Warning over wild ponies

VISITORS to Hampshire's New Forest are being urged not to approach the famous ponies.

Leaflets are being distributed by the Forestry Commission in a new campaign, warning that the ponies should not be touched or fed and of the dangers of coming between a mare and her foal.

The commission said young children were particularly vulnerable. 'When a pony has been given half a sandwich, it will quickly come back for the other half.'

The leaflets tell people to watch for the body language of the 3,500 ponies who graze in the New Forest, which is visited by about 8 million people a year. The most common danger sign is when a pony's ears are laid back towards the neck, indicating annoyance.

If this is ignored, it may be repeated with more intensity, with the mouth slightly open. 'If these messages still don't work, then the pony may kick or bite,' the leaflets warn.