Items

Forums
 
Wild and Free Sable Island Ponies
 By Winniefield Park   •   5th Sep 2019   •   447 views   •   0 comments


There’s a scientist out there that is delighted to find a dead horse. Not that she’s excited that the horse is dead. That is probably as emotionally difficult for her as any of us. But, this scientist, as part of a research team, is happy to find the remains of dead Sable Island ponies to analyze and explore how these animal lived and died. Sable Island, as you might recall is a small, remote island, not much more than a sandbar where birds nest and seals nap, off the southeast coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. On the island, now long abandoned by any human inhabitants, are the feral remnants of horses brought by European immigrants in the mid 1700s. With almost no vegetation and an incredibly harsh marine environment, it’s surprising the ponies have survived.

Sable Island ponies are now protected by the Canadian Government and Sable Island was made a National Park in 2003.

Researchers are doing necropsies on the bodies of horses they find. What they discover can help manage and protect the herd. It also opens a window on how the lives of wild horses differ from domestic. We may imagine the life of a wild horses somehow better, or freer than a domestic horse. But this may not be true. The necropsies reveal how hard the lives of these horses, really are. Domestic horses don’t (or shouldn’t) face many of the hardships wild (feral) horses do.

Parasites
In the Sable Island ponies, parasite load was “three times higher than what would be considered high for a domestic horse.” High parasite loads are associated with poor body conditions scores and this can make horses even more susceptible to death from starvation if food sources become scarce.

Predation
Some herds are threatened by predation. Cougars, wolves, coyotes, bears and humans can prey on wild horse herds. Most at risk are foals, old and injured horses and horses affected by starvation and dehydration. Strong healthy horses are less likely to be the victims of predation - unless humans are the predators. A 2011 study suggests that most of the foal deaths within wild horses herds on the central California — Nevada border were caused by predation from mountain lions (cougar).

Injury
A wild horse will die of infection, starvation or predation if it is badly injured. A broken bone may well spell the end of a life, or a career for a domestic horse but we look after most injuries successfully. There is no help for a wild horse if nature can’t heal it on its own.

Illness
Leptospirosis can cause foals to abort. Chincoteague ponies have been affected by “swamp cancer”, an infection caused when a horse goes in water carrying a fungus-like organism known as Pythium insidiosum. In the Sable island herd, sand colic isn’t unheard of. Many of the diseases that affect our horses also affect wild horses. And, they don’t benefit from vaccines and other drugs the way our horses do.

Dentition
It’s well-known that in a horse’s older years their teeth wear down and fall out, requiring more consideration about what they eat. Wild horses that live in sandy areas are especially affected by this, as the sand that they pick up while grazing grinds their teeth down. This can lead to poor nutrition and ultimately, starvation.

Foal Deaths
There is no doubt that the number of wild foals that die due to predation, starvation, illness or injury far exceeds the deaths of domestic foals. Although wild horses can live as long as domestic horses, the average length of life would be much lower if the high death rate of foals were taken into account.

Starvation
Wild horses work hard for their food. They sometimes travel over 20 miles (32.19 km) per day in search of food, and often find only rough grazing our domestic horses would refuse. While obesity might be a problem for our domestic horses, that problem is rarely seen in wild populations. Seasonal weather changes, extreme weather and competition with other grazers means horses are often at risk of becoming malnutritioned.

Dehydration
Drought is a serious problem. Last year Brumbies in Australia were dying of dehydration and starvation due to extreme weather. News stories last spring and summer out of Nevada and Arizona reported that herds were dying of lack of water. In Nevada, about 200 horses were found in a dried up stock pond. The horses walked into the muddy remains of the pond in search of water, and were too weak to get out. Even winter conditions can lead to starvation and dehydration. This spring, a herd of horses in Oregon was stranded due to high snow drifts and fallen trees.

