KBR Wild Horse and Burro News

Preservation Efforts Start to Pay Off!

Story date: October 28, 2002

Photo credit: Arkwild, Inc.
How You can Help
Great Abaco Island, Bahamas
Armed with recognition by the Horses of Americas Registry as an endangered Spanish Barb breed, Milanne Rehor and the Friends of the Abaco Barb organization appear to be making significant headway in preserving these rare horses.

Once numbering around 200 head, the 16 remaining colorful descendants of horses that arrived when Columbus explored the Caribbean were at great risk of losing their last critical habitat.

Diligent efforts over the years by The Fund for Abaco Horses, Arkwild and Friends of the Abaco Barb have caught the attention of the appropriate governmental officials. The Abaco Barbs may be preserved and a portion of their traditional habitat reserved for them.

On October 24th Milanne Rehor sent this update on her most recent meeting in Nassau.

Dear Friends,

Yesterday's Nassau meeting was quite an event. I did not come away with the deed to the preserve in hand, but it sure seems that will be forthcoming.

Nadine Smith (a member of my board of Directors) and I arrived at the House of Assembly and were escorted to the visitors' gallery. I have to admit I've never been to see a session of the US congress, and it was truly impressive to be right at the heart of this far flung archipelago's government. "Ground Zero," as a friend described it. After we arrived the Minister of Tourism introduced us to many of the Country's other Ministers, among them the Minister of Works, the Minister of Aviation and Transportation, the Deputy Prime Minister and many other officials who have realized the horses' potential.

We were then whisked away to a private meeting room and the Prime Minister himself came in and talked about the horses with us for nearly ten minutes. We were later told that he is so strongly behind the project that he delayed a departure to Jamaica just to meet us.

Well that was pretty heady stuff. Then we went back to the Assembly room where parliamentary representatives of the two parties sit across from each other under the stern eye of the Speaker of the House. We heard presentations about a piece of legislation regarding tourism, and then the Prime Minister gave about an eight minute talk about the horses and what they mean for the future of Abaco and the Bahamas. He was not only eloquent, he used no notes whatsoever and it was very clear that he was thoroughly versed in the facts and was very familiar with the whole problem, it's history, and potential future. He graciously drew the attention of the Assembly to our presence and we were rewarded with a low rumbling thunder of palms slapped on desktops which was a far more impressive gesture than a smattering of handclaps. I found out later the whole session had been televised and that we will be able to get a tape of the segment pertaining to the horses.

Good heavens, it didn't stop there. After the session was adjourned other Ministers and officials introduced themselves, we did a brief newspaper interview and finished up that part of the adventure with an interview with TV ZNS in company with the Ambassador to the Environment who also heads the BEST commission (Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology). ZNS will likely be in Abaco next week to film a longer program about the horses, and we are hoping that the Minister of Tourism and the Prime Minister get to Abaco soon as they have both said they are eager to see the horses first hand.

This was followed with a ride to the airport from our local member of Parliament from Abaco. Friends now jokingly refer to me as the Member of Parliament for the Equine Constituency.

I think it's safe to say that just about the entire country is now aware of the project, the PM himself has said that he will spearhead the efforts to get the preserve going as soon as possible.

I feel as though I've awakened on a new planet. Ten years of uphill climb with no end in sight and then with the determined and knowledgeable help of Anthony Bostwick, the President of our local friends group, we are now on the other side of the mountain. I find I compare the adventure, so far, with surgery I once had for a broken leg. There was the misery of the injury, not knowing what would happen next, just the certain knowledge that there was a serious problem and help was needed from many people. Carted off, I waited for a long time in trying circumstances and worked hard just to keep things together and to keep breathing. Finally, I was wheeled off yet again and suddenly woke up to find that it was all over, that part was forever in the past. Many hands had made me whole again. Recovery and healing were not easy or pain free, but it was a whole different ball game and there was to be a future.

The real meaning of all this was brought home to me when I was told last night, at a surprise celebratory dinner, that last Monday a Texan had called the Prime Minister himself and said the Minister should name the price, he wanted to buy the whole herd and would send his men in to take them away as soon as possible. The Prime Minister, with, I am sure, the inimitable grace and charm of the Bahamas, informed him that they were not for sale under any circumstances.

I slept very, very well last night.

Milanne Rehor


Until everything is signed, sealed and delivered, letters and communiques of support for these horses are definitely beneficial. One useful contact is the Ministry of Tourism. The ministry has a Contact Us page that contains a link where you can leave comments. (If the Ministry of Tourism views the horses as a potential tourist attraction, they hopefully will help lobby for establishing a viable long term preserve.)

You can also help by checking into the Abaco Wild Horse Fund website. This is an interesting website with lots of photos that discusses how the horses arrived, how they survived, their decline and efforts to preserve the remaining horses. The Friends of Abaco Horses need a variety of supplies, equipment and financial support in order to make the preserve a reality. There are several suggestions on this site as to how you can help. It is definitely worth visiting.

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