A shocking viral video showing a mare jumping over an open car door on the New Forest after ponies became aggressive has highlighted the dangerous consequences of the public feeding horses.
The video, filmed in November last year, shows a herd of ponies surrounding cars at Cadnam Cricket car park. As the ponies become aggressive towards each other, a mare tries to escape by jumping over the car door, where she becomes stuck but manages to free herself.
Commoner Jacqui Vanderhoek, who owns the mare, Zammy, told H&H she was made aware of the video when it was sent to her husband Tony the day after it was shared online.
“I was shocked, I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “Zammy got stuck on the door and it looked like she was going to break her leg. You then see her come back to the car sniffing for food.
“I don’t know if the people who filmed the video had fed the ponies and it got out of control, or if they turned up after someone had fed them, or if they just filmed it for entertainment.”
It is understood the car owner, who filmed the video, had not fed the ponies and they were attracted to his car by the smell of baby food. He said he was in support of signs being put up asking the public not to feed the ponies.
Jacqui said when she went to check Zammy, who was not injured in the incident, she found the mare being fed apples by a group of teenagers.
“It’s depressing. We never feed our ponies by hand, they are only fed from a bucket on the ground, but since being fed by people Zammy has started biting,” she said.
“Last weekend when we went to check the ponies we found one of our other mares Anna choking. She was drooling and we couldn’t clear it so we had to get the vet. All the ponies smelt strongly of savoury pies, and we’ve since been told that large quantities of human food is being dumped in bushes.”
Jacqui raised the video of Zammy at the virtual Verderers Court, a statutory body that governs the management of the livestock on the New Forest, last month in the hope of raising public awareness.
“We check our ponies every day and there are rangers on the forest doing checks but we can’t watch them 24 hours a day. You see people chucking food out of cars, or parents letting their children feed the ponies, it’s like they think they’re in a safari park,” she said.
“I’ve tried to educate people and ask them very politely not to feed the ponies but they wait for you to leave and carry on. I haven’t got the power to do anything about it and I’m worried this problem is going to erupt when lockdown is lifted if we don’t get the message across.”
New Forest head agister Jonathan Gerrelli told H&H the video highlights the dangers that can arise through something that people might see as an “innocent pastime”.
Article continued below…
“The public feeding horses has become a daily problem here; it’s not just carrots and apples, it’s grass cuttings and
“For someone to go to the police on me for that — I’d happily to go court about it”
“People think by giving a piece of bread or carrot to a pony ‘what harm can it do?’, and this video shows the harm it does do. It puts them the animal in danger, it puts the person in danger and it’s something people should not be doing,” he said.
“We all know when you have ponies in a herd situation they have a pecking order and they can become quite boisterous and aggressive among themselves around food – and they can become quite demanding and aggressive to people too.
“We have had one or two nasty accidents where people have been bitten and kicked by ponies or donkeys that have been fed, and it’s simply because they become used to being fed by people and as soon as they see the next person with a bag they’re across there thinking they’re going to get another carrot. There are real consequences involved and it can escalate into a big problem very quickly.”
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade to access our H&H Plus online service which brings you breaking news as it happens as well as other benefits.