The Skyros Horse
"BOFOR SKYROU" - local Skyrian newspaper, May-June 2005
The "hipparion" of Skyros, having played a major role in Greek history, survived for the last centuries mainly on the island of Skyros. It has served man time and time again, helping farmers with agricultural work.
A census in 1998 revealed 158 horses on the island of Skyros, out of which only 30 were pure. Some years ago a few horses were sent to the University of Salonica to be studied. In 1996, Mrs Sylvia Dimitriadis-Steen, a known animal lover and caretaker, was approached and asked to provide lodgings for four of the horses kept by the University. Mrs Steen, who was already interested in this unique and rare breed, went to Skyros, met some specialists and became aware of the horses' situation and their imminent danger of becoming extinct.
This is how The SILVA Project was born.
On the Ionian island of Corfu, the SILVA estate, owned by the Dimitriadis-Steen family, would provide the Skyros horse an additional, if not unique, opportunity to survive.
SILVA, a non-profit organisation founded for the protection and breeding or rare animals and breeds, focuses today on the preservation of this small-type breed. SILVA is also trying to find a new role for the Skyros horse and has recentrly developed new equine activities with them - e.g. riding for children and therapeutic riding for disabled people.
As of 2005, The SILVA Project has already 26 pure-blooded Skyros horses, including 2 foals born this year.
SILVA is also organising Art Exhibitions in aid of the Skyros horse. In addition to the original works, reproductions in different sizes are sold to the benefit of the Skyros horse. These exhibitions take form thanks to a number of talented artists from Belgium, France, Greece and the US. The artists honour the Skyros horse and their young riders through their artworks - paintings, sculptures and art photography.
In 2005, the Horse Art exhibitions were hosted in Belgium by the Andenne Town Hall and the Gembloux Faculty of Agronomics. In Greece, the exhibitions will take place in Skyros, from the 9th to the 17th of July - at the Skyros Cultural Centre, the Primary School theatre, the ferry boat "ACHILLEAS" and possibly other locations in town. The exhibition will continue in Athens from the 13th to the 20th of September and in Corfu from the 25th of September to the 10th of October. Further exhibitions will take place in Norway and Switzerland.
For more information regarding The SILVA Project you may contact Villa SILVA, in Corfu, Greece, at +30 26610 30 280 or visit the relevant sites www.skyrianhorse.org and www.horseart.org