Once again the Festival will be showcasing our equine heritage. Many folk getting into smallholding (and many existing smallholders) enjoy having an equine or two around the place – and they can do a job of work too.
For 2023, the Festival aims to showcase as many of our native equine breeds as possible. While we will be approaching breed societies, we are more than happy to work with individual breed enthusiasts to bring livestock to the Festival.
If you are a passionate breeder of native equines and would like to be part of our Equine Showcase, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
We are also keen to showcase other horse, pony and donkey breeds that may be of particular interest to smallholders.
Details to follow
The Clydesdale Horse is listed as Vulnerable by the RBST.
Today, the Shetland pony is used mainly for riding, driving and showing but the characteristics of strength, intelligence and docility make it entirely suitable as a working pony on today’s crofts and smallholdings.
The Cleveland Bay is one of the rarest of the British equine breeds and is listed as “Critical” on the RBST Watchlist. The breed dates back to the 14th Century, where it was developed as a packhorse for the travelling salesman or Chapman – and the horses were known as Chapman horses. Later, in the 17th Century, the breed evolved into the superior carriage horse for which Yorkshire was famed. The breed was particularly badly hit by WW1, when it was used as to draw light artillery and as officers’ horses.
The coming of mechanization almost finished the breed off but in 1961, HM The Queen purchased one of the last great stallions, Mulgrave Supreme, and made him available for public stud. The Cleveland Bay is now popular as a riding and driving horse and for crossbreeding with the Thoroughbred to produce quality hunters. Cleveland Bays and their crosses can be found performing successfully in almost all equestrian disciplines.
The Cleveland Bays at the Festival are from John and Eva Bennett’s Brackenbrae Stud.
Hard to believe that this breed is on the RBST Watchlist as Vulnerable.
The majority of Highland ponies are used for riding and they can turn their hooves to a great variety of equestrian activities such as, riding clubs, endurance, trec, showing, driving, RDA, and of course the ultimate family pony.
As you would expect, the breed is hardy and can live outdoors all year with shelter and is a “good doer”, requiring only a forage diet.
The Fell Pony is also listed as Vulnerable on the RBST Watchlist.
The Eriskay Pony Society has been a valued supporter of the Festival since its inception in 2012.
Listed by RBST as Critically endangered, we’re delighted to welcome these lovely ponies back this year.
Modern Eriskay ponies are the last surviving remnants of the original native ponies of the Western Isles of Scotland. Until the middle of the 19th Century ponies of the “Western Isles type” were found throughout the islands and used as crofters ponies, undertaking everyday tasks such as bringing home peat and seaweed in basket work creels slung over their backs, pulling carts, harrowing and even taking the children to school. Over the centuries of domestication, the Eriskay ponies evolved into the hardy, versatile, people friendly characters we recognise today.
On many of the islands increasing mobility and farming pressures led to larger ponies becoming fashionable. Norwegian Fjords, Arabs, Clydesdales and others were introduced to “improve” the native stocks and produce larger, stronger animals. However, on the remote island of Eriskay in the Western Isles, due to difficulties with access, other breeds were not introduced, leaving a stock of pure bred ponies which, due to mechanisation, had declined to around 20 animals by the early 1970s.
Through the work of a group of enthusiasts, numbers have risen steadily and now there are around 420 Eriskays in the world. The Rare Breeds Survival Trust with whom the Eriskay Pony Society works closely to ensure the long-term survival of the breed classes the Eriskay Pony as critical.
The Exmoor pony is listed as Endangered by the RBST.
The Dales Pony is listed as Critical by RBST.