Sunbathing Wild Ponies on the Long Mynd
December was a very wet and windy month, and there weren’t many opportunities to get out of the city for a walk. Ed and I went for a few muddy walks in Sutton Park as we always do, but we didn’t bother going further afield whilst the weather was so bad. This weekend, the worst of the rain cleared and we were forecast a couple of days of sunshine. We made the most of it and went for a walk in the Shropshire Hills where we saw a large band of ponies grazing and napping in the sunshine on the southern side of the Long Mynd, together with several sweet little foals.
As always when I share photos of wild or feral ponies or horses, I feel it’s important to say that these photos were taken with a long lens, at a respectful distance from them, and with care so as not to block their path or make them feel like they were being cornered. The Shropshire Hills ponies are far too tame for their own good, and much more tame than other communities of feral horses I have encountered across England and Wales. This is because people feed them by hand from their car windows, I see it every time I’m in the hills. On several occasions as I was crouched down photographing them, ponies started walking towards me, thinking I had food. This is not normal behaviour for a feral horse. Feral or semi-wild horses are naturally wary of humans and like to keep their distance. I put my camera down and walked away from them whenever they approached me to discourage them.
If you’ve stumbled upon this post because you’ve seen the feral horses up on the Shropshire Hills, please do be careful around them. Give them their space, let them graze and browse the land in a natural manner – it’s much healthier for them than giving them human food like carrots, crisps, and chocolate – and resist the urge to try and stroke or touch them. They’re cute, I know they are, but if they’re too tame they will hang out near roads and be more at risk of being hit by cars, as has happened in the New Forest in recent months. Rich food can also give them colic, making them very unwell. What seems like a kindness, often isn’t.
At any rate, I don’t want to be a killjoy. I just love the ponies and want them to be well. I know that my blog posts often surface in search engines whenever people first encounter these wonderful animals on walks in upland areas, so like to pass the message on about how to look out for them and ensure they remain happy, healthy, and as wild as possible.