When I arrived in Abaco last February, 1998, I counted 17 horses.
After losing SHAULA and POLARIS the prior spring, three more horses died over the summer of 97: KOCHAB, a big lead stallion who had his own herd, was only about four years old, and was seen to be pacing in a blurry photo of him as a foal. The Mare SUHAIL was gone, some remains of what appeared to be a pinto were found in a field and they might have been from her. AVIOR, another stallion was also gone. One set of large bones was found over a piece of polypropylene rope that had been fashioned into a noose. It was identified as a pig trap. Illegal, but obviously still very much in use and capable of killing a horse. Another relatively fresh set of bones was found in the forest.
ATRIA was very pregnant, reports came in of a small brown foal seen in a far field, but it never turned up. ATRIA was no longer pregnant, we can only assume that the foal succumbed to dogs. The same thing happened to HAMAL. We thought shed never foal, her pregnancy seemd to go on forever, we had two vets look at her but they could see no problems. Again, a report came in of a foal spotted, this time in a more specific location. But the baby was never found and HAMAL, looking hagard and thin, was no longer pregnant.
With that inauspicious start to the trip the arrival of BELLATRIX II, a pinto filly born to ADHARA on March 6, 1998, was a cause for much joy. During my entire stay, during all my days of watching the horses, not much else happened.
Toward the end of July, bachelor stallion aggression was on the increase. There were a lot of attempted kidnappings and sparring. No sooner did I leave Abaco than REGULUS, who had his one mare DENEB, (and had her for the entire time I was observing them), was driven off by the combined efforts of CAPELLA, VEGA and ACHERNAR. Mrs. Andrea Mills, who took over the weekly bed check and general observations for me, announced that soon after the mix up DENEB produced a filly ENIF, and poor ENIF was so confused by the constantly changing lead stallions that for a while she ended up with MIMOSAs group. In fact, we at first thought she belonged to NUNKI.
But then in September NUNKI produced her own filly, SPICA, and in October ACAMAR produced a fourth filly, ALNITAK.
So what started out as a very sad year has, went well with the birth of four desperately needed fillies. Unfortunately, the death of Acrux, see article, on March 5, 1999, has brought the herd number back down to 20.