New Forest drifts: 2017 dates and where to avoid

Drifts in the New Forest National Park.

Dates and locations to avoid due to pony round-ups.


2015 Fritham drift by New Forest CommonerThe​ ​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​ ​the​ ​animals.

In​ ​The​ ​New​ ​Forest,​ ​Drifts​ ​are​ ​organised​ ​in​ ​the​ ​autumn​ ​to​ ​check​ ​on​ ​the​ ​health​ ​and​ ​well​ ​being​ ​of the​ ​ponies.​ ​Over​ ​30​ ​drifts​ ​happen​ ​in​ ​Forest​ ​each​ ​year​ ​with​ ​a​ ​small​ ​area​ ​done​ ​at​ ​a​ ​time.​ ​This helps​ ​Commoners​ ​(the​ ​owners​ ​of​ ​the​ ​stock)​ ​to​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​check​ ​the​ ​ponies​ ​that​ ​are​ ​brought​ ​in. Not​ ​every​ ​pony​ ​comes​ ​in,​ ​the​ ​main​ ​aim​ ​is​ ​to​ ​get​ ​mares​ ​with​ ​foals.​ ​The​ ​5​ ​agisters​ ​of​ ​the​ ​New Forest​ ​constantly​ ​monitor​ ​the​ ​animals​ ​to​ ​make​ ​sure​ ​they​ ​are​ ​fit​ ​and​ ​healthy,​ ​anything​ ​looking poor​ ​is​ ​taken​ ​by​ ​the​ ​owner​ ​back​ ​to​ ​they​ ​small​ ​holding​ ​at​ ​any​ ​time​ ​throughout​ ​the​ ​year.​ ​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​ ​every​ ​pony​ ​in. Each​ ​pony​ ​is​ ​checked, wormed​ ​and​ ​has​ ​it's​ ​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


Agisiter landrover roundup in progress by New Forest CommonerFollowing​ ​two​ ​incidents​ ​in​ ​2012​ ​when​ ​members​ ​of​ ​the​ ​public​ ​unwittingly​ ​became​ ​involved​ ​in​ ​a pony​ ​drift,​ ​as​ ​part​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Verderers​ ​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. Al​though​ ​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​ ​are​ ​urged​ ​to avoid​ ​each​ ​area​ ​on​ ​the​ ​day​ ​of​ ​the​ ​drift.”


Upcoming Drift Dates


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 next drifts will take place on:

  • Thursday 22nd September at Brockenhurst Weirs
  • Saturday 24th September at East Boldre 
  • Tuesday 26th September at Appleslade
  • Friday 29th September at Wootton
  • Sunday 1st October at Ober. 

More information can be found on Shared Forest and at www.newforestcommoners.com.

Any future drift dates will be advised on http://www.verderers.org.uk



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