I have always loved to write and to research, and from an early age, captivate an audience (or at least imagine I was). Story-telling has been a source of enjoyment whether the story is one re-told for generations or plucked from reality like the collection of Marsh Tacky Horse stories from interviews. My experience with stories tells me that all of them, fiction or non-fiction, are based at least on a tiny seed of truth and diligent research can unveil those truths. These are the skills I bring to my keyboard and to interviews. I am currently under contract with History Press for the manuscript, "The Natural History of the Marsh Tacky Horse".
I have a confession. I stopped blogging thinking maybe someone had taken the blog information and stolen Yago and River. I have been struggling with whether or not to continue to blog about Marsh Tacky Horses. Yesterday I was alerted to a horse that was claimed to be a Marsh Tacky per coggins and is headed to the New Holland sale on Monday July 3, 2017. Some of you will read this blog after everything is all over and I apologize for that. I had hoped this horse was Yago or River. It is not. I’ve learned something though, I learned that everyone of you have been looking for Yago & River. And I want you to keep looking. And I also need help for this horse:
This horse is going to the NEW HOLLAND PA sale on Monday July 3, 2017
“…he’s really afraid. He doesn’t know what’s happening, it’s obviously his first time experiencing something like this. At the first sale, he pulled back and broke 2 halters. They put him in a pen with a mare about his size. She was meant and kicked him. He wants to shut down, I can tell, but he still responds to a kind, gentle touch and soft voice. Obviously was a woman’s horse. He’s going to need QT and tlc if he gets out of there!”
“Rare opportunity to own and endangered breed. Very few of these horses remain. MARSH TACKY (per coggins, has the breed characteristics) Official horse for the state of SC. Purchased 1-2 years ago at the annual sale.
Gelding. 3 yrs old. 14hh. Halter broke only. This is not Yago, one of the two Marsh Tacky horses stolen a few months ago.
Selling tomorrow morning at 9am auction in New Holland, Pa. Mel’s Sales Stable. Attend in person if possible. Phone bidding is available. Video available via PM or see main page.”
This year I couldn’t watch the Kentucky Derby. Its the first time in over a decade that I have not watched it. I couldn’t. I couldn’t watch it knowing somewhere out there River & Yago were wondering where they were and why they weren’t at home. Instead I watched Netposse’s video about River & Yago.
How can you help bring them home?
Watch the video, hand out flyers, share on social media. Keep your eyes open for any horses that match their description on trails, new in pastures, at sales barns and auctions. Do not hesitate to call Netposse if you think you have a lead. The safe return of these horses is all that matters. There is a new Facebook page filled with links to on-line auctions or sales if you would like to click through there to look for River & Yago. We hope they are not at a sale, but if they are – we hope that someone sees them and helps bring them home.
This is the new Flyer with the Reward $ for their safe return, no questions asked!
Please everyone, keep looking to bring them home!
Oh – and Always Dreaming & Todd Pletcher, congratulations on the 143 run of the Kentucky Derby! I am hoping that River & Yago will be found safe and returned before the Triple Crown is over.
Someone stole two Rare Breed Marsh Tacky Horses from Rembert, SC late Sunday night or very early Monday morning. Please be on the lookout for these horses.The horses are friendly and someone cut the power to the fence and took the horses out of their pasture.The owner of the horses is Jackie Hood McFadden.
“My Marsh Tackies were stolen last night from Rembert, SC near Camden, SC. They are endangered Marsh Tacky horses. A bay mare, River, and a dark bay gelding, Yago, both with stars. River has a left hind pastern and her mane falls to the left. Yago has a double mane and has some roaning on his flanks. The photos are posted here: http://www.jackiemcfadden.com/STOLEN. Please get the word out. We have talked to police and I’m filling out the forms for NetPosse. They are microchipped. They are very friendly horses. The power was cut and they were taken out the back gate.”
PLEASE PLEASE help us find them!!
Please message me via my blog if you have any information.
Last month in March, Kiawah Cares hosted their first Kiawah Cup with the SC State Heritage Horse, the Marsh Tacky. True to their promise, they brought attention to this unique, critically endangered domestic equine. The Marsh Tacky is a versatile horse known for its wood-sense as well as its fame of historically racing on the South Carolina Sea Island beaches. Tammy Mac, organizer of the Kiawah Cup, enthusiastically said that the race was everything she had hoped that it would be. True to their word as promised, Kiawah Cares delivered yet another new audience to the tough little Marsh Tacky. Mac’s favorite part of the races? “Seeing the Tacky enthusiasts so happy and helping to promote awareness of this magnificent breed. We can’t wait to do it again!” Kiawah Cares is anticipating that next years Kiawah Cup is going to be even bigger.
