Sheilagh Brown from Overton Bush, Scotland, is a prize winning vet committed to save the only Scottish herd of a small Greek pony breed from the island of Skyros.
According to The Southern Reporter, Mrs. Brown won a top student prize and gained a first in equine science this year. She aims at increasing the numbers of the breed, which only count 200 ponies around the world today.
The other two herds are located in Greece: the one in the ponies’ homeland, the island of Skyros, and the other one in the island of Corfu.
Mrs. Brown came in touch with the Skyrian ponies while visiting Alec Copland’s farm, who bred Exmoor ponies. The retired vet lecturer had imported five Skyrian ponies from Corfu in 2005 and had increased their number to 14 by June 2011.
At the moment, 22 ponies are found around southern Scotland, since Mrs. Brown cannot take care of them all by herself.
“I fell in love with them. I’m very interested in their background and where they come from because they are an interesting mix of the outdoor type, like a Shetland, but they also have a lot of features which come more from the Arab – very fine bones, thin skin, and a very rangy frame which would suggest they’re more a southern type, like the Caspian pony” told Mrs. Brown The Southern Reporter.
The 54-year-old vet was so interested in the Skyros ponies, that she took an equine science honours degree via distance learning.
Cited in The Southern Reporter, Mrs. Brown expressed her wish to do a PhD on rare breed horses, since “recent genetic studies have confirmed observations that the Skyrians are quite unique; while other Greek horse breeds are related to Middle Eastern types, the Skyrian, appears unrelated to any horse breed that has been tested so far.”
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