Sally Fear pony drift rider Steve Kitcher
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New Forest 2023 pony drifts - details and dates

Pony Drifts in the New Forest National Park

About the pony drifts or "round-ups", including 2023 dates and locations to avoid 

Updated 24 August 2023

This year's pony drifts have just begun and continue this year into early November, keep an eye out for latest dates and locations - see 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...

Sally Fear photo of drift rider Steve Kitcher

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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.

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. 

 

2023 drifts and other useful information

Please check for locations as they become published or updated:

Latest information on the Verderers website: https://www.verderers.org.uk/announcements/drift-list-2023/

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-closures -

It's best to check the link above for updates.

As at 24 August this was the list:

DateLocationCycle RouteCar Park
Sunday 27 August Backley    
Wednesday 30 August Hale / Turf Hill  
  • Telegraph Hill
  • Turf Hill
Friday 1 September Broomy
  • Across Broomy Plain
  • Ocknell Pond
  • Cadnam's Pool
  • Spring Bushes
Sunday 3 September Dur Hill    
Wednesday 6 September Latchmoor, Brockenhurst
  • Old railway line section
  • Shirley Holms
  • Longslade View
  • Longslade Bottom
  • Setley Pond
Friday 8 September Beaulieu Road / Culverley  
  • Beaulieu Road
  • Yew Tree Heath
  • Northgate
  • Kings Hat
Sunday 10 September Hilltop / Hardley
  • Ipers Bridge to Kings Copse track
  • Dibden
  • Moonhills
Wednesday 13 September Woodgreen / Godshill  
  • Godshill Wood
  • Ashley Walk
  • Godshill Pit
Friday 15 September Slufters  
  • Ocknell Pond
Sunday 17 September Beaulieu Aerodrome
  • Rans Wood to Hawkhill
  • Beaulieu Aerodrome
  • Roundhill
  • Ladycross
  • Beaulieu Heath
  • Ranswood
  • Bull Hill
  • Crockford
  • Stockley
  • Norleywood
Tuesday 19 September Wilverley / Markway  
  • Longslade Heath
  • Wilverley Pit
  • Wilverley Plain
  • Wilverley Inclosure
  • Hincheslea Moor
Saturday 23 September Blackfield / Hilltop
  • Kings Copse cycle track
  • Moonhills
  • Blackwell Common
Sunday 24 September Burley Lawn / Burley Rocks  
  • Mill Lawn
  • Woods Corner
  • Clayhill
  • Lucy Hill
Tuesday 26 September Penn Common    
Friday 29 September Weirs, Brockenhurst
  • North Weirs track
  • School Green
  • Beechern Wood
  • Whitefield Moor
  • Whitemoor Pond
Sunday 1 October East Boldre  
  • Bull Hill
  • Norley Wood
  • Crockford
  • Crockford Clump
  • Beaulieu Heath
  • Hatchet Moor
Wednesday 4 October Turf Hill / Telegraph Hill  
  • Turf Hill
  • Telegraph Hill
Friday 6 October Wootton  
  • Brownhills
  • Wootton Bridge
  • Broadley
Sunday 8 October Ober
  • Ober corner to Black Knowl
  • Hursthill before New Park entrance
  • Ober Corner
Tuesday 10 October Longslade  
  • Longslade Heath
  • Horseshoe Bottom
  • Longslade Bottom
  • Longslade View
  • Yew Tree Bottom
  • Wootton Bridge
  • Setthorns
Friday 13 October Ashurst    
Sunday 15 October Balmer Lawn
  • Lady Cross to Railway line
  • Roundhill campsite
  • Hollands Wood sections
  • Tilery Road
  • Clayhill Heath
Tuesday 17 October Lyndhurst Racecourse  
  • Parc Pale
  • Bolton's Bench
Friday 20 October Stoney Cross  
  • Stoney Cross
  • Ocknell Pond
  • Janesmoor
Sunday 22 October Furzey Lodge
  • Rans Wood to Hawkhill
  • Beaulieu Aerodrome 
  • Beaulieu Heath
  • Ranswood
  • Ivy Wood
  • Crockford
  • Stockley
  • Norleywood
Tuesday 24 October Pondhead  
  • Boltons Bench
  • Parc Pale
Friday 27 October Amberwood / Turf Hill  
  • Turfhill
Sunday 29 October Withybeds  
  • Bratley View
  • Andrews Mare
  • Canada Cross
Tuesday 31 October Picket Post / Linford
  • Picket Post to Bratley View
  • Picket Post to A31 
  • Picket Post
  • Linford Bottom
Sunday 5 November Holmsley
  • Holmsley Walk to campsite
  • Holmsley

Reporting an incident

To report Road Traffic Accidents involving Forest stock (ponies, cattle, pigs, sheep and donkeys) - ring the Police on 999.

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

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

There are numbers to call during and out of office hours should you come across a sick, injured or dead pony, cow, donkey, pig or sheep (other than an RTA)

02380 282052 OFFICE HOURS

0300 067 4600 AFTER HOURS

Photos by Sally Fear

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.

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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