With only 300-400 purebred Eriskay Ponies left in existence, there’s a real risk that this ancient breed of Scottish pony will disappear forever. Classified as “critically endangered,” conservationists are fighting to protect and preserve their future.
While locals value the Eriskay Pony as a link to the Old Scotland, the rest of the world tends to overlook and undervalue this ancient breed. They’re often mistakenly classified as a type of Highland Pony, but careful research into the Eriskay Pony’s genetic makeup show it is indeed its own breed.
They are a solid, well-muscled pony standing between 12 and 13.2 hands high. Foals are born black, but most grey out with age. Despite their small stature, they are impressively strong and can carry lightweight adults with ease. They’re suitable for equine sports including dressage and show jumping, and many are trained for light draught work and driving. They’re also a great children’s mount due to their friendly and willing personalities.
For generations, the Eriskay Pony was an important part of life on the remote Scottish Isles. But by the mid-19th century, their population started a steep decline. Many local islanders moved to the mainland, and the pony’s regular jobs were replaced by technology. On many of the western islands, Eriskay Ponies were crossbred with larger breeds, and the purebred population dwindled. Today, there are dangerously few purebred Eriskay Ponies left in the world.
There are only 17 purebred Eriskay Ponies left on Eriskay Island. And off Eriskay, clusters of ponies can also be found on Holy Isle as well as mainland Scotland. A few have found their way to England and Wales.
While the Eriskay Pony population has increased since its all-time low, the population has remained stable. The Eriskay Pony Society lists only 7 licensed stallions. Their status as critically endangered means the breed’s survival depends on constant efforts for conservation.
You can read more about the Eriskay Pony on iHeartHorses.com.
Other names: Hebridean Pony — Each Beag nan Eilean
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