SPARKS 2021

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.

RBST MANIFESTO FOR SCOTLAND 2021

The Rare Breed Survival Trust has launched it’s Manifesto for Scotland detailing 6 areas where they feel Government could help and support native livestock and equines. They identify that native livestock and equines are a part of Scotland’s biodiversity, in just the same way as wild animals and that is why the UN Biodiversity Convention and the Sustainable Development Goals require Scottish Government, in common with all Governments, to take steps to conserve them.  

They say that the breeds were bred to provide particular benefits in particular locations and as a result are the ultimate ecosystem service providers. They also say that native ponies, like the Eriskay, are ideal for conservation grazing. Whilst Governments are expected to support our wildlife and built heritage they call on the Scottish Government to support its livestock heritage too.

They conclude that Rare and Native breeds have the potential to be an important part of the solution to the challenges facing agriculture. Lower inputs, less environmental impact, cultural significance, localised, high welfare production are all traits that are well established and recognised. These traits could have a positive impact on meeting our biodiversity goals, lowering our agri-environmental footprint and enhancing our agritourism offering. However, to date there has been no recognition within government that our native breeds have an important part to play and they ask that the new Scottish Government pro-actively recognise the value of our rare and native breeds and include them in policy development.

The full Manifesto can be read HERE

You can also visit their website; www.rbst.org.uk