Louisiana Wild Horses, Rare world-wide?

As many of you may know we have been working with geneticists to understand the significance of Louisiana’s Wild Horses found in Kisatchie National Forest / Fort Polk military base.

Dr Gus Cothran and Dr. Phillip Sponenberg have recently made some very impactful statements and I wanted to share with you!

Leading Equine Geneticists

From the results so far, the Fort Polk and Peason horses appear to be from the same population. That is, DNA has not picked up any distinctions that I know of, at least to this date. As a group they are closest to horses in Colombia, Venezuela, and Peru. Among all horses across the globe the Colombian ones stand out as fairly unique, so this is a bit unexpected but is also significant.  In light of these findings (and more would always be better!) I think it is fair to say that of the populations in North America the Fort Polk/ Peason Ridge horses stand out as being closest to the important Caribbean/Colombian root. It was surprising to me that no close connection was found with Tennessee Walking Horses or other relatively local American breeds. They are therefore a genetic resource of horses that is distinct from others that are available in North America. This uniqueness makes them a relatively high priority for conservation. Pulling a conservation effort together will be a challenge, but success would assure that this unique resource does not become extinct.

 Dr. Sponenberg, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine Virginia Tech

The two groups from Fort Polk are more like each other than like any other horse type we compared them to but what that means is that they have the same origin…. The Fort Polk horses show closest resemblance to Spanish derived breeds which means they also have a Spanish background and potentially could be considered Colonial Spanish. Again, only minimal numbers have been tested so conclusions are subject to re-evaluation. These preliminary observations indicate that the horses should be preserved because they may represent the Colonial Spanish horse type which is rare world-wide. 

– Dr. Gus Cothran, professor emeritus at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) 

Your Support is More Critical Now Than Ever!

Our mission is and has always been to secure a future for Louisiana’s Wild Horses.  We can accomplish this by getting these horses the recognition and protections that are needed to ensure we do not lose this unique Louisiana treasure. 

While other organizations have acquired groups of Louisiana’s Wild horses from documented removals, Pegasus Equine Guardian Association is the only organization whose sole focus is on Louisiana’s Wild Horses and we are committed through thought and action to not only preservation but also ensuring their long term welfare. 

What are our needs?

I’m looking for any ideas and assistance in fundraising & grant writing. If you or someone you know would be interested in making an impact for these biologically and culturally unique horses, please let us know by emailing me at admin@pegasusequine.org

Our immediate needs are:

  • Donations for continuing the genetic analysis and vetting. We will need to collect DNA samples from several horses. This will require hauling to a vetting facility and a team of professionals.
  • Hay / Feed Fund in preparation for winter.
  • 4 more 10ft feed troughs

I’m thrilled over these endorsements! I just need more people in Louisiana to know and understand what this means and how truly worthy of conservation these horses are. approximately 25 horses have been tested by Dr Corthan using hair samples. Which is what the above post is about. 

In addition, approximately 28 blood samples were sent to Dr Samantha Brooks of Brooks Equine at University of FL (some horses we collected both blood and hair from.) A select few from this test was sent to Dr Orlando in France to be part of a global study. The results of the analysis in France has not been published yet.

That’s only 7% of all horses removed (approx 360 removed in official documented round ups).

Sadly some organizations that took horses were not willing to collect samples. Which is a shame.
All samples were taken from horses that were part of official documented round ups. These horses are no longer living on base as the Army forced the removal.

Status of horse population…. The Army has removed almost every horse from the North Fort area. There are still wild horses on the Peason Ridge area. rough estimate would be somewhere in the 200s but I can not confirm an exact number remaining.

The army had a solicitation for removal on the federal contracting site back in Sept 2020. Several groups submitted bids but purchase order contract was awarded to Tarver Land Development, LLC under number W9126G-20-P-0156 for a base year amount of $234,050. The contract award also included option years 1 through 4. The total value was approx 1.2 mil

However we have not received any information about round ups since. It is unclear if they are proceeding. We hope they will reconsider based on these new endorsements.

This is not something to destroy, this is another truly amazing and unique thing about Louisiana that should be protected. It is possible theses horses have links to horses far older that anyone realizes, we just ask for the cooperation of the Army, USFS, as well as Political Officials to allow us all to truly understand their significance and support us in our mission to ensure the future of Louisiana’s Wild Horses.

Amy Hanchey, President, Pegasus Equine Guardian Association.

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