A few years ago, a story made the rounds on the internet about the New Forest Pony being listed on the U.K.’s Rare Breeds Survival Trust , along with Clydesdale and Shire horses.
Then, author Michelle Holland approached me about appearing here on the blog as she releases her second book for young adults.
New Forest ponies are a breed with a registry and a long history but many are also living and roaming in the New Forest, and a part of British culture since the end of the last Ice Age, according to the New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society.
About 3,000 ponies reportedly roam the New Forest of southern England, but they’re not wild, technically. The New Forest website talks about how they’re owned by “commoners” — think “Boston Commons,” for a starter image — and graze on common lands.
How Michelle got started
“I became passionate about pony rescue 24 years ago after taking on a neglected New Forest pony who I called Bella,” Michelle said. “What really touched my heart and was priceless was the transformation over a one year period. After some hard work and understanding, Bella turned into a healthy & trusting pony.”
The breed history mentions how New Forest Ponies were highly regarded as war horses for centuries.
I suspect the verders and agisters who manage the ponies may be overwhelmed with an estimated population of 3,000 roaming ponies.
From war horses and valued stock to nuisances?
Michelle also talks about the New Forest Pony rescue she created twenty years ago:
“In 1995 when I decided to start up Polegate Pony Rescue Trust, there was so much in the press about New Forest ponies going for slaughter and being sold to hunts for meat. I could buy foals for as little as 4 Guineas from the New Forest Sales. I could buy a mare for 20 Guineas. It was truly awful.”
After a few years, she says she handed over the reins of the rescue with a sizable donation.
How the real life ponies inspire Michelle’s books
Michelle says her most recent book THE ADVENTURES OF BELLA ANSD EMILY has a lot of scenes in it that are actually true, “whether it was her,” she adds, “or some of the things the cheeky foals got up to.”
In her first book also published a book called SHELLY FINDS HER DREAM PONY CHELSEA, Michelle cast her own New Forest Pony Chelsea, who also is the inspiration for Bella.
For more information about Michelle and her books, see her website.