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Drifts in the New Forest National Park.

2020 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​ ​of the​ ​animals.

In​ ​the​ ​New​ ​Forest,​ ​the​ ​5​ ​Agisters​ ​who between them cover the entire forest area, ​constantly​ ​monitor​ ​the​ ​animals​ ​to​ ​make​ ​sure​ ​they​ ​are​ ​fit​ ​and​ ​healthy. Any animal​ ​looking poor​ ​may be taken off the forest at​ ​any​ ​time​ ​throughout​ ​the​ ​year​ ​and it is then the Commoner's (owner's) responsibility to take it ​back​ ​to​ ​their​ ​smallholding​. ​

Drifts​ ​are​ ​organised​ ​in​ ​the​ ​autumn​ ​to​ round up and ​check​ ​on​ ​the​ ​health​ ​and​ ​well​ ​being​ ​of all the​ ​ponies.​ ​Over​ ​30​ ​drifts​ ​happen​ ​in the​ ​Forest​ ​each​ ​year​ ​with​ ​a​ ​small​ ​area​ ​covered​ ​at​ ​a​ ​time.​ ​This helps​ the ​Commoners,​ who are the ​owners​ ​of​ ​the​ ​ponies, ​to​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​check​ ​the ​animals​​ ​brought​ ​in to their own location and also to help each other. 

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​ ​each​ ​one​ ​in. The​ ​main​ ​aim​ ​is​ ​to​ ​gather the​ ​mares​ ​with​ ​foals.​ ​Each​ ​pony​ ​is​ ​checked, wormed​ ​, and​ ​has​ ​its​ ​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​ ​Verderer's​ ​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. Although​ ​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​ ​is​ ​urged​ ​to avoid​ ​each​ ​area​ ​on​ ​the​ ​day​ ​of​ ​the​ ​drift.” 

2020 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 2020 planned drift days are as below.

Drift list

More information can be found at https://www.realnewforest.org/about/you-the-forest/ and https://www.verderers.org.uk/news/pony-drifts-2020/

 

 

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