As the car parks are reopening today in the forest, Oliver has a message for you.
My name is Oliver. I live here in the New Forest with my mum and my Aunties. I spend my days playing with my friends and snoozing in the sun, my legs are too long and my neck too short to graze yet so mum still feeds me. I am learning about the world around me and I am wide eyed and inquisitive, but I have to be careful. My family have told me tales about areas in the forest where ponies are drawn into a bad way of life. I hear that these ponies are addicted to human food, and are encouraged to feed from the hand. It isn't their fault, they don't know any different but these ponies no longer forage for themselves, they hang around in groups and look for there next hit of ham sandwiches and mars bars. I have been told, these ponies are aggressive and try to eliminate their competition for the next feed, whether it is another pony, donkey, cow or human.
When they hurt a human they get taken away in a trailer. It is kind of like being in prison for a pony who had the chance to live wild with their friends. There is also the fear that the same sad souls feel such a draw to human contact through their addiction they would wonder into the path of busy roads to feed from a car window. Inevitably leading to death or injury.
I am lucky. My family keep me safe from the "petting zoo" areas. I live in the safety of the trees in the forest and when I see people and they take my photo, I may even give a pose, but if they get too close, mum encourages me into the cover of the canopy. I am still learning about this world and told the best way of survival is to live a wild, natural life. So please look into my eyes and ask yourself, what life you would want for me? I don't want to become an aggressive, territorial addict, I want to graze the lands, roll in the mud and gallop in the wind. This will only happen if humans keep their distance, take home their rubbish and drive carefully. Please will you do this for me, my friends and family.
Love Oliver 💖