1 https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/sable-island-horses-necropsies-1.5054854

Horse News More PB Articles About:  Wild Horses,
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  Winniefield Park
 Related Horse News
Three Places to Adopt Wild Horses
9th Aug 2014   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
The last Wednesday of July marked the 89th Chincoteague Pony Swim. This event was made famous by Marguerite Henry’s book “Misty of Chincoteague Island." A few days before the swim, the ponies of Assateague Island were rounded up a ...
The Last of the Horse Roundups
29th Aug 2017   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
Wild horse roundups may be reminiscent of the old west but they still take place today although they may not happen for the same reason as they did back before the turn of the 20th century. Today, roundups may have more to do with ...
No Wild Horses Left
4th Mar 2018   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
Pretty much everything written about Przewalski's horses in the last few decades has claimed that they were the last true wild horses on the planet. We call many horse populations wild such as Mustangs, but they are feral, descend ...
The White Sands Horse Rescue Operation
19th Aug 2019   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
25 years ago, Dr. Don Hoglund led a roundup that saved the lives of about 1800 wild horses. Hoglund is best known for his wild horse training methods and prison inmate programs. But, he claims, the highlight of his career is the r ...
Wild and Free Sable Island Ponies
5th Sep 2019   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
There’s a scientist out there that is delighted to find a dead horse. Not that she’s excited that the horse is dead. That is probably as emotionally difficult for her as any of us. But, this scientist, as part of a research team, ...
The Icelandic Laufskalaret Wild Horse Roundup
19th Jul 2020   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
Summer has begun in the northern hemisphere and in Iceland, horses have been released to their summer pastures. In the autumn, before the hard Icelandic winter sets in, they will be herded up during an event known as Laufskálarét. ...
Love For Wild Horses Org Responsible for California Relocation
1st Aug 2020   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
A herd of wild horses from California has found a new home in the Red Feather Lakes of Colorado. Advocates say the horses are useful because they clear the ground cover that feeds wildfires, and they plan to move more horses there ...
  View More PonyBox Related Horse Articles
 More News by Winniefield Park
25 Year Old Equestrian Karen Polle is One to Watch
20th Sep 2020   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
Karen Polle was born in Japan, but moved to the United States when she was very young. She rode for the U.S. competing successfully in North American Young Rider Championships. In 2014, she started riding for Japan with a goal of ...
U.S. Space Force Inducts First Horse
18th Sep 2020   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
The Space Force has a new recruit. Currently The United States Space Force has a personnel of about 16,000, but it’s membership has just increased by one. Ghost, a five-year-old grey Mustang is its newest recruit. Unlike his fello ...
Horse Antibodies Treating COVID in People
14th Sep 2020   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
Could horses help treat Covid-19? Immune therapy research being done in South America suggests that antibodies produced by horses when injected with part of the coronavirus might help fight the virus in people. Horse blood contain ...
Record Breaking Friesian Earnings
13th Sep 2020   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
A new PonyBox record has fallen with an offspring out-earning their sire. And a new horse sits in the top PonyBox spot. ...
Virtual Mustang Makeover
12th Sep 2020   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
Many equestrian events have been cancelled, but with some ingenuity, others have made an attempt to carry on safely despite COVID-19. Each year, the Extreme Mustang Makeover offers a chance for young trainers to prove their horse ...
Meet Freckle Butt The House Trained Horse
7th Sep 2020   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
Freckle Butt the pony clearly believes he’s entitled to all of the comforts of home. That includes access to soft rugs, snacks and back rubs. This house horse lives in Michigan and has only one regret - no fingers or thumbs to use ...
PonyBox Top Rankings and Win Streaks
6th Sep 2020   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
Top Ranking horse for the end of the first week of August is 3P *Overjoyed*. This 12 year old Standardbred mare is a diminutive 12.2 hands, but has a best jump of 91” and earnings of 509,800 PB. She has a performance score of 443 ...
Worsely Dressage Documentary
5th Sep 2020   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
Lucy Worsely’s 2015 “Reins of Power” documentary, available on YouTube, is the perfect addition to your rainy day or quarantine binge watching playlist. The doc peeks at the royal family’s horse obsession, and explores the roots o ...
  View All News by Winniefield Park
 
©2002 - 2020   PonyBox LLC Create Account Advertise Terms Privacy Contact Us
157 Members Online 269,047 Registered Members 2,772 News Articles 11,779,953 Unique News Article Views 280,713,463 Website Views