So what will you do about seeing one until then? Caroline Knight created the “Meet a Marsh Tacky Day” event list for April 22,2017 on Facebook. There are at least four events that day members of the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association are planning on attending or hosting. This little horse can do more than race on the beach – trail riding, Calvary mounts, and hunting are just a few of the disciplines these horses excel in. Did you know some Marsh Tacky Horses are seasoned foxhunters? Look for the next post in Marsh Tacky Tales to see other disciplines they are used in. April 22, 2017 is loaded with places to see our South Carolina State Heritage Horse. Please scroll down to Links, Show Bills and Flyers listed below so you can pick out the event best suited for you!
All Breeds Fun Show
Pelzer, SC – 9530 Augusta Road, Pelzer, SC 29669 Registration starts at 8:30, classes start at 10:00 Show Bill Below
Ward, SC – Wonderful Weekend in Ward Are you looking to go on a trail ride and get a chance to check out some Marsh Tacky Horses under saddle? On April 22 there will be a gathering of Marsh Tacky Horses with their riders taking on the trails. Look for the group of riders wearing Carolina Marsh Tacky Association T-shirts!
PeeDee Horse Festival – Bring your horse or bring just yourself
Sweet Home Alabama, gelding, owned by Leighton Bell and ridden by Wylie Cox Bell took home the Grand Championship Win at the Kiawah Cup, Saturday March 25, 2017. Sweet Home Alabama won the Gelding Heat and Lilly of Blackberry Ridge Farms, owned by MJ Goodwin and ridden by Jennifer Malone won the Mare Heat. According to traditional rules, the final race is between the Heat Winners of each division; Stallion, Gelding and Mares. (No Stallions were raced at the Kiawah Cup, mares and geldings only). This years final race set up like a match race due to having only two divisions.
I took the opportunity to interview Wylie Cox Bell on her win, her racing, and the horses she rode in the both the Mare and Gelding Heats. Bell has ridden in many of the Marsh Tacky Beach Races since they were re-introduced in 2009 by the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association. She loves the racing and the thrill of the speed. Bell rode Sweet Home Alabama in the Gelding Heat and Southern Breeze in the Mare Heat. Southern Breeze was beaten in the Mare Heat by horses Lilly and Cowgirl.
Bell knew that Sweet Home Alabama would be a good contender for the race as he has been to the Beach Races four times already, once winning the Gelding Heat in 2013. Asked if she was confident that he would take home the Beach Race Championship, “NO! Absolutely not.” Bell said. “I’m proud of Bama’s spirit and competitiveness, and it gave me the big win that I’ve wanted for a long time.”
“NOW, I’ll be spending the next months reining in that race mentality so that I have a safe riding horse.” Bell has been through the changing of a steady mount to a flashy racer and back a few times. She lets the horse be a horse and let the racing memory fade before asking for anything. Bell mentioned that some horses do not seem to recover quickly from the changeover. However,”As for those who have Marsh Tackies who can race and go back to being just a pleasurable riding horse, hug and kiss that horse and never let him or her go.”
I asked her about the preparation it takes for the Beach Race,”Preparing for the race, I put about two weeks of good conditioning on them. I also had April Brigman help me breeze them out a couple times. But otherwise, it was a lot of working trots and lengthy canters.” She has had experience with Sweet Home Alabama, Southern Breeze and Sage to name a few of the horses she has ridden on the sand.
Southern Breeze is Wylies personal horse and is often ridden by her 73 year old mother at home; to put her in the beach race was certainly a change of pace for her. “Every horse is different and racing will affect each one of them differently.” Bell described Breeze as being totally out of character, “Breeze is a very fast mare, but she can’t handle the racing mentally. I hate the impression that many got of her at the races, where she was a frazzled mess.” Bell said, “when it comes to the racing, she just gets too anxious about it. But I’m proud of the two races she gave me Saturday, but she is now officially retired from racing. I owe it to her. She’s done it for me 4 times.”
I asked Bell what information new Marsh Tacky horse owners that might like to take a turn at the Beach Races would need to know. “The bigger thing is just knowing, can your horse run straight and with confidence? Will it spook at a jump start or can it jump off that line with confidence? Even if you don’t know the answers to these questions, you can at least give it a shot (if you are a confident rider) and let your horse experience the beach and a crowd and all the fan fare.”
Over a decade ago my co-conspirator and library supervisor, Jackie McFadden told me not to roll a particular bookcart back to the stacks for re-shelving. This time we were going to commit and complete a manuscript on a chosen topic. It was 2006. Jackie McFadden had found the bill for the Marsh Tacky horse in the SC legislature. The bill passed in 2010, but we haven’t completed the book yet – it is still a work in progress . We hope to complete it this year.
