Today’s Horse Facts: The New Forest Pony – An Unusual Mark

If you cross the Atlantic Ocean and travel to the area of New Forest in Hampshire, southern England, you’ll find where the New Forest Ponies originated and still live today.

The New Forest Pony: An Unusual Mark

(Go to to see a picture of this equine)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Against such there is no law.”

(Galatians 5:22-23)

If you cross the Atlantic Ocean and travel to the area of New Forest in Hampshire, southern England, you’ll find where the New Forest Ponies originated and still live today. For several thousand years, they’ve been known as one of the most recognized mountain and native equines in the British Isles. As with many pony breeds, New Forest Ponies started their careers as “pit ponies” in mines. Fortunately because of their gentle nature, intelligence, and versatility, they soon became a favorite pet outside the mines. Today the New Forest Pony and similar crossbreeds are still the folks of that region’s favorite choice for getting a hard job done.

Although their height is only about 12 to 14.2 hands, they’re strong, surefooted, hard workers and great for trail riding. Many of these equines are so strong, adults as well as children can ride the taller ones. The ponies also can be driven in harness competition and sometimes even win against larger horses. New Forest ponies also are used today for dressage, gymkhanas, show jumping, cross-country, dressage, and eventing (considered the most demanding of races for both horse and rider. It originated with well-trained cavalry horses, which had to cover rough terrain and obstacles while running at full speed.)

New Forest Ponies are usually bay, chestnut, or gray. They can’t be piebald, skewbald, nor blue-eyed cream, and only geldings and mares can be registered if they are palomino or very light chestnut. They may have white markings on their head and lower legs, but they can’t have white behind the head, above the hock on either hind leg, or above the knee in either one of the front legs.

What’s so interesting about these ponies is they graze freely on the New Forest territory and are owned collectively by New Forest commoners. Those people, under the direction of five agisters (managers or caretakers), have specific rights to a certain section of the Hampshire pastures. However, the people must pay a fee to turn out their ponies to graze. In this “semi-feral” condition, thousands of New Forest Pony mares and a few geldings run loose most of the year. The stallions must be registered to keep the line pure and are turned out only for a limited period in the spring and summer during breeding season.

The success of this program is due to the agisters, who take responsibility for the ponies. Every year, they have a round-up and check each pony’s health. Then they worm and “tail-mark” each one. Tail-marking is the cutting of the pony’s tail in a specific pattern unique to each agister. The tails are cut either in three jagged steps to the left or the right, in cuts on both sides half way up the tail, or with a cut half way up the tail to the right. By looking at any pony’s tail, you can immediately identify the agister who cared for that equine and his region of New Forest. If you’d see any of these ponies, you might chuckle at the way the tails are cut.

The New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society has been publishing the stud book since 1960. New Forest ponies have been exported all over the world, including to Canada, the U.S., Europe, and Australia. Many other countries have their own New Forest Breed societies and stud books. As of 2011, there were 4,604 ponies grazing on the New Forest. In 2014, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) conservation group listed the New Forest pony as a minority breed because less than 3,000 breeding females were documented.

Regardless of the numbers of New Forest Ponies in the world today, they can be immediately identified by their tail markings. Those unique tails tell everyone the agister who marked them and from what part of New Forest they came. That mark or strange way of identification lets everyone know these proud ponies are from Hampshire, southern England.

Speaking of marks or identifications, can others tell you are a Christian by the “marks of the Lord Jesus” on your life?

If you’re a Christian, you should have the marks that identify a Christian. Those marks are called the “fruits of the spirit”: love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness are some of those marks. The Holy Spirit helps you develop those excellent character traits when you’re willing to follow His commands.

As you grow in your Christian faith, those around you will notice the “new you,” and will identify you as a young person with the marks of a true Christian.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me be willing to obey so that I can have the fruits of the Holy Spirit and have the marks of a Christian on my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

SADDLE UP!   (What would God have you do now?)

Think of three fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and how you can display those “marks” to those around you. (Example: Love – I can write my mother or teacher a note, thanking them for loving and helping me):

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  If a pony fits all the qualifications of a New Forest, but he has blue eyes, he can’t be registered.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17 NKJV).






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