Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Eric the Eriskay pony

I have been finding out more about how a pony called Eric saved the breed of Island ponies that we now call Eriskay ponies.  Here is his story :

At the start of the 1970's there were only about 20 pure Eriskay ponies left on the Islands. 

Eriskay ponies on Eriskay

Then in 1971 a small group of people on Eriskay, including a local priest, a doctor, a vet, a scientist and some crofters, got together and decided to save the Island ponies, because they realised what a special breed they are.  They realised that the number of Island ponies left was dangerously low, and that the breed was actually facing extinction.  As far as they knew there wasn't even a stallion left to continue the breed.

In 1972 they formed the 'Comann Each nan Eilean' – the 'Eriskay Pony Society' (CEnE), to ‘preserve and develop’ the breed.  

Eriskay pony studbook society ( CEnE )

Because they couldn't find a pure stallion they considered finding ‘lookalike’ stallions to serve the Eriskay mares, as they thought that was their only option.  These stallions would be found from the Highland ponies and the local Island of Rhum ponies.

Then, in 1973, a pure Eriskay stallion was discovered in the neighbouring island of South Uist - his name was Eric.  As the only stallion around for quite a while, Eric must have had a great time after that !

Eric took his work very seriously and sired six pure females and five pure males. 

The lovely breed of Eriskay pony was saved from extinction, but they are still on the rare breeds endangered watchlist as category 1 -  'critical'.  Critically endangered means there are under 300 registered, adult, breeding females in the world.   Other British horse breeds in category 1 are the Cleveland Bay, Suffolk, and Hackney horse & pony  Although I'm not sure if these would be classed as a British native pony, they are still breeds that have been in Britain for a long time and it would be sad to see these disappear.

My photographs are of the small feral herd on the Island of Eriskay, but most of the Eriskay ponies are now domesticated.

Feral Eriskay pony

I prefer him in black and white -

Black and white Eriskay pony

More information about the ponies can be found on these sites: 

But I will be writing more about them and posting more photos  if you would like to follow my blog.

Also if you like any of the photos they can be purchased here:


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