Nunki is the last Spanish Colonial horse in the world...
In 2007 and 2009 The Bahamas Weekly ran features on the wild horses of Abaco. At that time there were 8 remaining of the rare breed, the Spanish Barb who were said to be introduced to the Americas by Spanish explorers during the time of Columbus.
With what started as a herd of 200 has now reduced to only 1. Over the course of 40+ years there was a progressive reduction due to many factors.
After hearing the breed was down to one horse, The Bahamas Weekly once again contacted Mimi to provide an update.
"During the last five years all but one of the Abaco Spanish Colonial Horses on Abaco have died. Apparently from livers destroyed by over exposure to pesticides and possibly to toxic plants during their time on a citrus farm. Definitive genetic testing has proved that they were Spanish Colonials, a breed that is considered rare, yet these were the horses that conquered the New World. They came direct from Cuba where Spanish noblemen had established horse farms right after Columbus’ voyages.
"The horses were brought to Abaco in the late 1800’s to drag logs during the first clear cutting of the forest on Abaco. By the 1940s when the second cutting took place tractors were introduced and the horses were abandoned. Three horses were rescued after a slaughter in the 1960’s that destroyed approximately 200 horses. The herd came back but Hurricane Floyd, which did not kill any horses, but set the stage for the drastic decline. More details of their history can be found HERE.
Mimi by the wild horses of Abaco (Photo: Meghan Balogh)
"The last horse, a 19 year old mare named Nunki, is under 24/7 care at the Horse Preserve in Treasure Cay. Recently she has been struggling with a gut infection brought on by antibiotics prescribed for a cut leg. She has undergone various treatments and in early February she showed the first signs of beating the infection.
"The herd can be reestablished. Vets and experts in the US are ready to harvest Nunki’s eggs (yes, she still can conceive and could carry a foal), mix them with sperm from a DNA appropriate stallion (already selected) make embryos which then can be implanted in surrogate mares. (No decision has been made as to whether Nunki should carry a foal). In addition to the rare Spanish Colonial genes Nunki also carries a gene for Splash White coloring, and could produce another pinto foal with blue eyes. Half the original Abaco herd was made up of these equally rare paints and they too could make a comeback.
"Pro bono help has come from many, many experts in the US, making the plan a realistic one. Funds are needed for the 24/7 maintenance of the Preserve. This amazing, nowhere else in the world branch of the Spanish Colonial Horse CAN come back to Abaco. Don't just follow the story....be part of the glory! Help us restore this breed!