So we're back from a wonderful weekend. We're refreshed and well rested from all the clean unpolluted air of the forest consumed. We didn't rush around, we enjoyed watching the children play together, cooked gorgeous dinners drank an impressive amount of Cava, fought off the rain to BBQ some delicious steaks and proper meaty sausages bought at Lymington Market. Blissful!
As we were driving through the forest the feeling of an ancient, lunar landscape is quite overwhelming, I can't imagine that much has changed here. In 1079 William The Conqueror named the area 'his new hunting forest'. He established a system that would protect and maintain the woodlands which is still in place today by the Verderers, Agisters and commoners. The horses, donkeys and cows roam freely often crossing roads impeding drivers from advancing. They belong to the people of the New Forest that own land there.
This is what it says on the New Forest Website about just how wild these unique ponies are 'All of the ponies found in the forest are wild in the sense they can roam freely but in fact they are owned by New Forest Commoners. A commoner is defined as someone who owns or occupies land to which rights of common are assigned. The rights are attached to the holding rather than to its owner. There are six common rights in the forest, with the Common of Pasture being the most important one. The right is free but the practising commoner has to pay an annual marking fee in respect of each animal to pay towards the cost of employing the agisters. Commoners are also required to brand depastured animals, the individual owners' marks being registered with the Verderers.'
Do remember if you go looking for the ponies that you can incur a fine and a criminal record if you feed them. Also despite their cuteness they are not tame so can kick and bite wandering hands.
Sadly the weather wasn't favourable to long adventurous walks in the forest with two toddlers and a baby so instead we took a long drive on Sunday, and this is a small selection of what we came across: