The extinct horses of Great Abaco Island may live again

Abaco horses were either roans or blue-eyed “splash white” pintos. © ARND BRONKHORST.
Abaco horses were either roans or blue-eyed “splash white” pintos. © ARND BRONKHORST.

WILD HORSES (Atlas Obscura) — An impending storm darkens the sky above the splintered canopy of Caribbean pines.

Milanne “Mimi” Rehor points out plants that once sustained the herd of wild horses that inhabited this limestone crescent in the northern Bahamas until just two years ago. “Palm fronds. They ate the palms, and briars, and of course the grass,” she says, and then nods toward a shiny green tree on the edge of the road. “Also this. Don’t brush up against this. It’ll give you blisters. Poisonwood. But after fires, the horses used to eat this, too, once the oils burned off.”

Equines long roamed the forests that blanket Great Abaco Island, but the last horse died in 2015, marking the extinction of a historically and genetically significant sub-breed of the threatened Colonial Spanish Horse. The Abaco Barb, like most feral equines, was compact and sturdy thanks to generations of surviving in the wild. The horses stood about 13.2 to 14.2 hands (54 to 58 inches) at the withers and each weighed an average of 800 pounds. Their feet were hard and well-shaped from trekking across the island’s rocky surface in search of food.

However, unlike most other wild horses in the Americas, the Abaco Barb spent generations in geographic isolation. According to equine geneticist Gus Cothran, who analyzed the DNA of 22 Abaco Barbs for Rehor in the 1990s, the horses were little changed from those brought across the Atlantic more than five-hundred years ago.

About half were blue-eyed “splash white” pintos, with belts and bonnets of white thrown against a brown hair base. Others were roans, with ivory hairs running throughout mahogany or copper coats, giving them a faded appearance.

Most were “gaited,” meaning that in addition to the four types of movements most horses use (walk, trot, canter, and gallop), they had the capacity for very smooth lateral gaits in which both legs on each side move in unison. Similar movements are seen in other horses with old roots, including Paso Finos, but not in more modern Spanish breeds.

Though the Abaco Barb thrived on the island for generations, beginning in the 1960s, human actions and environmental changes weakened the herd and ultimately led to [their] demise.

Today, Rehor still fights to maintain her vision of returning Abaco Barbs to their island via cloning. Read more »

Nunki, last of the Great Abaco Island Wild Horses, now extinct. Cloning the only way to bring them back?
Nunki, last of the Great Abaco Island Wild Horses, now extinct. Cloning the only way to bring them back?

We recommend you read this entire fascinating story »

America’s Wild Horses

TAKE ACTION

The U.S. federal government want to wipe out America’s remaining wild herds and murder the close to 100,000 they have mercilessly rounded up and imprisoned costing the taxpayer millions every year.

And that is why they want to murder them they say — because these horses are costing the taxpayer millions. Why? It is all thanks to the willfully cruel and negligent management of these horses by the federal government who needlessly put these horses where they are.

Please note. This ongoing unjustified mayhem and unilateral destruction of America’s iconic Mustangs continues on the taxpayer dime no matter who sits in the Oval Office. What lobby is behind this destruction regardless of who is President or what party is seemingly “in power”?

They must be exposed and stopped. Take citizen action. Lobby your lawmakers in Washington D.C. today on behalf of wild horses and burros. It is their job to make your voice heard. If they do not, vote them out of there.

Make a donation to the Horse Fund’s Horse on the Hill™ »

WHITE PAPER

Use your U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators’ online contact form to leave a link to the Wild Horse Freedom Federations’s White Paper (http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/White-Paper.pdf) and ask them to vote against killing wild horses and burros in long-term holding or using them as work and experimental animals.

Please do it today. These horses cannot afford for you to wait. It truly does no get much more urgent than this. Help.

Find Your U.S. Senators »
Find Your U.S. Representative (you will need your zip code +4) »

Please store this information so you don’t need to keep looking it up, i.e. create a contact group on your phone with all the information you need for these people.

Read more on White Paper here »

Updated 4:49 pm EST

Horse sorers drop lawsuit against Blount County animal welfare group

Image from 2015 HSUS Horse Soring Investigation.
Image from 2015 HSUS Horse Soring Investigation.

BLOUNT COUNTY, TENNESSEE (Horse Soring) — You can’t make this stuff up. Who could believe it?

The Daily Times reports:

Caslon Quote Left Black Several horse owners suing a nonprofit Blount County animal welfare group over the seizure of their horses from Larry Wheelon Stables in 2013 have decided to drop their lawsuit.

Maryville attorney Rob White filed the $2.1 million lawsuit against the Blount County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BCSPCA) on April 25, 2014 — exactly a year after the organization seized 19 horses from a Maryville barn as part of an investigation into allegations of illegal soring practices.

The horses were returned to their owners in late 2013 after a Blount County judge threw out the original case against Wheelon and several stable workers. They were later indicted by a Blount County grand jury, but the cases were dismissed yet again.

Larry Joe Wheelon. Photo: The Daily Times.
Larry Joe Wheelon. Photo: The Daily Times.

One was thrown out due to insufficient evidence, one because the defendant died in a car crash and the two remaining cases — including the case against Wheelon — were tossed by a Blount County judge who found constitutional rights violations in the investigation.

White said his clients moved to dismiss the BCSPCA lawsuit without prejudice, meaning they have the option to refile the litigation within a year’s time.

“We’re basically wanting to back off right now and assess where we’re at and decide what action we want to take, if any,” White told The Daily Times on Wednesday.

One of the seven horse owners, Kenneth Smith, dropped his case against the BCSPCA in December. White filed a notice of voluntary dismissal July 6 on behalf of the six remaining plaintiffs, Rebecca and William Andrews, Rodney Koger, Bobbie Jo Koger, Dwight Brooks and Joe Barnes.

Wheelon and Rodney Koger were arrested earlier this year in Fentress County on numerous animal cruelty charges. The two were indicted by a Fentress County grand jury in June on 26 counts each of animal cruelty.

Read more »

This is horse soring.

Related Reading

Go here for more on Larry Wheelon »

Horse Soring

Soring is the use of chemicals, pressure or devices to cause pain to the front feet and legs of horses when they touch the ground. This results in the horses picking up their front feet higher and faster than they would do naturally. It is an abusive and prohibited practice, illegal in the U.S. under the Horse Protection Act of 1970 (HPA). It is closely associated with a unique high-stepping action of the front legs called “big lick” movement in show ring Tennessee Walking Horses.

Under normal circumstances, “big lick” action is normally created by horseshoes that have added pads and weight (sometimes called “stacks”), usually combined with additional weighted chains or rollers placed around the pasterns to create dramatic, high-stepping flashy action of the horse’s front legs, desired in the horse show ring.

Both criminal and civil penalties can be assessed against individuals who engage in soring.

Banana Chai Smoothie Parfait recipe by I Love Vegan

Banana Chai Smoothie Parfait by Brittany at I Love Vegan. Click image to go there now!
Banana Chai Smoothie Parfait by Brittany at I Love Vegan. Click image to go there now!

ADVOCATE FROM YOUR PLATE — It is so hot. We are so busy, talking, talking … talking! And we haven’t had a vegan recipe here for ages. Boy do we need something cool and refreshing and tasty. And here it is. How about you?

Banana Chai Smoothie Parfait

A deliciously frosty, naturally sweetened, and lightly spiced smoothie parfait topped with crunchy granola, fresh blueberries, chopped apricots, and maple syrup. Serves 2.
Author: Brittany at ilovevegan.com
Cuisine: Vegan

INGREDIENTS

Banana Chai Smoothie Parfait
5 frozen bananas
1 cup chai tea ice cubes (directions in notes)
2 tbsp coconut cream or coconut yogurt
1 tbsp almond butter
6 pitted dates
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 pinch cinnamon
1 pinch dried ginger

Toppings
granola
coconut yogurt
fresh blueberries
chopped apricots
maple syrup (Pure Infused’s Lavender Chai is a great way to enhance the chai flavour!)

