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

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s