Skyros horse


conformation small, neat head, straight shoulders,
narrow body, small feet
colour bay, dun
height 9.1-11 hands
uses agriculture, packhorse

A race is on to save this breed of pony which exists only on the Greek island of Skyros, the largest and most remote of the Sporades Islands. No one knows how long these ponies have existed, although some believe they are the little equines depicted on the frieze of the Parthenon.

Skyros horse

Skyros horse

The pony resembles a scaled-down version of England’s Exrnoor pony displaying the same mealy muzzle and prominent ’toad’ eye. Skyros is an island of two halves, the north side fertile and lush, the south more mountainous and less hospitable. During the summer months the ponies lived in the mountainous south, but as winter approached they migrated north in search of food and water, and apparently allowed themselves to be captured by farmers and used for threshing and other vital agricultural work.

However, in the mid-20th century, as increased mechanization changed the face of farming and European Union grants encouraged farmers to keep livestock, such as sheep and goats, the Skyros pony became redundant and his mountain habitat increasingly overgrazed. lt is believed there are now less than 140 ponies left on the island – Skyros law does not permit their export – and these are possibly not all purebreds.

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