By Patty Wilber
I bet the title was a clue to the fact that Sunny is a Choctaw Pony. Choctaw Ponies are Spanish Colonial Horses and are descended from animals brought to the America’s by Spanish explorers.
Some horses escaped, and some were stolen. Over time, ranchers and Indians, including the Choctaws, began to use and breed the horses. Others went feral. Each developed into slightly different types, well suited to their environment (many in the arid west) and jobs.
As a general rule, Spanish Colonial Horses are small (13.2-14.2), metabolically thrifty (air fern–surviving on little and poor forage), have excellent teeth (to effectively eat that forage,) are lean muscled (endurance), and have great feet (the bad footed didn’t survive).
The Spanish Horses bred and used by Native Americans were very nearly wiped out by Federal extermination programs designed to hobble the warriors, disease control, and lack of appreciation of their tough yet tractable nature.
Cometa is also Spanish, from the Wilbur-Cruce herd. While Sunny is registered with the Horse of the Americas as 68.75% Choctaw Spanish Mustang, Cometa is registered with the Spanish Barb and Spanish Mustang organizations, but not with the Horse of the Americas. Considering there are not many Spanish Horses left in the country, (maybe fewer than 3000?) it is somewhat surprising to have so many different registries.
“The Wilbur-Cruce herd was brought to the attention of breeders of Colonial Spanish horses in 1989, and illustrates an important point when dealing with landraces such as the Colonial Spanish Horse. It is critical to the conservation of the genetic resource of these populations for the organized studbooks to remain open and receptive to inclusion of new pure herds as they are recognized and documented. As time goes on such new herds will be recognized only rarely. They will always contain valuable genetic material for conservation. The Wilbur-Cruce horses are more variable in type than the horses in the registries, even though they do have a Spanish origin. This is interesting in that they are an example of a closed herd that includes some outlier Spanish types that are taller and heavier than the usual Colonial Spanish Horse type.”
A couple of years ago, the Wilbur-Cruce animals were given full status in the Spanish Barb Registry.
Sunny and Cometa are similar in many ways (good feet, teeth, small size, lean muscle, very thrifty), but have rather different heads (Cometa has the Regal Roman Nose).
Both are intelligent and personable!