A New Clue to Origins?

Could the Wild Horses of Abaco carry the genes of an extinct breed known as the Narragansett pacer?

In late May the AWHF received a phone call from Barry Drexel, Director of the National Museum of the Turks and Caicos Islands which like just south and east of the Bahamas. He had seen an article about the Abaco Wild Horses which appeared in the "Bahamas Journal of Science." He said that a once famous breed of horse, the Narragansett Pacer, was bred in the State of Rhode Island in the US during the 18th century. These horse were exported all over the Caribbean. After the Revolutionary war the horses became extinct. It would make sense that some of their genes still survive in the herds of horses still scattered through out the Caribbean..

The AWHF called the Rhode Island Historical Society library, and some fascinating clues may have been uncovered.

(The following information is from an article in "The Westerly Sun" newspaper of Rhode Island The original article was written by Nancy Martin of Quebec, Canada):
In 1979 a standarbred mare owned by Mary McCarthy and her husband Joseph of West Springfield, Massachusetts gave birth to a chestnut filly. Her name was "Tom's Sister" and she carried unusual markings, a white blaze on her face, boots on her forefeet, stockings on her hind feet and patches on her side.

Steve Harvey, an expert on the standardbred and its heritage, suggested that "Tom's Sister"might be a throwback to the Narragansett pacer.

"One of the founding breeds of the standardbred, the Narragansett pacer has been extinct since the first quarter of the 19th century. In color they were usually sorrel or light chestnut, liberally splashed with white markings. . ." (Ed. Note: The photo of Mimosa, below, is by Wendi Rittenhouse of Boca Raton, FL).

Photo of horse

picture of horse

Could the two bay mares that survived the 60's slaughter be descendants of pacers brought by pre and post revolutionary colonists? Could some pacer blood have been in the logging horses imported from Cuba?

If anyone has any information about or interest in Narragansett Pacers, please send EMail. Does anyone know if it would be posible to 'recreate' this breed if the right horses can be found?

The story continues: "Unfortunately, the origins of the once popoular Narrangansett pacer are completely obscured. Whatever the origins, the breed had developed and was recongnized by 1700. And by that time, the Narragansett planters, who developed the breed, had already established breeding farms and trading ties with the ready markets in the South and the Caribbean.

"During the colonial period, the Narragansett pacer attracted the interest of many famous horse fanciers, including George Washington, who owned two. Despite the fact that it was probably a Narragansett pacer that Paul Revere rode on his famous ride, the Revolutionary War signaled the demise of the breed. By 1800 there was only one Narragansett pacer surviving in Rhode Island."

The March, 1972 issue of "The Chronicle of the Horse" carried a long article, from which the following excerpts are taken:

"Every breed has its foundation sire - Justin Morgan, Rysdyk's Hambletonian, Sir Archy and so forth. For the Narragansett pacer it was a stallion called Snip. Not long after his father's death in 1716 the future royal goivernor of Rhode Island, William Robinson (1693-1751) acquired (land on Point Judith, Rhode Island). Daniel Updike (born 1761), wrote 'Old Snip was found on old Gov. Robinson's farm in Point Judith. Horses were then running wild in Point Judith (ie. on free range) and he was found among them. Where he came from no one knew. He was the sire of the Narragansett'.

"Narragansetts were mostly light chestnut (sorrel) in color, about fifteen hands, very smooth gaited, fast and with great endurance, carrying their riders comfortably for forty, fifty, or even sixty miles a day. Their excellence was much improved by race track selections.' "


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