A DRAMATIC picture has been released of the damage caused to a car after it was in an accident in which a New Forest pony was killed.

The Verderers, the organisation in charge of Forest stock, say the occupants of the VW Touareg were lucky not to have been killed or seriously injured.

The 4x4 was travelling along the B3078 Brook to Godshill road when the collision occurred.

A Verderers spokesman said: “A pony was killed and the occupants were lucky not to have been injured themselves. They were saved by the air bags and the size of the vehicle in which they were travelling.

“The force of the collision caused enormous damage. Had it been a smaller vehicle the collision could have had tragic consequences for the driver and their passengers.”

The Verderers have released the photograph as part of their campaign to highlight the potential consequences of animal accidents in the Forest.

A total of 65 animals were killed or injured between January 1 and the end of September, compared with 50 in the same period last year.

Another spate of accidents is expected to occur after October 27 when the clocks go back and commuters find themselves driving home in the dark for the first time in months.

The Verderers spokesman added: “With autumn upon us and the evenings drawing in, motorists are reminded to take extra care when driving across the Forest.

“It’s always a particularly dangerous time for Forest stock when the clocks go back. Motorists should adjust their speed to take account of the road conditions and the darker evenings.

“If a driver is involved in an accident or witnesses a collision they must call the police as soon as possible.

“Even if an animal runs off it may be seriously hurt or have internal injuries so it’s important that it is found and treated quickly.”