Spring is in the air in the New Forest area of England! Eighteen New Forest stallions have been released during prime breeding season in the hopes these carefully selected studs will improve the quality of the herd.

The 18 stallions were approved by judges who assessed things such as conformation, movement, and bloodlines. According to the BBC, “the ponies are owned by commoners who live in properties with ancient rights attached, dating back to the 11th century, allowing them to graze livestock on the open forest.”

The New Forest Pony is considered “at risk” and is one of a few native UK breeds that have been under threat. The Dartmoor Pony and Exmoor Pony are two others that face similar dwindling numbers, and whose breeding associations are trying other methods to increase the gene pool.

While this type of program isn’t new, what will be introduced into the 2023 season is a hefty £1,000 fine ($1,700 CDN) for anyone caught petting a wild pony. Visitors are also discouraged from walking through pony herds and are instructed to keep dogs under control at all times when near the ponies.