The Skyrian, said to be similar to prehistoric horses, is thought to have arrived to its home on the Greek island of Skyros with Athenian colonists, not changing much since then due to its isolation form the rest of the world. Residents once used the ponies for harvesting grain, pulling carts, and as riding ponies. This continued until the 1950s, when people on the island began using machines to harvest their grain, rather than horses. Before long, horses were obsolete and were replaced with goats and sheep. The number of Skyrians plummeted, reaching 121 by 1993.
By that time, people finally began to take notice of the Skyrians' plight, and a law was made to prevent Skyrians from leaving the island. Those interested in the breed started the SIlva Project, a breeding project to help the breed. Despite their best efforts, the number of Skyrians declined to 90 by 2004. As the situation is becoming more desperate, supporters of the breed want the law prohibiting them from exporting the ponies to be lifted in hopes that they can establish a breeding operation on the mainland of Greece.
Breed Description and Uses
The Skyrian resembles an Exmoor Pony, though the former is much smaller at only 10 hands high. They have hardy hooves, a slender body, a narrow chest, a short and thin neck, and a slightly convex profile. Skyrians are usually bay with lighter, faw-colored hair along the muzzle, eyes, and the inside of the legs.