Edinburgh mother and daughter fight to save rare Skyrian horses

An Edinburgh veteran and her daughter are leading the charge to save one of the world's most endangered horses from extinction.

Saturday, 8th September 2018, 7:00 am
Adara has won followers from around the world. Picture: Contributed

Horse enthusiasts Mandy Burgen and her daughter Kayleigh have taken the reigns in a bid to save the Skyros, after the family bought Adara this year, one of just two hundred of the rare breed of Skyrian horses left in the world.

Two-year-old Adara won the hearts of Mandy and her family instantly. The small horse quickly became the face of a drive to save her kind, after an impressive run in her first ever show season.

Mandy, who served six years in the Royal Army Vetenary Corps, said; “When we bought Adara we fell in love. I worked with horses, did equine courses and have done riding all my life. But I had never seen her breed. Adara has a special place in our hearts and could make history.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“She is super intelligent, very social and loves human company. But even in equine circles, the breed is not well known. The more I found out the more sad it became. I had to do something to save her kind.”

Since the family adopted Adara in February the showstopper has already filled a cabinet with rosettes and has gained followers from around the world, attracting attention to the plight of Skyrians.

Kayleigh, a forensic psychology student said, “Adara turns heads. She is just two and has performed in the ring at six shows.

“It’s her first ever season in the ring. But she has stolen the show! She qualified twice for Championship and came fourth overall for Scotland.”

“Adara has followers all round world. We recently reunited her with her half sister! It’s amazing that one little horse has got such a response. She is now the face of team Skyrian!”

The Skyrian breed was on critically endangered list couple of years ago. Today, the Skyrian is one of the rarest horse breeds in the world. It’s estimated that there are around 30 to 40 in UK.

But Mandy and her family are on track to build up Scotland’s only herd of the endangered breed. This month Adara will be joined by four other Skyrians, gifted by vet Sheilagh Nesbit.

Ioli, Bambouras, Bakiri and Anastasia will be leaving their Jedburgh herd for their new home with Adara in Edinburgh next month.

After getting all five Skyrians out to show, Kayleigh. Mandy and her husband Malcolm plan to set up a charity and run a facility where they will breed Skyrians. Mandy said, “Getting them in shows is our first step to getting the breed recognised. If we can get them registered as an official breed by DEFRA then we can start setting up a breeding programme.”

“And with our own facility we can create a safe haven.”

The breed is originally from the Island of Skyros in Greece and have a history steeped in folklore and myth. It’s even said that they are the horses that pulled Achilles’ chariot.

Mandy said, “It would be huge turning point in history for this breed in Scotland if we succeed.

“The clock is ticking to save them. I want to be able to look in our fields and see Adara has a secure future.”