Little did we know that bookcart would soon turn into small libraries in each of our homes, multiple plastic containers filled with interviews, newspaper clippings, a small grant for interviews, but still no book. We would visit the coastal side of South Carolina to wake up in nearly hurricane-like conditions to meet horses and their owners in gusty winds and hard rain. We listened to the old-timers, we pulled hair for DNA samples in that weather on Johns Island. We met Molly and her person, Janson Cox who generously allowed Jackie McFadden to pull Molly’s mane hair for DNA testing.Of course, he mentioned he didn’t want Molly mad at him for the hair pulling!
I met the owner of the horse I would own a decade later. Jackie McFadden eventually became a board member of the newly founded Carolina Marsh Tacky Association. And nothing slowed down long enough for us to write more than a few notes that lead to more research. There was always another interview, another mystery horse, another test result or another stash of historical papers uncovered. There were always things we could do for CMTA such as make informative brochures, design t-shirts or even give talks on the Marsh Tacky Horse.
Marsh Tacky horse owners traveled hours to come to events across the state to show people this amazing little horse that was such a lowcountry secret it was almost extinct. They didn’t ask for money to travel, they did it on their own dime.That is how much they believe in this little horse. They believed it needed to be the South Carolina State Heritage Horse.
Meanwhile the state bill loomed over our office, rejected time and again, countless re-writes and modifications. Four years later in 2010, (and who knows how many miles on rental cars or personal vehicles!) Jackie McFadden met with Governor Sanford of South Carolina along with other Marsh Tacky Breeders and enthusiasts when he signed the “South Carolina State Heritage Horse”, the Marsh Tacky, bill into law. Without a single cent to taxpayers! The “South Carolina State Heritage Horse” was finally one of our state symbols! DP Lowther, one of the breeders with the longest unbroken history in Marsh Tacky horses, asked Jackie McFadden to come pick out a horse. She did, and named her Little Miss River.
The Marsh Tacky horse is DP, a stud owned by David Grant and named in honor of DP Lowther.
As researchers, every nugget of information we found turned into another question about the Marsh Tacky. The most important one however was “How will anyone know we have a State Heritage Horse?” Truly a grassroots program began in education – a volunteer with a horse (Janson Cox), a volunteer with a camera (Jackie McFadden), and a volunteer with a notepad(me) got together and dubbed ourselves, “Team Molly”in 2010 at the second annual Carolina Marsh Tacky Association beach race. It was three years later and the official studbook had closed, the bill had passed and over 3,000 visitors were expected to see the race.
Molly sized up the competition that year and did not take home the trophy. The next year 2011, Molly showed the young horses how it was done, however. If she could rock the Marsh Tacky world being the oldest horse on the beach and out-run stallions, we had some more work to do. We pulled together a self-published book, “Beach Race Champion” and got to work. Molly the oldest horse in the race had the youngest rider!
We visited schools, historical sites, events, festivals,4-H clubs, businesses. The book sales provided some gas money to haul a horse on occasion but we still filled up our tanks and got our meals on the road. Molly’s jockey, Brittany would visit the schools and talk about riding a beach race horse whenever she could.
We soon realized one horse, even if it was the magnificent Molly, could not possibly cover the entire state of South Carolina. So we reached out to owners who cared about educating our state about its new South Carolina State Heritage Horse, the Marsh Tacky. And they did, they traveled wherever there was a need to have a horse so people would know about them. And they still do.
Over the past ten years we have been collecting oral histories, family histories and stories, getting to know owners new and old and relentlessly searching for what one of our interviewees called “a paper clip, you are searching for something everyone had and they forgot they had it”. We hope to complete more childrens books about Molly once our “Natural History of the Marsh Tacky” is complete.
I would like to take a moment to thank some of the horses for the visits:
Molly, a mystery mare Marsh Tacky, who pretty much owns Janson Cox and reminds him that all Calvary cannons will go uphill in any weather, despite the riders discomfort. She is also a Daughter of the American Revolution and Calvary mount.She has been in educational documentaries about the Revolutionary War.
Gator, a shiny grulla Marsh Tacky Stud, owned by Jim & Kim Brown, have graciously showed up at my own local school district in Clover, SC as well as in schools in Chester, SC with the toughest group of teenagers.Eventually Gators good-natured attitude persisted until the teens could not resist petting Gator. Then it was ‘Totally Awesome’ to pet Gator. Gator has also been in documentaries about the SC state Heritage horse.