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Nassau Tribune: Bahamian Horses In Trouble
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Posted by:Jul 26th 2004, 06:51:53 pm
Fig Tree News TeamGalloping To the Aid of Abaco’s Rare Horses

Local scout troops in Abaco are attempting to bring awareness to a dying breed of horses, along with their significance to the Bahamas.

An endangered species is getting a preservation boost from locals and tourists in Abaco. Local scout troops in Abaco have partnered with Arkwild Incorporated, a non-profit organisation responsible for caring for and preserving the Abaco Barbs, in an attempt to create awareness about the dying breed of horses and their significance to the Bahamas.

“Our boys and girls in Abaco were given the task of cleaning and clearing a part of the sanctuary for the horses,’' said Winston Newton, director of the Scout Association of the Bahamas.

“Since then, the association has been trying to promote the significance of having these endangered species in their back yard and the importance of keeping them alive.’'

Mr Newton said that because the 120 scouts in Abaco are working towards preserving the rare breed, they are not allowed to come into contact with the animals.

“We´re trying to affect the least amount of human contact as possible,’' he said. “The idea behind the horses are to put them in an environment as natural as possible away from people.’'

Mr Newton explained that the horses were living in Abaco in the forest for hundreds of years and surviving.

“The minute they became domesticated,’' he said, “then the horses began to deplete.’'

The Abaco Barb is a breed of pinto, bay and roan horses that have called the Abacos their home for more than 500 years.

Once more than 200 in number, they are said to be descendants of Spanish Barbs - the horses used by Christopher Columbus an his men to explore the New World.

Now, the 12 Barbs left on the island are being aided by the local scouts and one determined tourist to ensure a successful repopulating of the heard.

Milanne Rehor also known as “Meme’' said the heard of horses sparked her interest back in 1992 when she visited the island. Since then the herd has not produced a foal.

“We've had some problems both before they moved and after they moved,’' she explained. “Problems left over from their former environment.’'

Meme said that years ago, the Barbs were taken out of their natural forest habitat and placed on a farm.

Prior to Hurricane Floyd, the Barbs were free to go back and forth between the farm and the forest but after Floyd´s devastating affect, the horses were confined to the farm.

“The unfortunate result of this was similar to if you took an Olympic athlete and locked them in a candy shop,’' she said.

“Because the horses no longer went into the forest and stayed on the farm eating food that was too rich and originally planted for cattle, this resulted in obesity, bad hoof problems and an inability to reproduce so we´ve not had a foal since Floyd.’'

Now, just 12 years later, Ms Rehor said the horses are doing much better and are expected to begin reproducing as early as December.

“We´ve come a long, long way,’' she said. “We´ve got an amazing vet who is volunteering her services with our local veterinarian. The horses have lost the weight and now we have to build them back up.’'

Meme said that out of the 3,800 acres given to the barbs by the Bahamas Government in 2002, almost 200 acres have been fenced off to help keep the horses in the area.

Source: Vanessa Clarke, The Tribune

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