Go here for instructions and more delicious images »

To recess or not to recess; to call or not to call

US Capitol Dome and Flag.
US Capitol Dome and Flag. Click to donate to The Horse Fund. Thank you.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — August is typically a time when Congress adjourns for the month and lawmakers return to their constituencies — or in other words, go home.

This is not a typical Congress and August it seems will not be a typical month. Senators are probably the least likely to get out of town even though they seem hard to find except for Sen. Mitch McConnell who is probably afraid to go home.

It may not seem like a good to call. Anytime is a good time!

Offices continue to be staffed regardless of our lawmakers’ whereabouts, so please continue to call. If you cannot connect with anyone at your lawmakers’ D.C. offices, then please call them at their local office nearest you.

Look up your two U.S. Senators here »

Look up your U.S. Representatives here (need your zip +4 code) »

Please continue calling the U.S. House to end horse slaughter »

Join the Horse on the Hill™ Gang »

In the meantime, D.C. appears to be melting down quicker than the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.  And not from the heat outside.

The Washington Post reports:

Talks between the White House and the Senate’s top Republican and Democrat broke up Tuesday with no progress on raising the country’s debt ceiling, an impasse that threatens a financial crisis if left unresolved.

The Senate and House have 12 joint working days before Sept. 29, when the Treasury Department says it would no longer be able to pay all of the government’s bills unless Congress acts. A default would likely set off a major disruption to the world financial system, with a stock market crash and surging interest rates that could send the economy into a recession.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has urged Congress for months to raise the debt limit, but the White House has lacked a unified message and run into resistance on Capitol Hill, where Democrats and Republicans are at odds on key tax and spending issues.

Diversionary Tactic?

This is possibly a diversionary tactic so we worry while certain among them go about their dirty work unnoticed.

Stay Focused

Do not let this allow you to take your eye off the ball. Keep the pressure on legislators. Don’t let them get away with a darn thing.

Calling all Americans to call their lawmakers in Washington to take a strong stand on behalf of American horses. Photographer unknown.
Calling all Americans to call their lawmakers in Washington to take a strong stand on behalf of American horses. Photographer unknown.

Online Contact

We are not unsympathetic and realize there are some of you who do not feel comfortable making phone calls.

This is a good time to use your lawmakers online contact form. Use the “Look up …” links above to find them. Tip: Write up what you want to say. Review it until you are comfortable. Copy and paste!

Our Legislative Wish List

Here are a few items on our Legislative Wish List for horses. We feel they are all reasonable and doable. What do you want? Add yours in comments.

  1. We want horse slaughter banned.
  2. We want the export of horses for slaughter banned.
  3. We want federally protected wild horses and burros left on public lands to live out their lives at liberty, unharassed by the federal government, as the original law intended.
  4. We want a humane plan developed and implemented to relocate wild horses and burros currently stockpiled  by the federal government and its contractors back to their original lands, or lands similar to the ones they were taken from.
  5. We want our wild horses and burros made safe from any form of human use or interference.
  6. We want the Horse Protection Act strengthened so there is not a single loophole wherein serial animal abusers can get away with the obnoxious and grossly cruel practice of horse soring.
  7. We want a federally appointed Commissioner of Horse Racing to govern what has become a massively abusive and murderous industry rife with drugging and cheating who is also empowered to work with federal authorities to send its culprits to jail for race fixing among other egregious crimes.

What would you like to see? Join us in comments.

Take Action in Your State

Action at the State level concerning slaughter and live export for slaughter is also critical in case we have any sort of failure at the Federal level.

Learn how here »

Thank you everyone. You are massively important to the success of these campaigns and we appreciate your efforts.