Horse Isle 3: Big Book of Breeds
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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: New Forest Pony (NFP)   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The New Forest Pony is a British pony breed, which is named after the New Forest area in Hampshire, England, from which it originated, and where it still roams.

Ponies have roamed the woodlands and bogs of New Forest since the last Ice Age. In 1016, the residents of New Forest received rights for the ponies that grazed in the area. They started to breed the ponies, and over the next few centuries they crossed them with Thoroughbred, Arabian, Hackney, and Welsh horses, as well as with Fell, Dales, Highland, Dartmoor, and Exmoor ponies. The practice of crossbreeding lasted until 1930, when it was decided to keep the New Forest Pony a pure breed.

Today, only mares and geldings still roam in the land of New Forest all year round. The stallions, on the other hand, are released into the forest only in the summer, during which they breed with the mares, before being brought back to the stables until the next year. Any pony who was born to two New Forest Ponies is defined as a New Forest Pony, but only ponies who were born in the forest itself are defined as Forest-Bred New Forest Ponies.

New Forest Ponies play a major role in the ecosystem of the forest, since they affect its architecture, and are responsible for the survival many of its plants and animals. For example, by eating the dominant types of grass, the ponies prevent the forest from overgrowing, and clear enough space for other species of plants to grow. In addition, when the ponies walk by the streams in the forest, they leave watery hoofprints in the ground, which serve as habitats for various types of insects.

Several times a year, all of the ponies and the foals are rounded up for inspection. Their health is checked, they get vaccinated and dewormed if necessary, their tails are marked, new foals are branded and registered, and young stallions are gelded. Through this process, the ponies learn to stay relaxed when they are touched and handled by humans. At the end of each such session, the ponies are set free to roam the forest again, with the exception of ponies who are too weak to do so, stallions who will be used as sires next year, and ponies who have buyers.

Originally, New Forest Ponies were used for racing, but today they are usually used for point-to-point races, gymkhana, dressage, and show-jumping, in which they excel thanks to their natural jumping talent. In addition, because they are bred to have a calm and trusting nature, New Forest Ponies are also popular in therapeutic riding.

New Forest Ponies usually have a bay, brown, chestnut, grey, black, or roan coat, but additional colors can be found as well, except for piebald, skewbald, and blue-eyed cream. Stallions are forbidden from registration if they have a palomino coat. New Forest Ponies stand between 12hh and 14.2hh.

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