When the son of the owner of these ‘Shetland Ponies’ contacted me to inform me they were not Eriskay Ponies, I was trying to wrack my brains to remember who had led me astray initially? Actually a little like ‘Chinese Whispers’ the internet had caught on to the rumour and others also seemed to be mislabelling these Shetlands as their larger local cousins. It was quite comical that these handsome, slightly rotund creatures already adorned a few walls as ‘Eriskay Ponies’ and had already been popular in a local exhibition or two. Thankfully books and calendars have not left the production line!
So I begin the update process with a retraction of sorts and I have made a mental note to take a bag of apples with me on my next journey to South Uist to ensure that the
Eriskay Ponies Shetland Ponies of Loch Skipport are properly compensated.
The Eriskay Ponies are of course a hardy little bunch, with their dense waterproof coats and windswept manes. They are unlikely to take offence and no doubt a polo or two will sate their damaged pride. They are considered a rare breed these days. Their origins lie within the Western Isles where they were used as draft horses. They are the very essence of the islands they roam, friendly, hard working and of course those bleached manes echo the windswept landscape.
They even have their own society! http://www.eriskaypony.com/
As for the Shetland Ponies of Loch Skipport, they will continue to roam the area, never too far from the roadside, always on the lookout for a passing motorist with an apple or a spare orange. They didn’t swim across from Eriskay as legend may have it but if you are very lucky you may well find an Eriskay Pony among their number. I’m now trying to think of all those I need to set straight on the differences between thee Shetland Ponies and the rarer Eriskay Ponies.