The Skyros Pony is a small breed of very primitive, highly endangered equines that has its mention in the Greek mythologies. This semi-wild Greek breed lived on the island of Skyros in Greece for 2,000 years. The history of their domestication is very old, and they were used for riding, and other types of farm works. Numerous breeding and conservation programs are being conducted to safeguard their down-going population count.
|Also Known As||Skyrian Horse, Skyrian Pony|
|Behavioral Characteristics||Spirited, friendly, even-tempered|
|Physical Traits||They have a very short stature with a large, pretty head; the neck is short while the chest is flat and the back part has a straight profile; the legs are long and fine but are sturdy and well-built|
|Category||Working Pony, Riding Pony|
|Coat Colors||Brown, gray, bay, chestnut, dun|
|Height/Size||9.2-10.3 hands (average for adult studs/stallions and mares)|
|Health Problems||Generally healthy with no known diseases|
|Uses||Work, general riding, children’s riding|
|Ancestors (Bloodlines)||Arthenian Horse|
|Popular Traits||Talented, healthy, intelligent, calm|
|Feeding/Diet||General horse diet including hay, grass, grains, etc.|
|Time of Development||5th century|
|Country of Origin||Greece|
Researchers have opined that the Skyros pony is a descendant of the equines that were brought to the Skyros island back in the 5th century by the Athenian colonists.
It has also been interesting to note that, a large number of miniature horses had originated along the similar latitudes, ranging between 30 and 45 degrees, which includes the Caspian, the Mytilene, and the Carpathian.
This breed basically evolved from the southeast regions of the island of Skyros, from which they got their name, although their specific origins are yet covered in mystery. However, they have long been living on the island, almost for a few centuries, and were domesticated a few of these semi-wild equines for farm work during summer time. However, during the winter months, these animals could thrive by themselves without the help of human beings.
In the later years, with the mechanization of farming and transportation, their population went down considerably. In the 1970s, a short breeding program was established to help the population grow; however, it was soon dissolved. Soon after, the entire breed was officially declared to be critically endangered in 1991.
At present, there is a small group of these little equines in the island. Yet another group has been kept at the University Farm in Thessaloniki, while a few others have been sheltered by some breeders.
There are numerous references of the Skyros Pony in the pages of the famous Greek legends, as old as 2,000 years ago. It is said that, these ponies would pull the chariot of Achilles, mentioned in the Iliad.
This small horse has also been featured in a frieze in the Parthenon, the main temple of the goddess Athena built on the Acropolis in Athens more than 400 years B.C.