New President for Eriskay Pony Society.

The Eriskay Pony Society is delighted to announce that Professor Derek Knottenbelt, OBE, BVM&S, BVM&S, DVM&S, DIPECEIM, DACVIM, MRCVS, has agreed to accept the position of Honorary President. The Eriskay Pony Society looks forward to working with Professor Knottenbelt who brings with him a vast working knowledge on a range of equine matters, including many that the society is currently prioritising.

Professor Knottenbelt is a specialist in equine internal medicine and a Diplomat of the European College of Equine Internal Medicine.  He retired from a personal chair in Equine Medicine at the University of Liverpool in 2010 having run a sarcoid referral service for over 20 years and his main interests are in oncology, ophthalmology, wound management and dermatology.

He is the primary author of 10 equine veterinary text books and over 100 refereed scientific papers.

He has received numerous awards including the Animal Health Trust Scientific Award, the BEVA (Blue Cross) Welfare award, the Merk -WEVA Welfare Award and the RCVS Inspiration Award.  In 2019 he was awarded an honorary membership of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

In 2005 he received an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to Equine Medicine.

Derek is actively involved in animal and human charity work both in UK and abroad and is a founder member of the Vets with Horsepower team raising money for charity through provision of high quality CPD to vets and horse owners.

A First for Rare Breed Champions at Norfolk Equestrian Show

In July 2021 the rare native horse and pony breeds on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust Watchlist have the chance to compete for ‘RBST Priority breed’ and ‘RBST At Risk Breed’ champion rosettes for the first time. The two RBST Rare Breed Champion classes will close the Norfolk Equestrian Show, hosted by the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA) in association with RBST, behind closed doors at the Norfolk Showground on Wednesday 28 July 2021. 

The ‘Priority’ equine breeds on the 2021 RBST Watchlist are the Cleveland Bay Horse, Dales Pony, Dartmoor Pony, Eriskay Pony, Exmoor Pony, Hackney Horse and Pony, and Suffolk Horse. The ‘At Risk’ equine breeds on the 2021 RBST Watchlist are the Clydesdale Horse, Fell Pony, Highland Pony, New Forest Pony and Shire Horse. ‘Priority’ and ‘At Risk’ status is determined by RBST’s analysis of a range of factors including population numbers and genetic diversity.

Gail Sprake, Rare Breeds Survival Trust Chairman, said:  “With equine shows and competitions so severely limited over the past 18 months, we are delighted to be able to provide this fantastic opportunity to celebrate our rare breeds as well as the people, organisations and communities which support their survival. Each of our native pony and horse breeds has its own characteristics, unique features and history and each has played an extraordinary role in our nation’s history. The new RBST Priority and At Risk classes at the Norfolk Equestrian Show will really show why they are special.” 

So, if you are in the area and own an Eriskay, consider entering the show and show what an Eriskay can do.

More details can be found on the Norfolk Equestrian website HERE

HBLB Supports Rare Native Equine Breeds.

The Eriskay Pony Society is delighted to be included in the funding awards announced recently by the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB), with grants awarded in accordance with HBLB’s statutory objective for “the improvement of breeds of horses”.

As well as the significant investment made in the interests of the thoroughbred, for many decades HBLB has sought to protect and enhance specified British rare breeds via grants to societies to support their pure breeding programmes. The range of breed societies assisted has varied from time to time, and HBLB now takes advice from the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) on which native British breeds are most in need of help. The HBLB Board received a presentation from the RBST at its May meeting on current initiatives and activities.

HBLB Grants Manager Annie Dodd said: “Our native British horse and pony breeds are integral to this country’s landscape and history. Alongside its essential support for the breeding of the racing Thoroughbred, HBLB is also committed to helping the most vulnerable native breeds survive and thrive in the modern day. Breeds such as the Dales pony or the Suffolk Punch demonstrate the same qualities and aptitude for sport, work and leisure riding as the thoroughbred, and deserve the same high regard. They are part of the great British equine scene and the Board wants to help preserve them in the future.“

RBST Chief Executive Christopher Price said: “RBST is a conservation charity dedicated to the promotion and conservation of our native livestock and equines.  RBST was founded in 1973 and, since then, no UK-native breed has been lost. Our work includes cattle, sheep, pigs, horses, ponies, goats and poultry. We produce the RBST Watchlist, an annual assessment of the conservation status of all our native breeds, taking account of both the numbers and the extent of inbreeding.  “Our conservation strategy is based on the Watchlist’s findings: firstly wherever possible we promote the use of our native breeds, secondly lobbying for government support where appropriate and thirdly running conducting specific conversation projects where necessary. “We are enormously grateful for the support HBLB gives us and the wider native breed sector, which will make a real difference to our work and help ensure a thriving future for our rare native breeds.”

The Eriskay Pony Society, and it’s Breed Conservation Committee, work closely with the RBST to form breeding plans that will help ensure the survival of this versatile, but endangered, native pony.


The Eriskay Pony Society is delighted to say that the 2021 SPARKS data sheets are now available which will help breeders make informed choices about which stallion to pair with their mare.

SPARKS – Single Population Analysis and Records keeping system – is a computer-based breed analysis system developed by Dr Andy Dell which, used in conjunction with the GENES genetic analysis programme, can help breeders choose the optimum pairing of male and female for the maintenance of genetic diversity.  The key aim of SPARKS is to help reduce the depletion of genetic diversity that can pose a serious threat to the existence of small populations. 

The data is updated each year and the information provided helps breeders choose pairings that will give the progeny a lower mean kinship than both of the parent animals. Matings that give the progeny a higher mean kinship than both the parent animals are discouraged as are any matings that give the progeny a mean kinship near 0.24, an indication of inbreeding.

A fuller explanation of SPARKS can be found HERE.

The Eriskay Pony Society is very grateful to Dr Dell for allowing and supporting the use of SPARKS and also to the Rare Breed Survival Trust for their help and encouragement.  

Please contact the Breeding Advisor, Mary McGillivray, via  or the Registrar, Lorna Holden, via for more information or advice regarding the best matches for your mare.

Eriskay Pony Health Survey 2021

As part of our ongoing efforts to learn and share information about the ponies we all know and love we’ve launched our Eriskay Pony Society Health Questionnaire. We’ll use the information gathered to help us provide information and support to owners and prospective owners and to allow us to identify whether the breed is any more or less susceptible to any common equine conditions.

We welcome your input even if you don’t own an eriskay at the moment and it’s open to everyone regardless of whether you belong to this Society or not.

You are also welcome to fill this in anonymously if you choose, however it would be very helpful if we could keep in touch with you to share the findings of the survey with you once it is complete. To help us keep in touch, simply add your name and email address at the end of the form

Take part in our survey