EVERY year at the end of the summer, the guardians of our New Forest round up thousands of ponies to be identified and inspected before the onset of winter.

This happens in a series of spectacular round-ups, known as drifts, a monumental exercise in equestrian housekeeping.

It’s a system which dates back to William the Conqueror, who created the hunting ground here.

And while pony drifts are a spectacular part of Forest life, the Verderers are urging people to stay away this year stating that they are not a “spectator sport”.

These annual drifts take place from mid-August to early November and give the commoners, who own the ponies, the chance to check the health of their animals, brand and tail-mark them and remove foals from their mothers.

With the owners and Agisters on horseback, drifts are an exciting part of country life. However, in 2012 several members of the public became caught up in them unawares and now the Verderers are urging people to avoid them.

• The drifts next week are:

Friday, September 5 at Beaulieu Road/Iron Arch

Sunday, September 7 at Woodfidley

Sunday, September 7 at Burley Rocks