Sally Fear pony drift rider Steve Kitcher
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New Forest pony drifts and 2022 dates and where to avoid

Drifts in the New Forest National Park

About the drifts or "round-ups" and where to find 2022 dates and locations to avoid 

Sally Fear photo of pony drift, rider Steve KitcherUpdated 30 September

Ed 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 began last month and continue throughout September, keep an eye out for latest dates and locations by checking the links below.

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. See below for more information...

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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.” 

2022 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. 

Please check for locations as they become published:

Latest information on the Verderers website: https://www.verderers.org.uk/announcements/advanced-warning-of-pony-drifts/

The Verderers are providing advance notice of upcoming pony drifts as follows:-

Friday 30th September – Wootton Brownhills, Wootton Bridge, Broadley, Yew Tree Bottom, Longslade Heath and Horseshoe Bottom Car Parks will be closed for the duration of the drift.

Sunday 2nd October – Ober Ober Corner car park and the Cycle Route from Ober Corner to Black Knowl and Hursthill before the New Park Entrance will all be closed for the duration of the drift.

Tuesday 4th October - Car parks will be shut at Longslade Heath, Horseshoe Bottom, Longslade Bottom, Longslade View, Yew Tree Bottom, Wootton Bridge and Setthorns.

Friday 7th October - Ashurst

Forestry England reminds visitors to the area to not park on verges, along access tracks or in gateways and to use alternative car parks.

Advance notice of drifts and car park closures 

Information also on the Forestry England website: https://www.forestryengland.uk/article/new-forest-car-park-closure - 

Reporting an incident

Please also make a note of this page on the Verderers website in case 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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