Vicious dog attack on New Forest pony
An Australian cattle dog has been pictured attacking a New Forest pony as wardens of the celebrated national park urged walkers to keep their pets on a lead.
Photographs emerged of the dog, which was allowed off its lead, attacking a mare at Wilverley Plain, which is popular with dog walkers.
The dog can be seen baring its teeth as it chases after the horse - which had to kick out at the animal.
The New Forest Commoners Defence Association, which seeks to protect the historic rights to graze animals in the area, said there is a growing problem of dogs terrorising livestock and scaring away nesting birds at the national park.
It has been home to the world-famous New Forest ponies since the end of the last Ice Age and the animals roam free in the area.
Around 3,000 cattle and 5,000 ponies roam free in Hampshire's New Forest during the summer months, with dog owners asked to keep their pets on a lead and give livestock a wide berth.
The livestock are released onto the open heathland by the forest 'commoners,' local residents who hold the right to graze their animals on the land.
The incident comes after an NFU Mutual survey of over 1,100 dog owners found two thirds of owners admit they let their dog roam off-lead in the countryside.
The New Forest Commoners Defence Association said the number of dog attacks on livestock was growing.
Andrew Norton, a local farmer and chairman of the group, said: 'It's certainly becoming more of a problem nationally, and indeed here in The Forest.
'The majority are very good, it's just a small minority that causes the problems.
'It doesn't matter how cute and fluffy your dog is, it will chase if livestock run away from it, I think it's an in-bred pack instinct, and people need to be aware of it.
'If you come across livestock while out walking, please put your dog on a lead and give them a wide berth.
'There can be lots of foals around at this time a year which will be running around having fun, and there is also a danger of dogs scaring off nesting birds at this time of year, people need to be sensible.
'The New Forest is huge, there's plenty of space here for all of us.
'Luckily the mare involved is okay and she didn't need any vet treatment, New Forest ponies are tough.'
The photographer who captured the incident was walking in the forest with three friends when he saw a dog run out from the woods towards a grazing pony.
The photographer, who didn't want to be named, said: 'The dog approached the pony and really started barking at it.
'We think it might have been an Australian cattle dog, a breed which bites at the ankles of livestock to make them move.
'The pony moving got the dog more excited and it started barking and barking at it.
'Eventually the owners came over very nonchalantly and after a while, managed to get the dog away.
'The whole incident lasted five minutes, it must have been five minutes of terror for the pony.'