Our equine heritage

Once again in 2017 the Festival’s explores our equine heritage and we’re delighted to again welcome along representatives of some our wonderful native breed horses and ponies. Many folk getting into smallholding (and many existing smallholders) enjoy having an equine or two around the place – and they can do a job of work too.

Equine events

We have two events during the Festival in the Equine Area:


10am – Horse logging

Caitlin, Tom and Croabh from Homestead Horse Logging will be taking centre stage in the Equine Area to talk about (Caitlin and Tom) and demonstrate (Croabh) the equipment they use in their work and how they use it.


1pm – Equine Parade

For the first time at the Festival, we’re going to ask our horsemasters to parade their wonderful horses and ponies. With a commentary by Donald McGillivray, there’s a lot to know about these native breeds, many of which are very rare.


Equine exhibition

Throughout the day visitors can see 11 native breeds of pony and horse in the Equine Area, meet the breeders and owners, and see them getting prepared for the Equine Parade which takes place at 1pm.

Homestead Horse Logging

Homestead Horse Logging is run by Caitlin Erskine, her husband Tom Newton and Craobh (pronounced kroov). Craobh is a 5-year-old French draft horse; she has only been working for one year but has taken to her job very well.

Craobh & Caitlin
Craobh & Caitlin

Caitlin has been working with horses in the woods throughout Scotland and Northern England since 2012. After they married in 2016, Tom joined the company as the full time chainsaw operator.

As a company they offer tree felling, timber extraction and a wide range of woodland and land management services.

Come along and see them at the Scottish Smallholder Festival to meet The Homestead Horse Logging Team and see what equipment they use and how they use it.


Clydesdale Horse

Our Clydesdale horse comes from the highly respected Doura Clydesdales, Ayr, courtesy of Charlotte Young and family.

2017 has been a fantastic year for Charlotte in the show ring, where she competes at the highest level in both showing and driving classes, winning 1st for Pairs and Reserve Champion Turnout at the Royal Highland Show. Their three stallions at stud picked up top honours at the National Stallion Show.

During the early part of the day, Charlotte will be dressing her Clydesdale for the parade at 1pm.


Shetland Pony

Charlotte Young is also a stalwart of the Shetland pony breed and indeed, our Shetland representative comes with her too. Shetlands make great working ponies around a smallholding, being very strong for their size.

Shetland Ponies
Shetland Ponies

Today, the Shetland pony is used mainly for riding, driving and showing but the characteristics of strength, intelligence and docility make it entirely suitable as a working pony on today’s crofts and smallholdings.


Cleveland Bay

The Cleveland Bay is one of the rarest of the British equine breeds and is listed as “Critical” on the RBST Watchlist. The breed dates back to the 14th Century, where it was developed as a packhorse for the travelling salesman or Chapman – and the horses were known as Chapman horses. Later, in the 17th Century, the breed evolved into the superior carriage horse for which Yorkshire was famed. The breed was particularly badly hit by WW1, when it was used as to draw light artillery and as officers’ horses.

Cleveland Bay
Cleveland Bay

The coming of mechanization almost finished the breed off but in 1961, HM The Queen purchased one of the last great stallions, Mulgrave Supreme, and made him available for public stud. The Cleveland Bay is now popular as a riding and driving horse and for crossbreeding with the Thoroughbred to produce quality hunters. Cleveland Bays and their crosses can be found performing successfully in almost all equestrian disciplines.

We are delighted that John and Eva Bennett from Brackenbrae Stud near Perth are once again bringing along a representative of this marvellous breed.


Highland Pony

Great to welcome Gilean Docherty back to the Festival with her Highland pony, always one of the favourites here. Hard to believe that this breed is on the RBST Watchlist as Vulnerable.

Highland Ponies
Highland Ponies

The majority of Highland ponies are used for riding and they can turn their hooves to a great variety of equestrian activities such as, riding clubs, endurance, trec, showing, driving, RDA, and of course the ultimate family pony.

As you would expect, the breed is hardy and can live outdoors all year with shelter and is a “good doer”, requiring only a forage diet.


Fell Pony

This is Robert Kirkhope’s first visit to the Festival with his Fell Pony – so a big welcome to them.

The Fell Pony is also listed as Vulnerable on the RBST Watchlist.


Eriskay Pony

The Eriskay Pony Society has been a valued supporter of the Festival since its inception in 2012.

Listed by RBST as Critically endangered, we’re delighted to welcome these lovely ponies back in 2017.

Modern Eriskay ponies are the last surviving remnants of the original native ponies of the Western Isles of Scotland. Until the middle of the 19th Century ponies of the “Western Isles type” were found throughout the islands and used as crofters ponies, undertaking everyday tasks such as bringing home peat and seaweed in basket work creels slung over their backs, pulling carts, harrowing and even taking the children to school. Over the centuries of domestication, the Eriskay ponies evolved into the hardy, versatile, people friendly characters we recognise today.

Eriskay Ponies
Eriskay Ponies

On many of the islands increasing mobility and farming pressures led to larger ponies becoming fashionable. Norwegian Fjords, Arabs, Clydesdales and others were introduced to “improve” the native stocks and produce larger, stronger animals. On the remote island of Eriskay in the Western Isles, however, due to difficulties with access, other breeds were not introduced, leaving a stock of pure bred ponies which, due to mechanisation, had declined to around 20 animals by the early 1970s.

Through the work of a group of enthusiasts, numbers have risen steadily and now there are around 420 Eriskays in the world. The Rare Breeds Survival Trust with whom the Eriskay Pony Society works closely to ensure the long-term survival of the breed classes the Eriskay Pony as critical.


Dartmoor Pony and Welsh Section A

This is Janet Litster’s third visit to the Festival with her Dartmoor pony and Welsh Section A pony and we’re grateful to her for bringing them along.

Although small, these ponies are robust and are real characters. The Dartmoor Pony is listed as Endangered.


Exmoor Pony

This is Zoe’s first time at the Festival with her Exmoor pony.

The Exmoor pony is listed as Endangered by the RBST.


New Forest Pony

There have been New Forest ponies in the Forest since the end of the last Ice Age. The Forest and the ponies are inter-dependent. Without the ponies the Forest would be very different, more overgrown with fewer birds and flowers. During the 19th Century they were regularly raced and with prizes of £5 or £10 when wages were £1.25 or less, a good pony that might race in two races in an afternoon was a valuable asset. The colts also had the reputation of being excellent harness ponies, fast trotters, strong, docile and patient. NF ponies served in South Africa with the Forest Scouts in the Boer War and performed better than regular remounts, regularly carrying 13st all day under extreme conditions.

New Forest Ponies
New Forest Ponies

Tamsin James has been a regular supporter of the Festival – both with her New Forest pony and with her fantastic poultry and waterfowl! The New Forest is a minority breed, listed by RBST.

Tamsin used to be a practising commoner in the New Forest, Hampshire with the Rights of Pasture, which is turning ponies, donkeys and cattle out onto the open Forest, and Pannage, which is turning pigs out in autumn to eat the poisonous acorns.

The pony she will be bringing to the Festival is a registered and graded mare called Crabbswood Marsha. She spent much of her life running the New Forest as a feral pony before she moved to Scotland in 2014. She is 13 years old and has just had a career change and has recently been backed as a riding pony by Tamsin.


Dales Pony

We’re delighted to welcome Helen Snowden from Essiecroft Dales Ponies to the Festival for the first time.