Thursday, 27 March 2014

Forest Ponies on a Cold Morning

On a recent chilly morning, I looked outside over the fence to see a little group of New Forest mares. Grass is beginning to grow again, but their winter diet of gorse and holly had brought them down to the old field hedge, to find holly leaves for breakfast.

The grey mare was right down in the ditch and rooting around in the undergrowth.

A return to colder winds and rain has delayed the coming of spring. Most of the trees on the hill are still bare and light catches the greens of lichen on branches of old wilding crab apples.

This group of young mares have been together since they were naturally weaned. I think they are rising four this spring. Non of them seem to be in foal, which is a relief as there are too many unwanted foals each autumn during these recessionary times.

The mare below is a niece of our New Forest pony Woody and her colouring and facial markings are similar. She also shares his friendly, inquisitive nature and came over to see me for a while.

She is growing a moustache to help her to cope with eating gorse, holly and brambles.

Life can be tough for the New Forest ponies, but this group of "Girls" are doing well after the return of a cold Blackthorn Winter.


Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

I know nothing about ponies. How does a moustache help protect against prickles?

WOL said...

Where is Chagford relative to you? I follow the blogs of some people who live in Chagford and the ponies visit them, too.

Ragged Robin said...

Beautiful photos of the New Forest ponies - thanks so much for sharing :)

Em Parkinson said...

I must keep a look out for a moustache on Trigger!

Crafty Green Poet said...

what lovely horses, interesting that some of them grow mustaches to protect against their prickly diets!

SeagullSuzie said...

Lovely to see these ponies

Jane the Booklady said...

I love your photos and the warm colours of the ponies that seem to fit them so well with their landscape. Jane xx

Dartford Warbler said...

Hello Lucy - The moustache on native ponies has evolved to help to stop the muzzle being cut and torn as they eat gorse, holly and brambles. A horse or pony with a softer diet will not need one and will have a soft, velvety nose and muzzle.

Hello WOL - in answer to your question. Chagford is in Devon, a coastal county further to the South West of us. It is part of Dartmoor where the native breed of Dartmoor Ponies live. These are the ones that feature on Em Parkinson`s blog, Dartmoor Rambles.

I live in the New Forest ( which is a mixture of woodland and sandy heathland) in Hampshire, in the centre of the South Coast of England. The New Forest also has feral ponies, owned by Commoners, grazing the ancient landscape.

On a map, the New Forest can be found between the city of Southampton and the seaside town of Bournemouth.

angryparsnip said...

I really enjoy when you post about the ponies.
And I love the mustache photo.

cheers, parsnip