Commoning: cooperation and coordination

When I go onto the Forest check on my mares I check on the other ponies too.

When I go onto the Forest to check on my mares I also check on the other ponies too.

The practice of commoning on the New Forest is generally a very sociable enterprise. The support and cooperation of other commoners is essential for maintaining the welfare of the free-roaming stock. When I go out on the Forest I always check on other commoner’s animals as well as my own and I know that they will be doing the same for me. My mares are running in a herd with ponies that belong to several other owners. The ponies will stay in the same area or ‘haunt’ so I know the territory that they maintain, however I don’t get to see my mares every day. Often one of the other commoners will tell me that my girls have been seen in a particular place at a particular time, so I know that others are keeping an eye on them too. This informal level of support is very reassuring and is naturally accepted as a reciprocal arrangement.

At other times, such as during the autumn drifts, the level of cooperation is much more coordinated and purposeful. The Agisters organise the round-ups and commoners, either mounted or on foot, help to process the herds of ponies that are brought in. I haven’t yet worked my way up to actually riding on a drift, so I am grateful to the riders who recently rounded-up my two mares and the other commoners on foot who herded them into the pound. When they were driven into the chute for processing I was able to get them fitted with florescent collars and also administer a good dose of wormer, to rid them of internal parasites, once again with the help of the Agister and other commoners.

Recently though I actually had a summons for help! One of my commoner friends had a cow in distress and needed to bring her in for the vet. After a brief phone call asking me to come quickly I leapt into action and fifteen minutes later was in a chain of people helping to herd a sick cow off the Forest and onto it’s owners holding. The cow was suffering from mastitis; a potentially fatal infection of the udder, which thankfully had been caught in time. Mastitis can be caused by an invasion of bacteria or an injury to the udder – even an adder bite, which would not be unusual for the New Forest. The vet prescribed a course of antibiotics and predicted that the cow, whose name was Cucumber, would make a full recovery. In typical commoner fashion mugs filled with tea were offered round and, with the emergency over, a social networking opportunity was quickly taken advantage of.

Cows are also commonable animals and roam freely on the New Forest.

Cows are also commonable animals and roam freely on the New Forest.

About newforestcommoner

Keeping the history, ecology and cultural traditions of the New Forest alive through practice of 'commoning'. Sharing information about #NewForest & #commoning.
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