Colonial Spanish horses possess an iconic conformation that sets them apart from other breeds. From a distance they appear tall and delicately made, with straight to convex heads.
Some feral herds bred from Colonial Spanish type horses may prove valuable conservation sources in the future; however, it’s impossible to know for certain whether a particular herd or individual horse has been bred according to true type breeding patterns.
The Marsh Tacky is a small primitive horse breed native to coastal islands of South Carolina and Georgia, originally part of the Colonial Spanish group of breeds. It has strong links with Florida Cracker horses, Banker Horses from North Carolina and several other surviving Southern breeds such as Roans or Duns bred from these horses as well. These horses typically appear bay or chestnut with either roans or duns with smooth gaits; although over time many have begun deviating from traditional Colonial Spanish types – for instance; their cannon bones feature round cross sections instead of more typical rectangular shapes compared with traditional Colonial Spanish types.
As rare horses are integral parts of Gullah culture, these horses play an essential role. From working the land and transporting families to church services to racing them on Mitchelville Beach. Cohen Sr. established the Marsh Tacky Run four years ago to preserve this heritage; DNA analysis indicates that his stud, Sonny is indeed descended from those that once roamed freely on Dafuskie Island.
Jeannette Beranger, director of breed management for the American Livestock Breed Conservancy, advised that for a horse to qualify as a marsh tacky it must undergo both visual inspection and provide DNA sample, while its owner must provide pedigree details proving purebred status. Unfortunately for Sonny’s conservancy this has never happened with either family providing either.
Banker Ponies are semi-feral horses found on North Carolina’s Outer Banks barrier islands. Although semi-feral, these hardy yet gentle animals can be trained for riding. Genetically related to South Carolina Marsh Tacky horses and Florida Cracker horses due to Colonial Spanish and Iberian heritage; as well as being domesticated breeds like Pryor Mountain Mustang and Paso Fino horses.
No one knows for certain where these horses came from; however, many speculate they arrived with European explorers during the 16th and 17th centuries. It is thought they either swam to shore or were abandoned on beaches after ships wrecked nearby; due to isolation on Outer Banks islands it remains likely they are purebred horses today.
Banker Ponies may appear feral, but their gentle nature makes them popular with children as riding partners. Ocracoke Island visitors and visitors to other nearby islands flock to Ocracoke to see these gentle horses cared for by both National Park Service and local organizations, monitoring to prevent overgrazing, disease transmission, inbreeding, overpopulation and competition for food between herds. Although protected against individual purchase they can still be adopted from organizations working with them.
Lake La Croix Pony
The Lake La Croix Pony is a breed of semi-feral ponies that once roamed free in the boreal forests of northern Ontario and Minnesota. Bred for winter transportation, running trap lines or pulling sleighs by Ojibwa tribesmen as winter transportation, they have an easygoing spirit with exceptional common sense, making them easy to work with and maintain while remaining durable, intelligent, playful, intelligent creatures with playful temperaments – ideal companionships that add joyous rides!
These horses feature small iron-hard hooves and long, thick mane and tail. Their distinctive heads tend to feature some convexity with an alert-flaring nose when in motion or alert mode – qualities which contribute significantly to genetic conservation efforts. They are an exceptional breed worth protecting.
Contrary to most breeds, Colonial Spanish Horse herds do not utilize a registry as they do not fit well within existing studbooks; eventually their herds begin shifting away from classic Spanish colonial traits over time; an example being Wilbur-Cruce herd.
SMR and SSMA do have an approach for conserving herds that are close to the original colonial Spanish type, including inspection and history as well as breeding programs with demonstrably pure horses.
The Sulphur herd exhibits exceptional Spanish conformation and coloring. Their breed standard calls for them to stand between 13.1-15.1 hands tall with medium length narrow heads featuring non-prominent lower jaws; ears medium in length that have clean cut bases; deep, well inserted necks between shoulders.
These horses are famed for their long, fluid strides and poll flex. Easily trained, these horses possess the natural ability to collect themselves and can be taught quickly. As well as being highly durable animals that thrive even under harsh conditions, Sulphur herd provides food sources to mule deer and Rocky Mountain elk populations, competing with wild horse populations for sustenance sources.
Sulphur herd horses typically feature dun colors, although bay, sorrel and grullo shades may also exist. Some possess distinctive dorsal striping and tiger stripe legs common on wild tarpan horses that have since gone extinct.
Sulphur herd possesses its own set of genetic characteristics that should be managed to enhance them. BLM should establish target population levels to ensure the herd can maintain itself without needing introductions from outside herds. Other populations of Spanish phenotype feral horses include those at Pryor Mountain in Montana; Marble Canyon in Arizona; and Kiger, Oregon.