We’d like to say an enormous THANK YOU to everyone who supported our recent crowdfunder for winter hay and veterinary essentials. We are overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness shown to us in what we’re sure has been a challenging and turbulent time for all. Thank you to all who donated, wrote social media posts, shared our campaign, commented on posts, sent us well wishes and worked as volunteers at the farm – without all of you coming together to support the project, this amazingly successful crowdfunder would not have happened.
The final grand total raised is £6575! You have secured us the funds for the hay we need to keep the horses well fed and warm through the winter, replenish our veterinary supplies, purchase wormer, as well as specialist feed for our older horses. However you really went above and beyond and continued to donate well past our original target. This means we will be able to replace our worn-out wheelbarrows and equipment and purchase some special slow-feed haynets. These will help us become even more economical and efficient by reducing waste, saving time and energy in manual labour, and slowing down the horses’ eating which benefits their health in many ways. Stathis, Amanda, Hebe, Katie, Eloise, Lucy, and everyone to whom the project means something, feel so grateful and blessed that not only have you secured us the bare essentials but you have also given us the opportunity go further and make these seemingly small changes which have a big impact and help the horses thrive.
We are currently in the process of ordering the hay supplies and new equipment, although the double whammy of Covid and Brexit (on top of the challenges of getting resources to an island at the best of times!) of course means things are going be a bit more complicated and take a little longer than usual. It also takes time because it is really important to us that we make the best use your donations in the most economical way possible. However we will be sure to update you with our progress as soon as we can so that you can see the real difference your support makes!
Amanda and Stathis cannot express how grateful they are and how hopeful you have made them for the future of the project with these 34 charming and critically-endangered Skyrian horses. You have shown that great things come about through a series of small acts of kindness.We send you much love and wish you all the best for 2021. Thank you.
A short story in photos and words about life at the farm over the last 7 months or so…
A Greek island, lockdown, ponies: sounds like heaven! But with only two of us looking after 36 ponies, 3 dogs, 10 cats, multiple chickens, a goat and from late June onwards a rescue sheep too, our lives became much harder and just occasionally it felt more like hell than paradise!!
It was a long 6 months from March to the end of August, as I imagine it was for most people… All of us have had our worlds turned upside down and have had to adapt.
For us, the reality hit when our final volunteer, Eloide, left on the last day before Greece’s lockdown in March. Suddenly there were just two of us, at the age of 56, to do the work of 4 to 5 people… This became our new norm. So how did we cope and what was our daily routine?
Tonnes and tonnes of this to be picked up early morning and late evening… We probably picked up 30 tonnes at least in total during those 5 and a half months!
The tools of our trade .. Wheelbarrows and hand rakes!!
The weather wasn’t always kind in late March through to May. Which made life at times that much more challenging !
Over 30 tonnes of hay to be fed over 6 months, shared out 3 times a day. That’s about 7 to 8 bales a day – fed early in the morning , midday and late in the evening . This is split between 11 fields, both at the farm and down the road. It’s tiring!
Lots of water buckets to be filled up three times a day and during hot weather refilled far more often (as well as daily cleaning). This includes delivering water down the road to fields where we have no water source, using a wheelbarrow or balanced on Stathis’ moped!
But the inclement spring did make for some lovely grazing which the herd gobbled up incredibly quickly.
Add into this mix dealing with the occasional colic, administering sweet itch meds, worm/parasite treatment, fly control, flea control for cats and dogs and essential haircuts – for the dogs, not us!! Mild cuts and abrasions to clean and manage, sand clear treatment to be made up and given, cutting down the overgrowth along the fence-line, mending fences. Next thing you know our neighbour’s herd of sheep have escaped into the stallion pen! Then the phone rings and another neighbour’s horse has got a mild colic or wound and wants help and advice on nursing it….The daily slog of running a farm. Yards to be swept, stables to be cleaned. The day never seems to begin or end: it just becomes a part of an endless cycle.
