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Make the California Vaquero Horse the state horse of CA and segregate their wild family!

This petition had 414 supporters

The California Vaquero Horse. This gorgeous breed is critically endangered with less than 100 known individuals in the world. They descend from the Spanish horses that were stolen during Indian raids on the vast Spanish missions and ranches during the middle of the 19th century. The most famous of these raids was conducted by Ute Indian Chief Wakara and Thomas “Peg Leg” Smith in which they reportedly stole 3,000 Spanish horses and drove them down the Old Spanish Trail. What is presumed is that there were escapees from these raids as a herd of old Spanish horses were found on the Mountain Home Range in Southwest Utah. Ranchers nearby knew of these old Spanish horses and at one point during the 1950’s some draft stock was turned loose to breed the smaller Spanish horses up in size. It didn’t work. Locals in the area reported that the Spanish horses segregated themselves and moved further up the mountain away from these new horses that were put on the range. When the BLM was charged with the management of wild horses they soon discovered that there was something very different about the horses on the Mountain Home Range and blood was drawn and sent to Dr. Gus Cothran who is a geneticist at the University of Kentucky (now at Texas A&M). In his report in 1997 he confirmed what everyone was thinking of these horses and that they were indeed old Spanish horses whom genetically were similar to the Puerto Rican Paso Fino (noted for its purity), Chilean Criollo, and American Paso Fino. While relating to breeds that gait, this breed only has 3 clean gaits of walk, trot, and canter. Their coloring was from a time and age where it was believed that the buckskin or tan colored horse was the best mount money could buy. Subsequently, this breed comes mostly in dun and grulla coloration and also comes more uncommonly in red dun, black, bay, and chestnut. Other color patterns are absent. It is by a miracle that these horses even exist today. During the later part of the 19th century, a new way of ranching cattle required a heavier horse than these smaller Spanish steeds and the recent introduction of the Thoroughbred in horse racing in California also made the more agile, but not as quick Spanish horses obsolete. So to have found a remnant of these Spanish horses up in an isolated and remote area in the mountains of South West Utah is a miracle. This herd managed to survive in the wild due to the way that their ancestors were kept on the great missions and ranches of Southern California. The vaquero would keep a string of 20 horses and would ride his horses very hard over a 2-3 day period. The horses lived semi-feral lives and no extra grain was given to these hard worked horses. Thus, they were already very sturdy and tough horses when they were stolen during horse raids by Chief Wakara and “Peg Leg” Smith. These horses were found 40 miles from the Old Spanish Trail and there isn’t any documentation suggesting that there could be any other explanation for why they are there. Thus, with their history pointing to California, their genetics revealing them to be old Spanish horses, and their conformation being that of a Spanish horse has lead those to understand that these are the last of the Spanish California horses and was subsequently named the California Vaquero Horse to honor their heritage. With more and more mix breeding being noted on the HMA, it is imperative that these horses are preserved. The best way to do this, is to bring awareness about their plight for survival is to get the BLM to gather the few remaining Spanish horses and segregate them on their own land. The second thing we need to do is get the government in California to help draft a bill to recognize these old Spanish horses as our state horse. In doing so, the state will be recognizing a living treasure from the time when California was owned by Spain and then Mexico and celebrating her heritage and history and the BLM will be preserving and ensuring the survival of our old Iberian wild horses. 

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