Carolina Marsh Tacky

The Carolina Marsh Tacky or Marsh Tacky is a rare breed of horse, native to South Carolina. Its ancestry can be traced back for over 400 years, but today there are very few representatives left and it is considered an endangered breed.


Carolina Marsh Tacky horses may have any of the common coat colors, and some have primitive dun markings, such as dorsal stripes and zebra leg stripes. Their manes and tails are usually long and full. They have deep and well-muscled but narrow chests. They are known for being easy keepers, and have a reputation of being gentle, good-natured horses.


The Carolina Marsh Tacky's history dates back to the time of the horses brought to the Americas by the Spanish. During colonial times, the Marsh Tacky had developed as a distinct type of horse and was used for cattle drives, transportation, farming, and riding. They were popular among the Native American people, especially the Chickasaw, Cherokee, Seminole, and Choctaw tribes who lived in the region. The breed was known as being able to tolerate the marshy swamps and the biting insects of the low country.

Saving the breed

Today, the Marsh Tacky has largely disappeared, but there are still a few dedicated breeders. There are only 100-150 horses left in the Lowcountry of South Carolina; the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) and the Equus Survival Trust has listed the status of the Carolina Marsh Tacky as "Critical."

In an attempt to save the breed from extinction, in 2006, the ALBC began a two year field investigation to census and document the remaining horses. In 2007, the Equus Survival Trust sent a team to South Carolina to take photos of the largest remaining herd of this breed, a collection of about 60 animals, as well as collect DNA samples in cooperation with ALBC and Texas A&M University. The herd that was studied can trace its heritage all the way back to the time of the Civil War.

To help save the breed from extinction, a bill has been introduced in the South Carolina legislature to designate that this breed be made the official state horse.

ALBC has taken the data for the field investigation and is now working to create a studbook for the Marsh Tacky in order to help remaining owners of this endangered breed to come up with a population management strategy that will maintain genetic diversity within the breed and ensure its future survival.

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