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

Carriage horse dies in city street in the Bahamas

Dead Carriage Horse Bahamas. Tribune 424 Image.
Carriage horse known as Bloody Mary drops dead in a city street in Nassau, Bahamas. Police reportedly insisted that the driver drag her body away. The article does not say what they did with her remains. Tribune 424 Image.

WRITTEN BY DANA SMITH

Cross-posted from Tribune 424

ONLOOKERS watched in horror as a surrey horse, with tourists, collapsed and died on the corner of Dowdeswell and Christie Streets yesterday afternoon.

One woman, who asked to remain anonymous, called the scene “disturbing” and called for an investigation into the working conditions for horses.

“It was just so disturbing looking at that horse,” she said. “It’s a poor reflection on our society because that horse looked hungry, it looked starved and we need to do better.

“Those guys downtown need to be investigated. We need to shed the light on that.”

According to eyewitnesses, the animal was a 22-year-old female named Bloody Mary who was drawing a yellow and blue surrey – one of downtown Nassau’s première attractions.

After the horse’s collapse, [she] was tied to the back of a truck and dragged out of the street reportedly at the insistence of the police. Continue reading >>

Mysterious disappearance of Wild Horses in Eleuthera

Flag of the Bahamas

Cross-posted from The Tribune

Written by MEGAN REYNOLDS

ELEUTHERA, Bahamas — THE mysterious disappearance of nearly a dozen wild horses who once wandered through hundreds of acres in south Eleuthera has sparked a local police investigation.

Concerned animal rights activists fear farmers who complain the wild horses are eating their crops and harming their industry have captured and killed the animals, or sent them off to be ridden at tourist resorts.

The burnt body of a young foal, under eight months old, was found two weeks ago, and the grey stallion who had led the smaller of two herds on the island is said to have been shot, “because he was too ‘bigitty’.”

An animal rights activist, who does not want to be named for fear of reprisals, also suspects poisoned bananas have been left out for the animals.

“I don’t know if any of it is true but the horses are disappearing and it’s very mysterious,” she said.

“We don’t know what has happened to them, it’s a mystery and it’s really sad.

“They are the most beautiful things and they have just been brutalised.

“Police are working on it to find out what the real truth is, but they have no proof so far.”

Farmers have complained the horses were eating their banana crops and when they spoke up about how the animals were harming their livelihood the government department of agriculture sent the farmers wire fencing to protect their crops.

But the farmers are said to have chosen not to erect the fences and may be targeting the horses instead, the animal rights advocate said.

Evidence of animal cruelty was made clear when a colt, a male foal, was tied to a tree by his left leg which snapped when he was startled and tried to run, the animal advocate said. People nursed the colt back to health over six months before they released him in the wild, but now he also seems to have vanished, sources said.

Legislation protects wild horses from being harassed under the Wild Animal Protection Act and police in Governor’s Harbour are actively working to enforce it. Read more >>