Monday, November 10, 2008

Florida Cracker Horses

That little dark speck is a wild horse on Paynes Prairie, between Ocala and Gainesville. He's been hanging out very close to State Rd. 441 for several months. I've spotted him three times. Probably a stallion that's been run off from the main herd by a younger, stronger stallion.

cracker horseI chirped, yelled and waved my arms but I couldn't get his attention. Therefore, Michael thinks he's stuffed.

Paynes Prairie is home to a wild herd of "cracker" horses descended from the Spanish Iberian horses of the sixteenth century. It's believed that Ponce de Leon brought these horses to America on his second trip to Florida. The name "cracker" is derived from the sound of the bullwhips used to round up cattle. Either from escape or release, vast herds of these horses as well as wild cattle roamed Florida from the seventeenth century into the turn of the twentieth century.

The horses were re-introduced into Paynes Prairie State Park along with American bison to restore the park to pre-European conditions. Yes, while hiking through the park, it's possible you'll come face to face with bison (I have, and they are HUGE and overwhelming). Bison were actually indigenous to Florida until the early 1800's. And you thought we were just about alligators...

Here's a great photo I grabbed off Flickr of the Paynes Prairie wild horses...

Paynes Prairie"...through his mane and tail the high wind sings, fanning the hairs, who wave like feather'd wings". - William Shakespeare


Anonymous said...

Sue- loved the equine history of these horses. I never know what I'm going to find when I check your blog.
Wouldn't you have loved it if that solitary horse approached you after your waving at him?

Big sentimental jerk that I am, I'll be wondering about HIM now and hoping he's not too lonely......

After the hurricane here, I wondered what happens with the horses and the guys here tell me they untie them and let them find their own shelter. I shudder. Want to take them all in the house.
Seems they panic if they're tied and can't seek their own cover.

I'm just a sappy sucker for animals.

Sharon Crute said...

Bonnie, animals are better off fending for themselves.They're wise, they know what to do, they put their backs to the wind and weather the storms. They're helpless and vulnerable if a building, such as a barn, is blown down on top of them.

I know what you mean though. I'd have them all in the house as well.

Nancy Moskovitz said...

Sharon, I've seen that horse a couple of times now. Funny how scruffy he looks compared to pro photo of the wild horses you found.

Sharon Crute said...

Nancy, A friend and I were hiking a few years back and we were lucky enough to encounter the herd. We got as close as we dared (the stallion is fiercely protective). Believe me, they're ALL very scruffy.

Aunty Belle said...

Howdy do! Paynes prairie?? OMG, I grew up near thar--I knows G'vlle is really Hog Town Creek.

Must be somethin' in the air this week--I jes' did a post on Florida Cracker's --and a vido on the horses!

Nice to "meet" ya!