FIRST REPORT from Kerkrya and The Silva Project.

After a week I’m beginning to know my way around the Project and my jobs. For starts the Estate is beautiful…it’s located on the end of a little peninsula that runs south of the town of Kerkyra(Corfu) in an area known as Kanari or Cannon because it is a great place to defend the harbor. The cannon is still here. The area is considered one of the most beautiful in town.

From the estate, there are views to the east, south and west. Beautiful views. The estate has existed in some form for several hundred years and the main house is over 200 years old. There seems to be 25 or maybe even more acres. The grounds are lush with a mixture of natural and formal gardens.

Sylvia Steen owns the estate and is founder of The Sylva Project.

Just a short walk away, down a long set of stairs there’s the beach, lovely for swimming and in a few more steps there’s a little cantina (of course it’s not called that here) where a co-volunteer and I just had a beer. There is a little church on a little island which you can walk to. If you look closely you can see a plane coming in for a landing! (I shot this pix from the deck of Starbucks just down the street from the Silva entrance!) And on a longer walk you can cross to the other side of the bay that separates our peninsula on an old concrete walkway that has little bridges to allow for the movement of water.

The town of Kerkyra is about a 15 minute bus ride. Predictably the “old town” is the most interesting. I’ve only been there a couple of times, so there is more exploration to be done.

There are about 12 of us living and working here. There are some people who are here for an extended stay and then there are volunteers like me who are here for a relatively short time…a month or two. Most, but not all are in their 20s and come from the North America and Europe.

As it turns out, all the activities except the Kiwi farm are run here at the estate, including the horse program. The planned Equestrian Center is unfortunately still planned, with permits somewhere in the labyrinth of the Greek political system. So the equestrian part of the estate is pretty crowded. There are about 30 horses (including two Icelandics) and about 20 Skyrian horses. (See the first blog for a description of these horses.) We have two training rinks and a few short trails. The down side of this for me personally is that long trail rides probably won’t happen.

The Skyrians horses are amazing. As their pictures show, they are truly miniature horses…perfectly conformed with wonderful personalities. Of course, each horse has their own personality and I’m beginning to learn them, like Sunshine is lazy and nips and “be careful of Iggi, he eats anything.” And he did try to get my gloves out of my back pocket.

We work about six hours a day six days a week. So far my days have started with helping to feed the herd, mucking out the paddocks and a general cleanup. Then it’s on to tacking up the horses (getting them saddled) and ready for lessons. With some lessons I work with the instructor, leading the horse with young inexperienced riders. Students are as young as 3! There’s good opportunity to learn new things…like Tuesday I learned long lining. Long lining is where you control a horse with a normal bridle. The rains run through loops on a little piece of tack that is where the saddle would normally be and then on out up to 20 feet. Walking (or running) behind the horse, the trainer uses the rains and voice commands to control the horse. It’s great for working with a horse that isn’t saddle trained yet. And since most adults are too heavy for the Skyrian horses it’s a way for us to give them exercise.

My first ride was on Rodi, an Icelandic Gelding. Note I'm riding English with a "cute" little helmet...I tried to get away with out it, but...

I've only ridden English a couple of times before. Guess I'm gonna learn.

I’ve watched one of the instructors, Luciana work with students to improve their balance while riding. Having them close their eyes, the students move their arms, forward, backwards and upwards. I gotta try that the next time I’m riding. Luciana has said that there is no breed of horses that is better suited for working with children. I’ve also seen some of the techniques Monty Roberts (The Man Who Listens to Horses and Shy Boy) writes about.

And we’re encouraged to help in the kitchen, and since lots of neat conversation occurs there…usually with Sylvia…I’ve been enjoying that. And speaking of food it is varied and pretty good!

Since I’ve only been here about a week it’s hard to say how my job will evolve. But so far, it is interesting and challenging. I'll put up another post in a week or two.

Here are somemore pixs.
A frisky year old.

Two Islandics

First time with a halter

My first new friend

Nap time for Perly


  1. Those horses are amazing! Just got back from our Corfu holidays (booked through and we went horse riding with Trailriders, they took us through thousands of olive trees and the actual horse camp was much cuter and quainter than we expected with only a few horses (although plenty of other animals); it was more like a small country farm than a 'trekking centre' as it calls itself

  2. I'm loving your pictures.
    The place look amazing and the horses omg.. just beautiful. Thanks for sharing friend.

    corfu villas