The Mystical Highland Pony

Jan 13, 2021 | Print of the month! | 0 comments

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For the last few years, I have been photographing rare breeds across the country capturing both semi-wild and domesticated horses on film. When my project “Wild Hearts” is complete, it will hopefully help raise the profile of native breeds (some of which are facing possible extinction.)

Each month, I will be releasing an extra special print which will be available for four weeks only. This print is unmounted, printed on beautiful Hahnemuhle archival printing papers, signed and numbered by myself. Print of the Month is limited to 25 prints only on a first come first served basis.

My first print is called ‘The Highland’ which, as the title suggests, is a beautiful fine art print of the Highland Pony. Taken from my ever-increasing collection called Wild Hearts. This is currently one of my favourite prints. When I met this magical horse in Scotland I swear this horse could fly! I decided to enhance this magical horse by darkening the detail of most of the background allowing just enough detail to peep through; Focusing on this horse glide through the Highlands of beautiful Scotland. 

The Highland Pony is one of the two native pony breeds of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. It has adapted over many centuries to the variable and often severe climatic and environmental conditions of Scotland. The winter coat consists of a layer of strong, badger like hair over a soft, dense undercoat which enables this breed of pony to live out in all weathers. This coat is shed in the spring to reveal a smooth summer coat. This essential hardiness is combined with a kindly nature and an even temperament. It is a breed loved by many, including her majesty the Queen whom owns a herd of Highland Ponies at The Balmoral Estate as the Patron of the Highland Pony Society.

However, the Highland Pony is currently on the Vunerable watch list at the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (estimated 500-900 alive.) The RBST Watchlist is a document showing the rarity of the UK’s native breeds of mammal. Every year, RBST collects data from over 130 breed societies including the number of males and females registered. This data is used to estimate the number of registered breeding females in the UK for each breed. 

Highland Pony Breed Description from The Highland Pony Society

The Highland Pony is a strong, well balanced, compact pony with all its features being in proportion to its height. It is one of the largest of the British Native Breeds and should show substance and strength.

Height: Not to exceed 14.2hh (148cms).

Head: Well carried and alert with kindly eye. Broad muzzled with a deep jowl.

Neck and Shoulders: Reasonable length of neck from wither with a good sloping shoulder and well placed forearm.

Body: Well balanced and compact with plenty of room for heart and lungs. Ribs well sprung.

Quarters and Hindlegs: Powerful quarters with well developed thigh, strong second thigh and clean flat hocks.

Legs: Flat hard bone, broad knees, short cannon bones, oblique pasterns and well shaped broad dark hoofs. Feather soft and silky.

Mane and Tail: Hair should be natural, flowing and untrimmed with a full tail.

Colours: A range of duns, mouse, yellow, grey, cream. Also grey, brown, black, bay and occasionally liver chestnut with silver mane and tail. Many ponies have a dorsal stripe and some show zebra markings on legs and shoulder. Foal coat colour often changes and many ponies change colour gradually as they grow older, especially those with grey hairs interspersed with the original colour. Others show a slight seasonal change in colour between winter and summer coats. Broken colours are not allowed. A small star is acceptable but other white markings are discouraged.

N.B. STALLIONS with white markings other than a small star are NOT eligible for licensing.

Action: Straight and free moving without undue knee action.

Capabilities: A ride, drive and pack animal which can adapt to many equestrian disciplines.

Personally, the Highland pony is a magical breed, to see a Highland Pony galloping within their natural habitat across the Highlands is a sight of wonder and conjures up many Celtic mythical tales of unicorns and distance lands.

When I captured this photograph of The Highland pony I couldn’t take my eyes off her as she galloped , with flowing mane and tail in all her glory, I had butterflies in my stomach at such beautiful sight. In Celtic mythology unicorns are synonymous of purity and unrivalled strength.

I hope you agree that the Highland Pony certainly displays these qualities and more. If you would like to purchase The Highland print of the month please click this link – The Highland

Esther x


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