Horse News

Ancient Wild Horses Roam Spain’s Wilderness

AFP By Roland Lloyd Parry as published in Yahoo News

“We are recovering the most primitive breeds to try to help manage an ecosystem which has been abandoned due to the disappearance of humans.”

“It’s ‘Feel Good Sunday’ and what better to share than a story about a country, a people that GET IT when it comes to the importance of wild horses and burros being left free to repair and maintain the natural environment.  (No; welfare cattle and sheep only destroy.)

While our federal government is hell bent on mismanaging our wild horses and burros into extinction, others are attempting to reintroduce wild horses in an effort to save the land…which is what we will be doing once the BLM captures all the wild equines and sends them off to slaughter.

Feel good that someone, somewhere gives a damn and is basing decisions on sound science and verified facts instead of rumor, inuendo, propaganda and money under the table…with that, there is hope.  Keep the faith!” ~ R.T.


Campanarios De Azaba (Spain) (AFP) – In an oak wood spanning the border of Spain and Portugal, an ancient sight unfolds: wild horses, not saddled or shoed, but roaming free as they did centuries ago.

Farming has declined in Spain, leaving the countryside deserted, conservationists say. Now the wild things are coming back: wolves, vultures and rare herbivores.

Dozens of Spanish “Retuerta” horses have been released over the past two years here into the 500-hectare (1,235-acre) Campanarios de Azaba Reserve.

“It’s a wonderful horse that has been around since time immemorial,” despite coming close to extinction, said Carlos Sanchez, director of the conservation group running the site.

“We are recovering the most primitive breeds to try to help manage an ecosystem which has been abandoned due to the disappearance of humans.”

Nuzzling its mother’s velvety brown hide, a foal suckles then disappears among the trees with the grazing herd.

“We released these animals to live by themselves, to take care of themselves in their environment,” said conservationist Diego Benito, 35.

“We don’t feed them. We just watch them and monitor how they are doing in their groups, which are the dominant horses and which of the mares are pregnant.”

Overall in existence there are only about 150 Retuertas — identified by genetic studies as one of the oldest horse breeds in Europe.

They were brought from the Donana National Park in southern Spain — previously the only place where they existed — to create a second breeding site in Campanarios, where they now number about 50.

Sharing the reserve with rare vultures and free-roaming cows, the Retuerta horses are among the animal pioneers of what conservationists call “rewilding”.

The Campanarios reserve is part-funded by Rewilding Europe, an initiative for development through “wild nature” in various countries.

“For the first time in history, Europe is facing a situation where there is no grazing anymore,” said Frans Schepers, managing director of the Netherlands-based organisation.

“There has been a lot of land abandonment in Spain over the past few decades,” he said.

– Wildlife comeback –

Therefore, in recent years “Spain has shown a very interesting wildlife comeback,” with wolves, vultures and even the endangered Iberian lynx recovering in numbers, he added.

Rewilding aims to turn this into an economic opportunity, to draw visitors and revive abandoned rural areas in the long-term.

The Campanarios reserve, currently inhabited just by the animals and a handful of staff, aims to draw groups of wildlife spotters and boost the local economy.

Jon Teixeira, 27, works in the reserve planting trees, releasing rabbits and leaving dead chickens for vultures to feed on.

“I am glad there is a reserve here — that way we’ll have jobs in the area, where there’s a lot of unemployment,” he said.

“And it’s a good job there’s a place where you can’t hunt, otherwise all the animals would be wiped out.”

Elsewhere, conservationists this month released a herd of wild oxen to graze in a reserve near the northern Spanish city of Burgos.

– Stone age safari –

In the coming months they plan to add endangered European bison and other breeds of wild horse to the reserve.

The oxen were set free near the Atapuerca prehistoric site, where archeologists have dug up human remains more than a million years old.

Conservationists want to take people visiting the dig on a stone age safari to see the living descendants of the beasts that roamed the area aeons ago.

“In the archaeological site lie the bones of the ancestors of todays’ species. These are their evolutionary descendants,” said Fernando Moran, a bison specialist at the park.

The Atapuerca site is not part of the Rewilding Europe initiative, but it shares the aim of drawing money and jobs to the abandoned rural areas while also preserving endangered species.

“It is about nature conservation, but also tourism, development and land management,” Moran added.

“Spain is in general a fair bit more wild than the rest of Europe.  Lots of hectares are being left empty, which for wild animals are obviously perfect.”

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10 replies »

  1. One of the best posts ever, Thank You RT , It is refreshing that there are People who give a damn and understand the great importance the HORSES have , Awesome !!! The BLM needs to get a darn Clue !!!!!!! and also an Education !!!Maybe the money that they waste on eradication , could be better spent on learning what we already know HORSES ARE NATURES PERFECT BALANCE !!!!!!!!


  2. Great piece RT. Its very reassuring to know that there is wisdom in the world and that it is actually being applied. Will you and Teri travel to visit this sanctuary ?


  3. This is a great piece – seems there are people out there “in charge” that are attempting to do right by wild animals. Most of the posters on that piece sound like they don’t have a clue! But then that’s as true here as anywhere. I agree with LM it would really be interesting if you & Terri did visit there (would love to hear about it & see pictures!)


  4. While I think of it – found a really interesting website – Mill Swamp Indian Horses. The blog is written by a man in VA – he trains Corolla/Shackleford/BLM Mustangs and also teaches natural horsemanship. Sounds like a great place for kids (and adults) to learn about horses – not an equestrian center – quite unassuming and down to earth. He feels the same way we all do about the position all the wild horses are in. Worth a look.


  5. Europe always seems to be ahead of the game in most aspects. We just bully through everything, taking what we want with no thoughts of future consequences.


  6. “Wild Herbivores help prevent forest fires….”
    Carlos Sanchez Martinez, director of FNYH and President of the Spanish IUCN National Committee
    “Wild herbivores help prevent forest fires and keep landscapes open, which is a key to greater biodiversity. Retuerta horses are invaluable. It is both a privilege and a huge responsibility for FNYH to be custodians of the second population of this breed of horses.”


  7. This is GREAT news, BUT, we can NOT forget that Spain is one of the countries that eats horses. So, I’m hoping and praying that this isn’t a cover-up to something heinous!!!! If they are doing this out of honest concern about the well being of all of the ancient species of horses and animals that are on the verge of extinction, than I totally congratulate them. Now if only the B.L.M.and so many others would take a lesson!


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