About The New Forest

New Forest National Park

Over 900 years ago William the Conqueror designated the New Forest as a royal forest and hunting ground.  Fast forward to Spring of 2005 and the New Forest was awarded National Park status, the first in England for many years and the first ever in the South East.

National Park status not only brings greater protection to help preserve this beautiful area but many more opportunities for us and future generations to understand and enjoy this special place.

It is hard to imagine the New Forest without its famous free ranging ponies. Each animal is owned by a commoner and must be marked with an individual brand before being left to wander the open forest. Anyone may become a commoner, the term simply refers to a person who owns or rents a property or plot of land to which privileges known as “rights of common” are attached.

Anyone owning or renting property with pasture rights attached is entitled to graze stock on the Forest.

More than 400 Commoners turn their cattle, pigs, ponies and donkeys out, while the Agisters police the heaths and woods, checking on the welfare of around 5000 animals all year round.

Before cars, the pony or horse was an important rural economy and the tradition of keeping them provided a valuable income. Today, rather than work horses, the demand is for riding ponies, and only a handful of commoners make their living keeping stock.