This small, sturdy pony is the last surviving descendant of the once numerous native ponies of the West Isles of Scotland. They have a lineage through both the Celtic ponies as well as the Norse ponies but are a unique breed unto themselves.
Most Eriskay Ponies are gray in color, however there are some bays and blacks. All Eriskay Ponies are born dark in color and their coat lightens as they mature. There are no other colors seen in this breed and no coat patterns other than solids.
The Eriskay Ponies were often simply called "crofter" ponies as they lived quite literally in the back yards of the cottages. Since most of the men worked on fishing boats, these ponies where both working animals and pets to the women and children that did the day to day work around the small farms and acreages on the islands.
On some of the Scottish Islands other breeds of horses, including large draft breeds, were imported and crossed with the Western Island type ponies, resulting in significant changes from the original ponies. The island of Eriskay, one of the most remote of the islands, did not import any other horses, which is where all true Eriskay Ponies are now descended from.
In the early 1970's there were only about 20 Eriskay Ponies left, so several local people including crofters (cottage owners), vets, a priest and several other professionals including scientists and doctors developed the Eriskay Pony Society to preserve and protect the line.
Currently there are over 420 Eriskay Ponies registered with the Eriskay Pony Society and the number continues to grow thanks to breeding programs across the British Isles that are monitored by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
The Eriskay Pony has a truly marvelous temperament and they are wonderful companion ponies for children and adults alike. In their native island areas they are often still very traditionally used as general all purpose crofter's ponies, while in larger areas they are ideal children's mounts in dressage, Pony Club events, western and English riding classes and competitions and even cross country events.
Eriskay Ponies are always shown complete natural with no clipping or trimming allowed. This includes leaving the manes, whiskers and the hair on the legs as natural. The tail can be trimmed if it is dragging on the ground, but cannot be cut off flat in a bang type cut seen in many competitions.
Eriskay classes are always a highlight at the Royal Highland Show. This annual show is held in June and features Eriskay Ponies in a variety of different classes from being shown in hand to show jumping and dressage events.