Ιn late 2018 we were in Skyros again, home of the small-statured but big-hearted Skyrian horse, one of the rare breeds of Greece. A few years ago there weren’t that many pure bred Skyrians left and the small size of their gene pool had allowed hereditary malformations to become increasingly common. Recently we have been supporting the efforts of Amanda Simpson and her partner Stathis Katsarelias to maintain and improve the remaining population through a careful programme of selective breeding. This should mean not only the survival of the species but also the wellbeing of the individual animals in the breeding stock. Amanda and Stathis now care for a healthy herd of 35 critically endangered Skyrians on their farm and it’s a pleasure to witness the work they do on the island, where conditions can get really tough. Waterlogged paddocks in Winter give way to sun-baked earth and searing heat in Summer. The little Skyrians are hardy because they have to be.
During their 3-day visit, vet Michalis Gaganis and farrier Dom Moss, examined more than 100 equidae (not all of them Skyrians) in weather we will generously just call ‘challenging’. Nevertheless, the two of them battled the elements to provide all the dental and hoof care their patients needed. Some of the animals also received anti-parasite medication, and treatment was given to a horse that showed symptoms of acute laminitis – almost certainly because having been overfed. Michalis and Dom were very happy to be taken to visit a mare we had treated last year. She had been suffering from weight loss, unbalanced hooves and skin problems. The team had done its best for her, explaining the source of the problems and giving all the advice they could. In this case they were delighted to see that their patient explanations had been understood and their advice acted on, because in front of them stood a contented and apparently pain-free animal. A total transformation. It doesn’t get much better than this!
We’re most grateful to the people of Skyros, for their warm reception and hospitality. You can become part of our effort to keep Greek horses, donkeys and mules healthy and pain free by making a donation today : https://www.gawf.org.uk/donate/
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