May was Hay… Yup 3 lorries of hay and a small lorry of oaten hay!! Approximately 38 tonnes – that’s about 1750 bales… We wanted to make sure that as long as we were economical we at least had hay to feed the horses until December….Clearing storage spaces of old hay and then unloading and stacking the new… Phew! Thank God we had help and we could do it within lockdown measures in the last few weeks of May!
June was setting up a Paddock Paradise track system which was a huge success for the main mares herd. However unfortunately it was a disaster for our stallions, who found it utterly unsettling to be able to see the mares one minute and not the next as they disappear off round the track. So the challenge for us now is to re-house/re-field the stallions so that we can use the track system, as it appears to have so many benefits for some of our herd.
On the first of July we celebrated receiving notification that we had been registered as an official Greek Non-Profit. This would not have been possible without the help of Kostas Lorentzo, who basically did all the hard work of getting all our paper work together. We owe him an enormous debt of gratitude.
But by July we were exhausted. Neither of us had had a day off and also the challenges of working and living together 24/7 with no one else around was taking its toll. We weren’t able to find anyone local to come and help as people were preparing for whatever small tourist season we were going to get on the island and we really had no money to pay anyone even a very basic amount. We weren’t taking any volunteers as we felt it was too big a risk. We were also very aware that Stathis had not had any spare moment to make any ceramics, meaning opening his ceramic shop was a no-go for 2020. The pressure, our exhaustion from relentless physical work, the awareness that our economic situation was tight (when isn’t it) and the heat began to build and life really did become hard.
August arrived and the news of two mature horse-experienced volunteers interested in a 3 month+ stay in late August gave us a glimmer of hope, the idea of a breather, light at the end of the tunnel. So our focus became getting the volunteers room cleaned and serviceable, as it had been used as a feed store and general dumping ground over lockdown. In reality it became three amazing volunteers Eloise and Lucy who arrrived in late August beginning of September and Hebe who arrived in Mid October . Huge sigh of relief, massively helpful, truly grateful and the reason why we have had the time to start to connect once again with the outside world…
Yes, we’re much fitter and much thinner too! But also older and exhausted, doing the work of 4 people, with just 2 of you at 56, has been tiring. Yes, we are resilient, but not super human. We have learnt many lessons which we now need to act on… But that is for our next post…….
Bon Voyage….. Kalo Taxidi ……Norman and Jasonus……. June 2016
Passports in Close Up
Jasonus Umm what’s that lorry….. Norman yumm lovely hay…. Amanda can I hold these two ropes between my legs and get a good photo of these passports !!!!
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.
Maria and Jasonus
Jasonus and George
Jasonus with Elai
George’s final goodbye to Jasonus ( these two really have had a marvelous relationship.)
Out for a walk
Norman as a 2 year old
Norman as a baby in 2009
Normans last time with Anna
Natasha Skrinis and Jasonus who has supported him all his life in many different ways.
Their journey started on Friday with a vet check from Giouli, which they passed with flying colours, here is Norman having his vet check.
Vet check yup heart rate fine
Vet Check Checking vitals and Temperatute all Ok !
Trotted up Yes Normans fine .
Vet Check all sound here
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.
as long as we have hay all is Ok….
Umm never been in one of these before says jasonus
Beautiful Norman named after Amanda ‘s dad…..As long as I have hay all is fine…. Says Norman….
Saying goodbye difficult moments when you have had them from the very first moment. Jasonus together for 8 years. We will miss him very much.
So hard to say goodbye.
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.
Hi everybody! The 2-leggeds, although great at looking after all of us 4-leggeds, are not so good at telling the rest of the world our news.
So I, Hermes, as the firstborn of the project, have decided to take it upon myself to tell you how things have been going since spring here at the farm. Firstly and most importantly an enormous thank you to all the amazing 2-leggeds who supported our hay appeal… Without your generosity our carers would be besides themselves by now. It is great that this hay year (we horses measure the year from April to April = horse food year!) we have no worries about our hay supply and us 4-leggeds know that this is the most massive relief for our 2 main carers Stathis and Amanda. We hear them talking about something called a crisis, economy and lots of other words we cannot repeat here! But they know our food is safe and we eat an enormous amount of it and that gives them great relief.
