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 marym@eriskayponysociety.co.uk  or the Registrar, Lorna Holden, via registrar@eriskaypony.org 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

RBST Watchlist 2021-22

The Rare Breed Survival Trust works across the UK to save and safeguard the future of rare and native livestock and equine breeds, and its Watchlist is the annual situation report for these breeds.  The outlook for many of the UK’s rare native breeds has remained broadly unchanged, thanks to continuing interest from new breeders, the commitment of dedicated Breed Societies, conservation programmes at the 25 RBST-accredited farm parks, and generous public support for RBST’s work.

However, the Watchlist also shows that there remain a significant number of Priority breeds where the outlook is of particular concern, with ongoing trends of very low populations as well as lack of genetic diversity. These breeds include Eriskay ponies which the Watchlist overview identifies as ”the small but strong working ponies of crofters on the Western Isle of Eriskay.” The Watchlist also says that ”in 2020 only 7 females were registered, a very low number but an important increase from 2 in 2018. Six herds registered progeny in 2020, up from two in 2018.”

The Eriskay Pony Society works closely with the RBST to promote responsible and appropriate breeding and advice, support and information about grants for members can be found elsewhere on this website.

More information on the Watchlist can be found at http://www.rbst.org.uk.

Date for your diary

We will be holding our 26th ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of the Eriskay Pony Society by video conference on Saturday 24 April 2021 at 11.00am.

Due to current Covid-19 precautions we’ll be holding the meeting remotely. It has been deemed an acceptable format by the Office of the Scottish Charities Registrar (OSCR) and Companies House for the conduct of the business of our organisation.

If you are a member and wish to join the meeting please contact our Secretary for details of how to join the teleconference.

If you don’t have access to an electronic device, you can use a land line telephone to join via audio only. Numbers will be limited to 50 participants so please book your place as soon as possible.

Election of Council Members

Written nominations, proposed and seconded by Members, and with an undertaking of willingness to serve, should be sent to the Secretary by post or e-mail at the address given above. Nominations must be received by the Secretary by 10th April 2021. All nominees must be members of the society.

Council Members

  • Yvonne Evans
  • Mary McGillivray
  • Catriona Cochrane
  • Ruth McMinn

are due to retire at this AGM but are willing to stand for re-election.

Featured talk

Our guest speaker, Sarah Evans of the Dales Pony Society will present a talk entitled ‘Promoting Native Pony Breeds’, followed by an open forum where members can ask questions or raise and discuss any issues that of general interest or concern.

We welcome this opportunity for all members, wherever you live, to take part in the running of the Society and we hope that as many of you as possible will join us for an enjoyable morning.