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Pony sales get a boost in the New Forest
PONY owners in the New Forest are celebrating the completion of a £460,000 revamp that has transformed the sales yard.
The wooden corral next to Beaulieu Road railway station has been equipped with a huge roof that aims to protect buyers and spectators from the elements.
Previous improvements carried out over the past three years include the installation of mains water, toilets and a power supply.
Ponies are the “architects” of the Forest, munching their way through huge amounts of vegetation and preventing the area from becoming a wilderness.
Historic The semi-wild animals are owned by Commoners – people with the right to let their stock graze the ancient woods and heathland.
Improvements to the historic corral aim to boost commoning by encouraging more people to attend the sales, which are organised by the New Forest Livestock Society (NFLS).
NFLS chairman Lucinda Lang said: “Commoning has been instrumental in shaping the New Forest landscape, as well as its wildlife habits and cultural history.
“As well as being necessary for the landscape and economy of the Forest, the Beaulieu Road sales are one of the main social meeting and networking events for a wide range of people and organisations.”
There are thought to be between 500 and 600 active Commoners in the Forest.
Beaulieu Road is the main outlet for their animals, with about 750 sold each year. Every sale is attended by 800 buyers and spectators.
Money for the modernisation scheme was provided by the National Park Authority (NPA) and other Forest organisations, plus the EU.
Pony owners are hoping the improvements will be matched by a rise in the value of their animals.
Earlier this year it was revealed that falling demand for New Forest ponies had resulted in fewer stallions being turned out each year.
Experts are warning that the Forest’s most iconic symbol is now in danger of becoming a rare breed.
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