So we managed to get 21 tons at the end of April – that’s 980 bales, all on one lorry and an enormous trailer (which couldn’t get through the farm gates!) Rather a lot of expletives from the six-woman team (including a very special guest who I will tell you about later) it took to unload it, but they seem to have been written down in island history beginning the unloading at 10.30pm and ending at 5.30 am (they were not happy bunnies!).
Cleaning up before 21 tons of hay arrives !
Lorry outside the gate 11 tons
Famous guest helping out.
cleaning the hay barn argh!!
Those two leggeds really broke a sweat
Next, another large lorry of 450 bales in August, not quite such hard work as before …. Phew!!!
Alongside this we have a regular 3-weekly delivery of 60 bales of yummy oat straw every couple of weeks and the occasional bale of alfalfa for our lovely foal and oldies and needies …. We fatties also get to eat a bit of it, if we’re lucky!
August delivery and our Mum chucking hay
Got Man help this time August!!!
Oat straw in the stable
The humans were also quite clever and ordered two more 11-ton lorries at spring prices to be delivered at the end of October and January.
But the 2-leggeds do keep going on about capital control. We are not really sure what this is (neither are they) but from what my horse brain understands it made it hard over the summer for the trust bank account cheques which are in pounds sterling to be banked in Greece as Greek banks can’t honour them, apparently this has now changed which should make things easier…..
4-leggeds and 2-leggeds saying a massive thank you to all who helped with our hay appeal.
So we would like to thank a long list of such amazingly generous 2-leggeds who have helped in many different ways, who all in our minds are Skyrian Horse angels and without your support all forty of us 4-legged Skyrians would just not be able to survive.
Phokion Potamianos – Homem
The Whalley family
Inga Sega and family
Kel Portman Tina Allen Colessar Richard Horsfall Shaina Goudie Adelia Greer Georgios Tziakos Monica Olsen Rednerium Myrto Papa Polly Campbell Preston
J. Em Schofeild
Thanasis Sofos Julia Charlton
Meret Stoppia Elaine Chambers
Cecile Kold Skensved
Sarah Helena Barmer
horseandman.comand the donations that came from the ‘Drop in the Bucket Fund’.
We so hope that we haven’t forgotten anyone and if we have, we are really sorry – let us know so that we can add you to our list of supporters!
Emma Massingale working with the stallions
As we said earlier we had the most incredible surprise this year – along with the hay came Emma Massingale (I have to say her support in hay unloading was phenomenal – I am not sure she signed up for that!!!). One of the most incredible liberty trainers/horsewomen who is also massively insightful and really courageous came to visit the project for 4 days. It was a wonderful learning experience for both horses and humans and a rare opportunity for us all, on this very remote island, to get such exceptional and expert training which enables the 2 leggeds to develop there work with us, and a great gift to meet a truly inspirational human. Some local young people were also able to particpate in a training session which they loved.This visit was only made possible by the enormous generosity of volunteers who we just cannot thank enough. You know who you are and you are all amazing and your gift will continue to caring on working for years that’s the value of education. Emma wrote a great blog about the project please see below.
Read Emma Massingale’s blog for Horse & Country TV about her time on Skyros here!
Baby Maya just born – my grandaughter
After nearly three years of not breeding, this year Maya was born on the 30th of May, to Meli and Tarpan. Tarpan’s first foal and a proud father he is and my first grandchild …. Maya is a whirlwind, she was up and running from the word go, with the Houdini spirit of her mother and sisters – within 2 hours of birth she managed to get into my field and was trying to find a drink from us geldings! Luckily being super new men horses, of course we were very polite and told her to wait until the 2-leggeds came to get her out and back to mum. Maya has been hugely popular with all the volunteers and is rather spoilt. If anyone is interested in adopting here please do contact us.
