Concerns have been raised about the “incredibly low” prices New Forest ponies have been fetching at the sales – despite efforts to reduce the number of foals produced.

Robyn Purvis of the Ellanore Stud told H&H she was “shocked” to see colt foals at the Beaulieu Road Pony Sales (15 September) selling for as little as 10 guineas, with many fillies going for less than 25gns.

“We paid 165 guineas for our foundation mare 18 years ago as a foal. The prices this year are just terrible,” she said.

Many foals went back to their breeders, unsold.

Shirley Young, of the New Forest Pony Publicity Group – set up to raise the value and profile of the breed – told H&H the prices were “not normal”.

“We’re fighting against the economic situation,” she said. “Colts usually fetch upwards of 50 guineas, fillies 90 to 120.”

She said it was unlikely they were going for meat because of the costs involved.

“It costs as much to process a hunter as a pony foal,” she said.

For the past few years, the New Forest verderers (who manage the forest) have only turned the stallions out for one month a year in an attempt to reduce the number of foals.

But Mrs Young said some commoners (people with grazing rights to the forest) had their mares covered privately.

She urged them to restrict their breeding activities and “focus on quality not quantity”.

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (29 September, 2011)