Why protect the Skyrian Horse?
Biodiversity – At a point in history where we are losing animal species at an alarming rate, the need to protect indigenous species and their natural environments is becoming ever more pressing. In Skyros the small oxen-like cow which was indigenous to the island became extinct in the 1970s. Now the Skyrian Horse is at risk. Although the Skyrian Alogaki (Greek meaning ‘small horse’) would probably once have existed across Greece, particularly in the islands, it only survived on the island of Skyros, thus giving it its name.
History – It is thought that the Skyrian Horse has existed since roughly 2,500 BC. Were they the horses used by Achilles, taken from the island and used to pull chariots at Troy? Are they the horses depicted on the famous Parthenon frieze? Greek history is not only visible in the ruins of Athens, it lives in the DNA of this ancient breed, creating a living link between then and now. They connect us to our past.
Rarity – There are approximately 200 Skyrian Alogaki left and of this probably only 90 who are genuinely a true example of the breed. Although limited scientific research has been conducted so far, there are a number of scientists who believe that the Skyrian Horse is an extremely ancient and important breed. Professor Gus Cothran, Director of Equine Research at Kentucky University, and vet and lecturer Alec Copeland have been particularly interested in these horses and their ancient bloodlines.
Education and therapeutic work – A relationship with horses teaches us many things: patience, persistence, responsibility, and firmness balanced with kindness and boundaries. In particular these pint-sized horses bring a rare opportunity in our mad rushing world to stop, cuddle, play and admire their natural beauty, and reconnect us to the natural world. They offer us a living communion with nature.