Maya trying out spring grass…
Baby Maya and her mum Meli and her 2 half sisters Glika and Chloe
Maya Thank you Irini Anadioti photography
We are hoping that some of our older trained Skyrians will be finding new homes in the not too distant future, thus allowing some of our younger maiden mares and first time stallions to breed, increasing quality and introducing new bloodlines to the breed. But this is always done in a controlled way and with an enormous amount of forethought. So when two older trained ponies leave for new pastures, two mares will get to be covered – we at all times want to balance between conservation and welfare.
Summer news coming soon, watch this space … The festival etc, welfare work, and new developments!
Το Σκυριανό Άλογο: άγρια ομορφιά, ήρεμη συντροφιά..
Ελάτε να ανακαλύψουμε και να γιορτάσουμε μαζί με μία από τις σπανιότερες και αρχαιότερες φυλές αλόγων στον κόσμο. Η δεύτερη γιορτή, που αρχίζει στις 19 Ιουνίου και θα διαρκέσει μέχρι το βράδυ της 21ης, θα λάβει χώρα σε διάφορα σημεία στο όμορφο νησί της Σκύρου, την πατρίδα του παγκοσμίως γνωστού Σκυριανού Αλόγου.
Γεμάτη με εκπλήξεις, εργαστήρια, καλλιτεχνικές εκθέσεις, παραστάσεις και φυσικά την ευκαιρία να γνωρίσετε το Σκυριανό Άλογο. Αυτή η συναρπαστική και μοναδική τριήμερη γιορτή θα σας γεμίσει με πολύτιμες στιγμές που θα θυμόσαστε για πάντα και μια βαθύτερη κατανόηση για αυτή την μοναδική μικρόσωμη φυλή αλόγου.
Με μόνο περίπου 300 Σκυριανά Άλογα εναπομείναντα στον κόσμο, το Σκυριανό Άλογο είναι μία φυλή με μοναδικό φαινότυπο και ίσως να αποτελεί συνδετικό κρίκο με τις αρχαίες, άγριες φυλές αλόγων του κόσμου. Με καταγωγή την Σκύρο αυτά τα μικρά άλογα έχουν κάτι τόσο ξεχωριστό που αιχμαλωτίζει την καρδιά, το μυαλό και τη φαντασία όλων όσων έχουν την ευκαιρία να βρεθούν κοντά τους. Αν και το ύψος του (από 95 μέχρι 115 εκ.) παραπέμπει σε πόνι, η διάπλαση και η εκπληκτική χάρη της κίνησής του εύστοχα του διασφαλίζουν τον χαρακτηρισμό ως μικρό άλογο. Αυτή η αρχαία, σπάνια ελληνική φυλή είναι γνωστή για την εξυπνάδα και την ιδιαίτερη ιδιοσυγκρασία της.
Αυτό δεν είναι ένα συνηθισμένο φεστιβάλ! Ελάτε να υποστηρίξετε και να μάθετε περισσότερα για αυτό το σπάνιο μικρό άλογο.
Αυτές οι διακοπές θα είναι μία αξέχαστη εμπειρία ζωής κοντά στο Σκυριανό Άλογο, με καταπληκτική φιλοξενία, όμορφο τοπίο, ήλιο, θάλασσα, καλό φαγητό, κρασί, μουσική και παράδοση. Απολαύστε ζωντανά δραστηριότητες με τα Σκυριανά Άλογα από ειδικούς και ανθρώπους που τα φροντίζουν, αναβίωση παραδοσιακών εθίμων, μία ξεχωριστή μέρα στο Βουνό, στο όρος Κόχυλας τον φυσικό βιότοπο του Σκυριανού Αλόγου γεμάτη με εκδηλώσεις, μία έκθεση καλλιτεχνών με θέμα το άλογο, περιπάτους, παραδοσιακό φαγητό και κρασί και πολλά πολλά άλλα!
