Efforts are under way to preserve the Marsh Tacky, a breed that descends from colonial Spanish horses brought to South Carolina in the 1600s.
In 2007 State Rep. Catherine Ceips (R-Beaufort) introduced legislation to recognize the Marsh Tacky as the official horse of South Carolina, and advocates are in the process of defining breed standards.
"If we don't get organized, these horses will disappear through crossbreeding," says Jeannette Beranger, research and technical programs manager for the American Livestock Breeds
Conservancy (ALBC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving rare animals.
"Historically, Tackies were used for riding, pulling and plowing and are known for their utility and easy keeping," says Beranger. "They are good mounts for hunting or trail riding because they traverse swamps and water obstacles without panicking."
Similar to the Florida Cracker, the Marsh Tacky typically stands 13 to 15 hands, has a straight or concave profile, a sloped croup and low tail set. The chest of a Marsh Tacky tends to be deep but comparatively narrow, with the front legs forming an "A" shape.
Beranger estimates that 200 Marsh Tackies remain in South Carolina. This, she says, is enough to start a studbook and association: "We think we have three [blood]lines but hope to identify six total."
This article originally appeared in the April 2007 issue of EQUUS magazine. Read more about recognition for rare Spanish breeds in the July 2008 issue of EQUUS.