New Forest Night Mares’ aim to raise awareness of pony deaths

A group of women walked 26.2 miles through London wearing high-vis pony ears and tails to raise awareness of the deaths of horses and other livestock on roads in the New Forest.

The 18 women, who called themselves the New Forest Night Mares, were taking part in the Moon Walk, a night-time marathon event that raises money for breast cancer charity Walk the Walk.

Night Mares’ organiser Juliet Nicholas, who grew up in the forest, said she had wanted to take part in the fundraiser but also saw it as an opportunity to highlight needless pony fatalities.

“Shortly before we took part in the walk, there was another foal hit and killed that was just days old,” she said. “We thought we could go out wearing high-vis and help draw attention to the problem.”

A former professional showjumper, Juliet once worked for Stephen Whitaker but has spent more than half her life calling the forest home.

“I no longer ride but both myself and my daughters went through the New Forest Pony Club,” she said. “Some of our walkers are very horsey and do ride, and having had horses all my life I am very focused on the plight of our lovely ponies.

“Just today I had to stop my car as I came across someone stroking a foal out of their car window. I had to explain that it would encourage the foals to approach cars and they could then get hit. We need to raise awareness and make people understand,” she said.

Juliet, who works as a Pilates teacher based near Beaulieu, said that even during the group’s training walks, she had been shocked at the speed some motorists travelled.

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“I was gobsmacked how vulnerable we felt,” she said, “You could feel the wind from the wing mirrors as they whipped past — and we are humans, who you think drivers would be more cautious.”

The group has so far raised almost £20,000 for the cancer charity through fundraising pages.

“The money all goes into breast cancer charities but we continue to beat the drum on the livestock situation,” Juliet added. “Breast cancer is so common, I think every one knows someone who has been affected by it.

“While we were training for the walk, one of our group was diagnosed and had to have a lump removed, followed by radiotherapy, but she was back out walking with us two weeks later.”

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