ ​pony​ ​is​ ​checked, wormed​ ​, and​ ​has​ ​its​ ​tail​ ​clipped​ ​to​ ​show​ ​they​ ​have​ ​been​ ​in,​ ​and​ ​which Agister​ ​has​ ​checked​ ​them.​ ​Each​ ​Agister​ ​has​ ​his​ ​own​ ​unique​ ​cut. Foals​ ​are​ ​either​ ​branded​ ​and​ ​'turned​ ​back​ ​out'​ ​or​ ​taken​ ​off​ ​from​ ​their​ ​mother​ ​to​ ​be​ ​weaned. Every​ ​Commoner​ ​has​ ​an​ ​individual​ ​brand. 

Walkers, cyclists and horse riders please avoid the drifts

Following​ ​two​ ​incidents​ ​in​ ​2012​ ​when​ ​members​ ​of​ ​the​ ​public​ ​unwittingly​ ​became​ ​involved​ ​in​ ​a pony​ ​drift,​ ​as​ ​part​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Verderer's​ ​review​ ​into​ ​safety​ ​during​ ​the​ ​drift​ ​season ​the​ ​Verderers decided​ ​to​ ​provide​ ​advance​ ​notice​ ​of​ ​upcoming​ ​activities.​ ​

Drifts​ ​are​ ​to​ ​be​ ​avoided​ ​by​ ​the​ ​public. It​ ​is​ ​unsafe​ ​for​ ​people​ ​to​ ​attend,​ ​as​ ​the​ ​ponies​ ​are​ ​unpredictable.Agisiter landrover roundup in progress by New Forest Commoner Although​ ​the​ ​round-up​ ​is​ ​a coordinated​ ​activity​ ​it​ ​is​ ​not​ ​without​ ​risk,​ ​which​ ​is​ ​why​ ​only​ ​experienced​ ​Commoners​ ​assist​ ​with the​ ​drifts.​ ​Many​ ​of​ ​the​ ​riders​ ​on​ ​the​ ​drifts​ ​now​ ​wear​ ​body-protectors,​ ​which​ ​lessen​ ​the​ ​risk​ ​of injury​ ​to​ ​their​ ​necks​ ​and​ ​backs,​ ​should​ ​an​ ​accident​ ​occur.​ ​The​ ​Agisters,​ ​who​ ​are​ ​expert horsemen,​ ​also​ ​take​ ​added​ ​precautions​ ​and​ ​wear​ ​the​ ​new​ ​style​ ​air​ ​vests​ ​that​ ​inflate​ ​if​ ​the​ ​rider is​ ​disconnected​ ​from​ ​the​ ​saddle.

A​ ​spokesman​ ​for​ ​the​ ​New​ ​Forest​ ​Verderers​ ​said:​ ​“For​ ​their​ ​own​ ​safety,​ ​the​ ​public​ ​is​ ​urged​ ​to avoid​ ​each​ ​area​ ​on​ ​the​ ​day​ ​of​ ​the​ ​drift.” 

2021 Drifts

Please​ ​note:​ ​the​ ​dates​ ​of​ ​the​ ​New​ ​Forest​ ​drifts​ ​are​ ​advertised​ ​to​ ​alert​ ​visitors​ ​and​ ​road-users​ ​to beware. ​The​ ​Public​ ​will​ ​be​ ​asked​ ​to​ ​move​ ​on​ ​for​ ​their​ ​own​ ​safety,​ ​and​ ​that​ ​of​ ​the​ ​animals. 

The drifts begin in late August this year with the first announced for 21-22 August, please check this link for locations as they become published on the Verderers website:

https://www.verderers.org.uk/announcements/advance-warning-of-pony-drifts/ 

Friday 24th September Brockenhurst Weirs The cycle route will be closed at North Weirs Track and at the School Green. Beachern Wood, Whitefield Moor & Whitemoor Pond car parks will be closed for the duration of the drift.

Sunday 26th September East Boldre Bull Hill, Norley Wood, Crockford & Beaulieu Heath car parks will all be closed for the duration of the drift.

For your own safety please avoid the area of the planned drifts, respect the temporary closures and find an alternative car park. Please do not park in front of car park barriers and do not verge park. The Drifts are an essential part of the welfare and management of the Forest Herd.

Reporting an incident

Please also make a note of this page on the Verderers website for in case you you should unfortunately become involved in a road traffic accident:

https://www.verderers.org.uk/reporting-an-incident/

More information

More about the traditions of the New Forest and more amazing photos by Sally Fear too can be found on the Real New Forest website:

https://www.realnewforest.org/about/you-the-forest/ 

 

 

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