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Eriskay Stand wins award at Equine Event

For the Eriskay Pony Society, the annual British Equine Event , held at Stoneleigh is a major date in the calendar. Every year a dedicated band of Eriskay enthusiasts from as far afield as Cornwall and Fort Augustus, get together to meet, man the stand and "spread the word " about Britain's most endangered native pony.

Celia Harper Gow receiving the award

As a small society, money is must be carefully targeted for maximum benefit, and in recent years a little has been spent every year to update the Society's image and provide good quality information for the public. Two years ago new leaflets were introduced, then a range of greetings cards and postcards featuring line drawings of the ponies by Catriona Campbell were launched. Then last year, thanks to the efforts of the late registrar, Tony Young, a Heritage Lottery Grant was ordered to enable the Society to buy its own display boards. Says Chairman, Celia Harper Gow:

"For years we had to beg and borrow display boards for the Equine Event and similar occasions. It was a great boost to be able to buy our own, which we can take to any of the many shows where we host displays and demonstrations. But we knew that the boards themselves were only of any use if we had something worthwhile to put on them. It was then that graphic designer Alastair Smith offered to help, having already designed our leaflets two years ago, he produced some stunning information panels, using new photographs, which we launched at Stoneleigh this year."

The new stand design certainly attracted attention, particularly when it won an award from the Royal Agricultural Society of England for the Best Breed Stand (beating 33 other stands for the honour). Celia Harper Gow and colleagues were delighted:

"As an endangered breed, shows such as the British Equine Event are critical. We need to raise the profile of the ponies to encourage more people to own, breed and use them. An award such as this is a big boost for all those who devote spare time to the Society.

"The judges awarded the prize to our stand for its presentation, interaction with the public and our non-commercial attitude - although we do have merchandise the main emphasis is on promoting the breed. They especially liked our display boards which set out our aims and gave historical and practical information on the breed."

The next outing for the boards and the Society will be at the Christmas Equine Fair at Ingliston, Edinburgh on December 8 and 9. Hazelden Jock, an RDA Driving Eriskay pony will be displaying his skills as part of a demonstration of native Scottish Breeds.

Increasingly, as numbers improve, there are ponies of all sorts from breeding stock, youngsters to broken ride and drive ponies and a small number of registered stallions for sale. For up to date information about Eriskay Ponies the Website, is useful, or email, tel:01560485970.

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