Current Situation & Future
In 2004, a census taken on Skyros revealed 90 horses left on the island.
Only 14 were pure. Nicos Kriticos,
agrarian specialist, municipality of Skyros.
Hippologist Alec Copland: "If we had an outbreak of African Horse Sickness or similar on Skyros, the entire population would be wiped out".
This is the main reason for starting the SILVA Project as we need to create refuges of genetic material in sites out of Skyros, not only in Greece, but abroad as well, in order to secure the survival of the breed.
Another aim is to keep the Skyros breed as pure as possible. On the island of Skyros, the pure Skyrian blood has been intermingled with that of the mainland horses, as is shown by the existence of many of grey colour, which was probably introduced between the wars. A hoof that is not black is also an indication that the horse is not purebred.
In a wider context, the SILVA Project is in the process of establishing a
herd book. The major problem on Skyros is identifying the horses, but by 2007
we expect to have all horses microchipped. Eventually it is hoped that, by
taking blood and hair from all the existing horses, it will be possible to
produce a dendogram placing the Skyrian horse in its correct place in the equine
The SILVA Project was initiated in 1996, on the Silva estate, which is located on the Kanoni peninsula near Corfu Town. As well as the horses, the owners offer a real home to a large range of rescued animals, such as owls and other wild birds, donkeys, dogs and cats.