About Abaco Barb Horses
Abaco Barb Horses are from the Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas.
They are believed to be descended from horses from more than a dozen shipwrecks
during the Spanish colonization of the Americas and the Caribbean during the 15th
and 16th centuries.
Some horse breed historians also believe that the Barb horse
breed originated in northern Africa during the 8th century and Abaco
Barbs are often commonly confused with Arabian breeds. Due to their extreme
isolation on the Great Abaco Island, their bloodlines remained relatively pure,
making them an important genetic link as the first Iberian horses to reach the New World. These horses brought
genetics that were present during the Golden Age of Spain at the time the New
World was being settled.
Abaco Barb Horses once numbered over 200 and lived wild on
the island. But most of them died. Several died when attempts to captivate them
failed. The paving of new roads through the horse’s territories caused
conflicts between horses and men and many horses were killed. And large numbers
of wild feral dog attacked and killed many foals.
Attempts were made to intervene in the Abaco Barb’s extinction and three surviving horses were
brought to a farm near Treasure Cay in 1992. The herd increased to 35 at that
time, however, over half the horses died during their time there. No foals of
the Abaco Barb were born since 1998. Scientists speculate that inbreeding in
captivity may have had a significant impact on the breed’s demise. By early
2010, the herd had diminished to six. By August 2013, only one horse remained:
one mare living inside the preserve. In February 2014, it was announced
that eggs would be harvested from that last mare, but unfortunately the mare
died in a fence accident. It is thought that perhaps a handful of the Abaco
Barbed horses may still exist in the wild, somewhere still on the Island, as
some stallions escaped during the initial attempts to contain and preserve the
herd. Only time will tell if the Abaco remains.