Νέοι ή μεγαλύτεροι, ειδικοί στα άλογα ή μη, υπάρχουν πολλές συναρπαστικές δραστηριότητες για τον καθένα. Το πλήρες πρόγραμμα θα κυκλοφορήσει τον Μάιο.
“Τα Σκυριανά Άλογα είναι τα πιο ήπια και εγκάρδια άλογα που μπορείτε να φανταστείτε. Αλληλεπιδρώντας μαζί τους μαθαίνουμε τόσα πολλά πράγματα που έχουμε ξεχάσει στο σύγχρονο πολιτισμό, όπως η εμπιστοσύνη, ο σεβασμός για τον εαυτό μας, καθώς και για τα άλλα έμβια όντα αλλά και να ακούμε την καρδιά μας. Αυτά τα άλογα μπορούν να θεραπεύσουν τις ανθρώπινες ψυχές. “
– Emma Mills, πρώην βοηθός στο Κέντρο Προστασίας ιπποειδών Redwings, Μ. Βρετανία.
Το φεστιβάλ διοργανώνεται από το Skyros Island Horse Trust σε συνεργασία με το
Κτήμα Μουριές και με τη συμβολή της Ένωσης Μικρόσωμης Φυλής Αλόγων Σκύρου.
Υποστηρίζεται από το Πρόγραμμα LIFE του Δήμου Σκύρου.
The Second Annual Skyros Horse Festival June 19th – 21st 2015, Skyros Island, Greece
Skyros Horse festival 2015
The Skyros Horse: wild beauty… gentle friend…
Come to discover and celebrate with us the Skyrian Horse, one of the rarest and oldest horse breeds in the world. The second festival, commencing on the 19th of June and running until the evening of the 21st, will take place in a variety of beautiful places on the Greek island of Skyros, homeland of this hidden treasure, the little Skyrian Horse.
Packed with surprises, workshops, tradition, art, performances and of course the opportunity to get to know the Skyrian Horse, this inspiring and unique, three-day festival will fill you with treasured moments to take home and a deeper understanding of this unique little horse.
With only approximately 300 Skyrian Horses left in the world, with its distinct phenotype, it may be our closest link to the original wild horse. It has recently been officially recognized as a registered breed. Originating in Skyros, Greece, these little horses have something so special that they capture the hearts, minds and imaginations of all who have the opportunity to meet them. Although technically a pony, standing between 9.3 and 11.1 hands high, their conformation and surprising grace of movement aptly ensure that they are called a little horse. This ancient, rare Greek breed is renowned for its intelligence, wonderful disposition and temperament.
As many people will be aware, Greece is facing very challenging times and the Skyrian horse has to live and thrive within the Greek crisis. Having survived until now, having faced so many turning points at which the breed could have disappeared forever, these little horses have managed to survive… Will Greece’s Crisis be the Skyrian horses’ Achilles Heel? This is a story that is as powerful as any Greek myth. This will be no ordinary festival. Come and show your support and find out more about this rarest of small horses.
Come and have a once in a lifetime holiday, combining the little Skyrian Horse, amazing hospitality, a beautiful landscape of sun and sea, great food and wine, music and tradition. Enjoy live performances with the Skyrian Horses and the people that care for them, watch people reviving traditions with the horses, get involved in a mountain safari and exciting events in the natural habitat of the Skyrian Horse, an international art exhibition, workshops, walks, and much much more.
Young or old, horsey or non-horsey, there are plenty of exciting events for everyone. The full program will be released in May.
This festival is being organised by Skyros Island Horse Trust and this year with the partnership and contribution of Mouries Farm and contributions from the Skyrian Horse Society, the official registration society for the Skyrian Horse.
The festival is being supported and coordinated in partnership with the Skyros LIFE Project for the Biodiversity of the Island which is co-funded by the Skyros Municipality and the European Commission.