Saturday, March 10, 2007

Abaco Barbs


So I made it back on Thursday and actually happy to be home. Sometimes you go on long trips and after awhile you just get tired of spending money. For someone like me who is pretty frugal, spending $40 a cab ride to go 3 miles makes me uncomfortable. I prefer to go to less "touristy" places, off the beaten path. So while the Bahamas were nice and the sun felt great, I would much prefer a simple beach in Mexico. We went because my boyfriend had a business trip there and I just decided to find things for me to enjoy and that is when I stumbled across the Abaco Barbs. There are eight left and they are on the brink of extinction. I wanted to learn more about them, because I don't know what the solutions are. On one hand, it is a very romantic idea to have a wild herd preserved and roaming free in their on their allotted land, left to natural selection with human intervention when needed. On the other hand, I see horses that would be healthier and have a better quality of life with some domestication and care. By care I mean floating teeth, supplementaion, and hoof care. The horses were in excellent condition, there is no doubt. I can't see their teeth and saw little of their feet, but they were healthy, happy horses. I don't know if they will have anymore offspring. Nobody knows. They were exposed to citrus farm chemicals after hurricane Floyd and I don't know if that has had an impact on their reproductive organs. There is no way to know if the stallion, Mimosa will inbreed. It is hard to tell how they are related and I hear differing opinions on wild horses and how they breed. Mimi is optimistic. She has had horse friends visit the island and watch for changes in the mares. There are puckers and belly changes. She has had blips on her sonogram machine...so maybe as I type, there are babies on the way. That would be just wonderful!

They are very beautiful horses and they have such depth in their eyes, almost like they are "old souls." I loved Bellatrix, the little Pinto mare, who couldn't get enough scratches. The banana leaves have rubbed her hair off her pink nose and she has a sunburn on her face. They have overcome so much and they hold an amazing place in history. I don't have the answers, but I have a lot of tapes and a lot of interviews about them and I am hoping to put a film out there that gets people thinking about these eight horses struggling for survival out in the pine forests of Abaco.

5 comments:

Jessica Foster said...

Your images of the Abaco Barbs and the research you've done surely will make a positive difference. I look forward to seeing what you create from this!

Milanne (Mimi) Rehor said...

Hello Juli,

I'd like to make some comments about your blog about the Abaco Horses:

"On one hand, it is a very romantic idea to have a wild herd preserved and running free on the island, left to natural selection with human intervention when needed."

Is there something wrong with this concept? It's not merely romantic, it's proving effective and is providing a rich area for study of horses leading natural lives. They are not running free on the island. They are on a Preserve under close observation and as much protection as possible without interferring in their normal lives.

"On the other hand, I see horses that would be healthier and have a better quality of life with some domestication and care."

Do they appear to you to be unhealthy? Domestication, roping, handling, etc. etc. would not help them. They are getting the care they need under the advisement of a large number of people, including geneticists and DVMS who are well aware of our goals. They are not unhealthy, in fact they are parasite free and have no diseases, have shining coats, clean, unscarred legs. They are pristine. They are in good recovery from the traumas that humans have visited on them. What is wrong with their quality of life? They forage, they roam, they drink, snooze and mate. No human demands are put on them, there are no dominance issues here. They survived for 500 years without human intervention, it's humans who messed them up in the first place and since we have returned them to their natural habitat there has been nothing but improvement. Repeat visitors who have watched them over the years can attest to this.

"I don't know if they will have anymore offspring."

We get closer each day to being able to say that three are pregnant. One mare I pointed out to you specifically shows increasing changes in her rump area that occur in the later stages of pregnancy.I went into some detail about the sonogram unit we are using and the results we got.

"They were exposed to citrus farm chemicals after hurricane Floyd"

They were exposed to chemicals ever since the last three that survived the slaughter were put on the farm. Floyd's aftermath only increased the exposure and they have been removed from that environment. There are no apparent chemicals remaining in their systems, and successful pregnancies will indicate that they have overcome whatever damage occurred.

"and there is no way to know if Mimosa, the stallion will breed his own daughters. I hear differing opinions on that. "

We have no proof that the mares are his daughters, certainly not Acamar and Nunki who were both born the same year that he was. He most certainly is breeding them and all indications so far are there there could be three foals coming. We will be doing more sonogram work within a few weeks. If we dont' get foals we will find out why we are not getting foals and will take appropriate steps.

After 15 years of extremely hard work, and the support of hundreds of people, I am rather disappointed that you would so readily dismiss what has been accomplished so far, and that you would recommend 'domestication,' whatever that would entail, as a solution to their 'problems.' And indeed, when foals arrive, there will be no problems as the horses will prove that they have been returned to breeding health simply by being allowed to be normal.

Milanne (Mimi) Rehor

Rising Rainbow said...

I look forward to what you create from this as well.

Sounds to me like the second commentor read some answers into your questions that I don't know were there.

I heard questions that you weren't sure of the answers.

photogchic said...

I have edited myself. I have upset Mimi with my original post and I have tried to make it a little clearer. I repeat, I do not have the answers. I just want people to know about these horses and care about them as much as Mimi does.

Lori Schmidt (LoriProPhoto) said...

This is an amazing story, good luck with your project on these horses. There are a lot of people out there who will dip into their pockets to help out if you find the right ones. I really hope that there are babies on the way. It is a bit worrisome about the inbreeding thing though.

I have to agree that I hate crowded places, much prefer the more thinly populated places LOL.

Goodluck and keep us posted on the developments.

Lori