The Carolina Marsh Tacky is a horse breed that is developed in South Carolina by Colonial Spanish group of horse breeds that were descended from the original Iberian horse stock. They were brought from Spain by the Spanish explorers and colonists to the United States during the 16th century. This group also includes the Florida Cracker Horse and the Banker horse of North Carolina.
Although they have same ancestry as the aforementioned breed the DNA testing has proved that this is a separate breed with unique features. The name of the breed contains three parts: Carolina refers to its country of origin; Marsh because they can maneuver in the dense marshes; and the Tacky part derives from the English word common or cheap, because they were the most common breed in the area of the country. Today they are very rare and considered to be critically endangered. Their number of population is in decline counting only 276 alive and 22 newborn foals in 2010. The Carolina Marsh Tacky Association was established in 2007, thanks to the efforts of the breed enthusiasts of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. The main goal was to preserve and promote the Carolina Marsh Tacky breed. The organization is working on DNA testing and is trying to open a stud book and a breed registry.
At the beginning they were roaming free as feral horses and later were rounded up by local people for their and used as pack horses. They would carry goods from one place to other through dense lowland swamps, used for herd cattle and hunting. As the American Revolution began in the 18th century the Marsh Tacky horse was used by the irregular military and brought them a great advance over the enemies. The reason was their size and capability to move through the swamps with little effort, unlike the larger European breeds. They were also used by the Gullahs to work in fields and gardens; in World War II by the beach patrol; and during the 1960sí they were used in races on Hilton Head beaches. Later in 2009 this race revived during the Gullah Cultural Festival.
The head of the Marsh Tacky is flat or concave with a wide forehead; eyes are large, bold and set well apart; nostrils are crescent shaped when rest, large and open when excited; muzzle is refined; and ears are short to medium length. The neck is slightly upside-down (ewe neck); the withers are pronounced; the back is short and strong; and the croup is steeply angled. The tail is low set, legs are long with no feathers on the lower legs, feet are well balanced and hooves are strong and powerful. They can display an ambling gait that is similar to the Brazilian Mangalarga Marchador, but most of them have a smooth trot.
The Carolina Marsh Tacky is a small horse that stands between 13 and 15 hands high, most of them standing 14-14.2 hands. Their coat colors are reliable to those of the Colonial Spanish horse and they come in wide variety, which includes dun, bay, roan, chestnut, black and grullo.
These horses are mostly used as agriculture horses for work in fields, in water and swamps without panicking. They are also used for endurance riding, herding cattle, hunting and festival races. Their calm nature and small size makes them to be preferred from children and women.
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