This original article by Joanne Verikios - entitled "The Skyros Pony - A Love Story" - was first published
in Equestrian Country Magazine, Issue 2, Autumn 2017
The beautiful island of Skyros lies in the Sporades archipelago in the Aegean Sea. At just over 220 square kilometres and with a population of around 3000 people, Skyros would fit into Tasmania more than three hundred times!
Seismic upheaval, wind and water have combined to shape the frilly skirts of Skyros’s narrow-waisted coastline. Myth, legend and history have influenced her settlement, culture and strategic importance since ancient times. Civilisation here dates back at least to the Bronze Age (2500-1800 BC), as evidenced by a remarkable archaeological site at Palamari.
Colourful myths include that of Achilles, whose mother tried to save his life by convincing him to hide on Skyros disguised as a girl. Wily Odysseus tracked him down and convinced Achilles to use his talents as a warrior at the Siege of Troy, where destiny – in the form of an early but glorious death – awaited him.
Today, apart from enduring traditions and enchanting scenery, Skyros is most famous for being home to an endangered native equid, the so-called Skyrian horse or pony. The Greeks, who have no word for pony, use the term αλογάκι της Σκύρου (i.e., diminutive horse of Skyros).