By the looks of the programme set out for events planned this year, it is obvious that the Highland Pony Society has no intention of letting its centenary year pass by quietly – far from it.

Full marks to the hard-working and ambitious team of enthusiasts working behind the scenes whose work began well more than 12 months ago and not scheduled to finish until the Centenary Ball, which will be held in the ballroom at Blair Castle, in November.

The Highland Pony Society was formed in 1923 – although it was almost 40 years later that it administered an independent stud book, which is maintained to this day. Whilst traditional breeders kept their own records, the first formal published records appeared in the National Pony Society's Stud Book Volume V in 1899 and remained with the NPS until 1970.

Much water has flown under the bridge since then, talking of which, one of the society's main public displays in the summer programme will feature the Brig o' Doon, which will appear at Ingliston during Highland Show week, as part of an extravaganza and musical ride featuring Tam o' Shanter.

Arguably the most ambitious of the projects featuring a host of Highland ponies and supporting cast of enthusiasts, it will be choreographed and organised by Erik MacKechnie-Guire. While speculation is rife regarding who will play the part of Tam, I understand that there are many Highland mares more anxious about the part of Meg!

Just to whet the appetite, a Highland pony quadrille display will feature at Fife Show, in May.

While this extravaganza will hold centre stage on Saturday evening of the show, it will support the usual Highland pony breed classes both in hand and under saddle. Visitors will view the working harness competition in the main ring on Saturday and there will also be a stallion parade the following day.

Though it might appear that all Highland pony treks lead to Ingliston in June, the celebrations began in April with a stallion parade at Selby, in Yorkshire, and a 'Have a go day' for Highland ponies and their enthusiasts in Oxfordshire, also in April. A full list of events can be found on the Highland Pony Society website.

Nearer to home, Highland pony president, Sylvia Ormiston, in conjunction with the British Horse Society (Scotland) is organising a fundraising ride at Balmoral Estate where she is stud manager for HM King Charles.

The event, which includes access to tracks through the 300-year-old pine forests of the 62,000 acre Royal estate and a stud visit, takes place over the weekend May 26 and 27. A friend has already told me she plans to ride the 27 miles from her home at Rothiemurchus over the drove roads, via the Lairig Ghru, to Balmoral in order to attend.

Sylvia will also play a major role in the great spectacle of Highland ponies in working harness held at the Game Fair, at Scone Palace, on July 2.

Highland ponies enjoy a long history with Scotland's large sporting estates, so it is fitting that a formal week's celebration will be staged at Strathallan Castle, which will host the breed show on July 9 and during the week leading to that will be a conference and lunch, demonstration and stock judging, as well as the agm and barbecue.

Harking back to the Balmoral event, I am reminded that there has been a number of ponies on that estate lost since 2017 to the dreaded equine grass sickness (EGS) disease, so all the more apt that the Highland Pony Society should run an evening webinar last month on the subject. It featured Dr Beth Wells, principal researcher at the Moredun Research Institute, and vet Anne Logan, chair of the Equine Grass Sickness Fund (EGSF) an equine specialist veterinary surgeon who has vast experience both with Highland ponies and the treatment of EGS.

A week later, the fund held a well-received conference focussing on 'Working together to tackle equine grass sickness.' Offered on line as well as attendance in person, the conference was a great success, with some supeb speakers illuminating the current research work.

Key aspects of this included the EGS Biobank, which is the collection of biological (pre and post mortem) samples as well as samples from the surrounding environment where equines have succumbed to EGS. This is considered one of the keys to unlocking the successful treatment of this disease.

In this respect, it is really important that owners of horses and ponies wih EGS work with their vets to make sure samples find their way to the biobank. Another key aspect of the conference was the recognition of the major role fund-raising plays in research funding.

Interestingly, there were several Highland pony connections in presentations made on the day, with the first going to Melody Ashcroft, of Heald Town Highland Pony Stud, winner of the Heidi Award for outstanding support to EGSF in the North of England.

The Trowan Trophy – inspired by the late Robert Davidson, from Crieff, one of Scotland's best loved Highland Pony breeders, who, himself was a great fund-raiser – was then awarded to Carrie Bain, of Harelaw Equestrian Centre. Over the years, she and her team at Harelaw have raised more than £36,000 for the EGSF.

Among several silver salvers for fundraising efforts was one to Aberdeenshire, where the Crathes EGS Charity Show raises considerable funds each year in June.

It's that time of year when horse and pony owners in prevalent areas have to be particularly vigilant for EGS, something that came home to me recently when a friend in Caithness told me that her otherwise vibrant young Welsh colt has been the latest victim.

Sadly, we have lost two ponies to the disease and well aware that this area of West Fife is one of the identified regions of Scotland where EGS is prevailed. Rightly or wrongly, in a bid to help our ponies survive the disease, we make sure that they all have dry food available on a daily basis right through to early summer when mares and foals spend their first nights under the stars. Clutching at straws, I know, but straws well worth clutching in our view.

If only the answer to grass sickness was as simple as that – for we know that it isn't. It is a disease with complex origins yet to be identified which makes fund raising all the more crucial.