Bon Voyage….. Kalo Taxidi ……Norman and Jasonus……. June 2016
For the last three years, here at Skyros Island Horse Trust, we have been working very hard on promoting the role and value of the Skyrian horse in Greece and abroad, so that some horses can go further afield and promote the breed and the island, while demonstrating the value and worth of the Skyrian pony to the wider world, thus allowing us the opportunity to continue to breed from wonderful quality maiden mares .
For the very first time two Skyrian geldings, Jasonus (8 years old) and Norman (7 years old), have legally left Skyros for a wonderful new home in Belgium http://www.villers.be/en with passports issued by the official registry of the Skyrian horse, the Skyrian Horse Society, the only Greek horse breed organisation able to issue passports to date.
This has been a long process and has actively involved those who care about skyrian horses and an enormous amount of time, research and lots of Greek paperwork !! Even at the eleventh hour, 2 hours before the ferry was to leave with the ponies on board, we had news from the state vet that there were still some pieces of paperwork missing – but luckily Yannis Vassiliou http://www.hellenic-equine-transport.gr/ stepped in and clarified the whole thing.
We would like to say an enormous thank you to: Natasha Skrini and her family for all their support and contributions in many different ways towards Jasonus over the years. Although Jasonus was born at the project and has always lived and been looked after by us, he has always been owned and loved by Natasha and she very generously donated him to the project to be we hope an excellent ambassador for the skyrian horse.We would also like to thank Giouli Daskagianni, equine vet now based in Skyros (who is a godsend as all their immunizations needed to be recorded by a registered vet so it would have been impossible without her presence in Skyros), Nikos Kritikos, president of The Skyrian Horse Society, Yiannis Vassiliou, international horse transporter, Rachel Etherington for all her passport research and Kleopatra Triantafyllou GAWF equine vet BUT also all the amazing volunteers and local children who have helped us bring up these two wonderful ponies, to care and train and look after them in the best possible way.
Their journey started on Friday with a vet check from Giouli, which they passed with flying colours, here is Norman having his vet check.
Next the horsebox arrived and after finally pics with their passports, they loaded into the lorry like they had been doing it all their lives, we were so proud of them… We were crying, and they were really just interested in the yummy hay in the lorry.
They crossed on the ferry , had all their paperwork stamped in Evia by the officially recognized State vet and headed onto Athens to be stabled until Monday, for the next leg of their trip . The boys have really had to cope with a new world and we have been told by Yiannis that they have been wonderful and very well behaved. We are talking with him every day as their journey proceeds, today they are in Italy as they head towards Belgium … We are so proud of our boys …
They still have a long journey ahead of them and will arrive in Belgium http://www.villers.be/en on Friday evening. We have volunteers based in Belgium and Germany who will be visiting them very soon and will help their new carers understand their personalities, quirks and foibles… Also to make sure they are not getting too fat on all that lovely green grass !!!
So with great sadness we say goodbye to two of our home-bred geldings, now grown-up babies, Jasonus and Norman… but also with excitement. A historic moment… as two lovely skyrians go to a wonderful new home in Belgium, where we know they will love and enjoy them as much as we have, whilst giving us the opportunity to now breed from two of the wonderful maiden mares we have bred, that just could not be bred from due space restraints.
I have just read the article in National Geographic, and I think these ponies are descended from the Exmoor pony. The Exmoor is probably the oldest equine on the planet, they are, at present, on the endangered species list. The characteristics:-
Block colour, being bay, with no white markings, feet are small and neat with the horn being very hard. Mealy muzzle and light marking around eyes, giving toad eyes. Height 12.2hands approx. The mane stands up giving a “punk” look, the tail is bushy at the dock growing sleek and long, set into the dock lower than other equines, to protect from the elements. The Romans took these ponies from Britain as they were used for chariot racing, being exceedingly quick and agile. They are hardy, needing very little feeding, have great endurance, and can carry enormous weight, a full grown man is no problem. When galloping they are able to drop their body approx 10 inches, lowering their centre of gravity, and wonder to see, then they just seem to fly, truly amazing, no other equine does this that I am aware of. It is highly intelligent and is a born survivor, as it forages for food. I have an Exmoor pony, they are different from other breeds in many ways.