Johnson Center Rescues Rare Historic Horse Breed
A horse is a horse, of course, of course — unless that horse happens to be a rare breed called the Colonial Spanish. In that case, says horse enthusiast Stephanie Lockhart, don’t mistake the hardy little steed for just any old pony.
These were the mounts first introduced to the then-New World by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century. The horses were later adopted by some American Indian tribes, and raced across the West carrying Pony Express mail carriers.
“These were the first horses in America,” says Lockhart of the horses, also called Spanish mustangs. “They’re like old souls. You look into their eyes, and you can just see the history involved.”
For the five newest horses at Lockhart’s nonprofit Center for America’s First Horse in Johnson, more recent history was a hard-knocks affair: Until earlier this month, the horses were living in New Mexico, where record-breaking drought conditions meant hay, grazing and water were expensive and hard to come by. The horses were thin, and their aging owners — who had been raising the Colonial Spanish for 60 years to keep the historic breed alive — knew they couldn’t keep them any longer.