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Sable Island Pony

Sable Island Pony
Feral Sable Island Ponies
Country of origin: Sable Island
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)

The Sable Island Pony is a type of feral horse found on Sable Island, an island off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada.



The first horses on Sable Island were brought to the island during the late 1700s. Many people believe that they arrived on the island from the many shipwrecks. However, this romantic notion is false—they were in fact intentionally left on Sable to graze and multiply. The first recorded horses were brought by a Boston clergyman, the Reverend Andrew Le Mercier in 1737, but they were mostly stolen by passing mariners. The present day horses are thought to descend from a horses and seized from Acadians during the Expulsion of the Acadians which were purchased and brought to the island in 1760 by Boston merchant and shipowner Thomas Hancock. [1] Although often referred to as ponies due to their small size, they have a horse phenotype.

After the government of Nova Scotia established a lifesaving station on Sable Island in 1801, some of the horses were trained to haul supplies and rescue equipment. Additional horses were brought by lifesaving staff to the island as additions and improvements to the herd's breeding stock. One of the first specific horses on the island for which there was a record of importation was the stallion, Jolly, who was taken there in 1801.[2]

Breed characteristics

The horses that remain on Sable Island are feral, but in the past, those exported to the mainland were tamed to ride, and said to be excellent, tough and enduring, and able to travel with ease on any terrain. Present day horses are all very hardy and thrive in an inhospitable environment. The herds are not managed, nor subject to human interference and so exhibit a range of characteristics. In general, they have nice heads with a straight or convex profile and are short, stocky and muscular in frame. Their coats are mostly dark colours, but some do exhibit white markings; there are no grays.

See also

  • Landrace


  1. "Free as the Wind: How Horses Came to Sable Island", Nova Scotia Museum Sable Island web site
  2. Hendricks, Bonnie L; Anthony A. Dent (2007). International Encyclopedia of Horse Breeds. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 486. ISBN 080613884X. 

External links


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