HUNDREDS of “travellers” riding ponies have descended on New Forest to take part in the biggest horse drive in England.
The Danny Cooper New Forest Drive, a traditional family event that has been running for over 20 years, sees hundreds of riders make their way across Hampshire to the drive.
Every August, people travel from Totton, near Southampton, Hants, through the national park.
The journey takes them onto Balmer Lawn in Brockenhurst and ends back at the Cooper’s home in Totton – where they have a party with music, singers and a DJ.
Visitors can buy and sell horses, harnesses and dogs at the event, named after Mr Cooper – a 75-year retired market gardener who used to grow strawberries.
His daughter, Tracey Cooper, 50, who owns a burger van which she takes to local events and horse shows, now organises the event.
She said: “It’s my dad’s drive. He started it with a few friends – about 25 people – now hundreds come.
“We have it every year from our family home and we try to keep it as well organised as possible.
“We had people arrive here a fortnight ago from all over the country and some still haven’t left today.
“Last year we were really busy because the weather was better. There were a lot of horses this weekend – I had to let them all out.
“At each stop, we make sure the horses rest for two hours, unlike other drives and is family-oriented.
“We like the horses to be well-rested and we take them in the river to wash them off.
“We don’t let the riders keep making the horses walk or run up and down.
“Horses are sold at the event – my dad bought a grey mare and put it in his stables this morning.”