Items

Forums
 
Wild and Free Sable Island Ponies
 By Winniefield Park   •   5th Sep 2019   •   1,043 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 ...
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 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 ...
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 ...
Woman Learns Life Lessons Training Wild Mustangs
21st Sep 2021   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
Horse training is not an easy task nor one that can be rushed or forced. And when the horse has never met a human before, the challenge is much greater. Meet Annie and her two formerly wild Mustangs Freya and Chira and learn how s ...
🐎 Corolla Wild Horses Off To Rough Start in 2022
17th May 2022   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
The foals being monitored by the Corolla Wild Horse Fund have had a rough start this spring. The first foal, a colt named Charlie unexpectedly died before he was a month old. He had appeared perfectly healthy. But the group had a ...
  View More PonyBox Related Horse Articles
 More News by Winniefield Park
💉 Wild Horses Dying at High Rate from Unknown Disease
27th May 2022   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
Wild horses at the Cañon City Wild Horse and Burro Facility are dying at a worrisome rate. Two herds were captured in Northern Colorado last fall and in recent weeks dozens of horses have died after an outbreak of an unknown disea ...
🐎 Aggressive Horse Fine Under Saddle but Miserable on Ground Work
24th May 2022   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
It’s not unusual for a horse to be a joy under saddle but miserable to work with on the ground. This pony is 21 years old, and while he’s a perfect child’s pony while ridden, he’s a menace to adults and children when handling him ...
👹 CreatureComforts Pushes Rare Breeds to Top of PonyBox
22nd May 2022   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
An effort by one breeder has highlighted the talents of a rare breed, placing several within the top 100 rankings. Leading the pack was 16-year-old Hungarian Warmblood mare CC Charlies Scam as she sat at the #1 ranked spot. With h ...
🔖 Equestrian 101 - Learning to Ride
19th May 2022   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
If you think you’d like to learn to horseback ride, or are just getting started here are some great tips from a reporter whose family members are horse enthusiasts. Whether coach or rider, the agreement seems to be, the lessons l ...
🐎 Corolla Wild Horses Off To Rough Start in 2022
17th May 2022   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
The foals being monitored by the Corolla Wild Horse Fund have had a rough start this spring. The first foal, a colt named Charlie unexpectedly died before he was a month old. He had appeared perfectly healthy. But the group had a ...
🌹 Rose To Prominence falls to Jack Flash in Fight for PonyBox Elite
15th May 2022   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
PonyBox leader *Rose To Prominence was both #1 ranked horse and held the record for the highest jump until being usurped by 3Pxy *Jack Flash* who also held the top win streak with 2,078. ...
🏇🏼 Rich Strike Against All Odds Win of Kentucky Derby
14th May 2022   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
ICYMI, the Kentucky Derby was held May 7th and the winner was a horse that ran because another horse was scratched and then started the race with 1-80 odds. Drone video shows how Rich Strike ran an impossible race to steal a win f ...
☁️ Dream Alliance by Ebony Friesians Record Jump at 105
8th May 2022   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
* Dream Alliance * may have slipped from the top spot, usurped by challenger ?YouAreMySunshine but she still holds the record for the highest jump at 105 inches. The 15.3 hand Friesian mare foaled on March 6, 2022, and is bred and ...
  View All News by Winniefield Park
 
©2002 - 2022   PonyBox LLC Create Account Advertise Terms Privacy Contact Us
126 Members Online 271,298 Registered Members 3,053 News Articles 13,457,801 Unique News Article Views 323,767,790 Website Views