Since the Eriskay Pony is a native breed, owing more of its characteristics to natural selection than to human influence, it is the policy of the Eriskay Pony mother society not to be too rigid about standardisation. From a long term point of view, a little normal biological variation is quite good.
The excellent temperament of Eriskay Ponies is one of their most distinctive and valuable features. All Eriskay Ponies should be placid and amenable with no signs of viciousness or aggression.
A certain amount of flexibility is allowed. Generally, however, ponies must have the conformation of a good horse and, in addition, have those specific points which distinguish Eriskay Ponies :- as follows
Withers Height: 12.0 hh to 13.2hh
Body: generous in all dimensions, relative to the height of the legs.
Chest: well sprung: ideally having a gentle but pronounced slope from the spine downwards towards the full width of the ribcage.
Head: Ample width, length and depth to the extent of being considered large by the standards of most horse breeds; not coarse; straight profile ; large nasal cavity allowing for cold air to be warmed before reaching the lungs.
Teeth: incisor teeth should meet evenly and there should only be a very slight angle; this angle will naturally increase with age.
Neck: shorter and thicker than in ‘specialised riding horses'.
Dock: low, but not excessively so; the ideal animal should show a gentle graceful curve from the croup to the pin bone with the dock situated in the middle third of this curve;the tail should not be well "set on", i.e.it should be tucked in close to the hindquarters to provide adequate protection for the perineum and groin..
Legs: viewed from the front , knees and fetlock wide and flat, viewed from the side, leg almost straight from elbow to fetlock
Shoulders: well muscled, not course or lumpy, can be more upright than those of ‘ specialised riding horses'.
Pasterns: are shorter and more upright than those found in Arabs and thoroughbreds , though not quite so short and upright as in heavy draught horses.
Feet: small with hard horn; a little more upright and ‘ blocky ' and with slightly higher heels than those of ‘ specialised riding horses'; soles rather flat; frogs small.
Hair: forelock, mane and tail well developed and generous in quantity ; ideally this hair should be wavy to shed rain efficiently ; caudal fringe should always be discernible; vortices anterior to the stifle region well developed. There should not be much feather, only a tuft.
No colour will deem an animal unsuitable in spite of the dominant and distinctive Eriskay colour pattern of black turning to grey; in dark coloured animals there should be a light coloured muzzle and a light coloured ring round the eye; there should not be a pronounced eel stripe; nearly all Eriskay Ponies are born black, a few remain so but the vast majority gradually turn grey as they grow.
The following figures can be regarded as a guide:-
Withers height 120 – 137 cms
Body length (point of shoulder to pin bone) 105% - 125% of withers height
Length of head ( commissure of lips to nuchal crest) 35 % - 45% of withers height
Point of hock to ground 28 % - 35% of withers height
Girth (pulled on spring balance to 10kgms) 108% - 130% of withers height
(to attempt to obviate the confusing factor of fat cover)
Circumference of fore cannons minimum 16 cms
Circumference of hind cannons minimum 17 cms
Legs are not lifted high and steps are short. This allows economy of energy and
leads to increased endurance.
Guidelines for Inspection
1 Allowances may be made for ponies showing fear because they have not been handled much.
2 A barrel shaped chest will not constitute a serious fault.
3 The condition known as 'parrot mouth' if not excessive, should be regarded with great caution as it is sometimes seen in foals of this breed but disappears on maturation.
4 The following conditions, if not severe, will not constitute faults; calf knees, sickle hocks and cow hocks.
5 Double vortices are not a fault.
6 A faint eel stripe in young animals is quite acceptable.
7 A double mane is frequently seen and is quite acceptable.
8 A dish face is not acceptable.
copyright Robert Beck MRCVS 2006