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South Carolina State Heritage Horse

Marsh Tacky Equus caballus Adopted: June 11, 2010
South Carolina state heritage horse
South Carolina Heritage Horse: Marsh Tacky
Photograph © Jackie McFadden. Used with permission.

In 2005, House Bill No. 3772 (HB3772) was introduced, proposing that the marsh tacky be named the official state horse of South Carolina. HB3772 was introduced, read once in the House of Representatives, and assigned to a House committed for consideration. The bill never made it out of committee for a vote.

Again, in 2006, a bill was introduced urging the adoption of the marsh tacky as the state's official horse. Again, the bill was left in committee, never coming to the House floor for a vote.

In 2008, the fledgling Carolina Marsh Tacky Association, as part of their efforts to gain attention for the preservation of the Carolina marsh tackies, formed a committee to facilitate efforts to declare the marsh tacky the official state horse of South Carolina. Jackie McFadden was named to head the committee.

2008 saw the introduction of House Bill No. 3044 (HB3044) for the consideration of the 118th South Carolina Legislature (2009-2010).

Also introduced, in January, 2009, was a bill in the Senate to name the marsh tacky the official "heritage horse." This was Senate Bill No. 1030 (SB1030).

SB1030 was passed in the Senate on April 20, 2010 and sent to the House for its consideration.

It was in the House that SB1030 was amended to include the mule as the official state heritage work animal.

The House passed the bill on May 12, 2010, as amended, and sent it back to the Senate for its approval.

The Senate made a small change and corrected an error and passed the bill back to the House, where SB1030 received final legislative approval on June 1, 2010.

The reasons to name the marsh tacky the official state heritage horse are clearly spelled out in Senate Bill No. 1030.

A BILL

TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION 1-1-714 SO AS TO DESIGNATE THE MARSH TACKY AS THE OFFICIAL STATE HERITAGE HORSE OF SOUTH CAROLINA.

Amend Title To Conform

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION 1. The General Assembly finds:

(1) The Marsh Tacky, a rare colonial Spanish horse breed unique to South Carolina, has played a significant role in South Carolina's history. After abandonment by the Spanish on the South Carolina Sea Islands and along the South Carolina coast some five hundred years ago, the Marsh Tacky survived on its own and developed into a unique strain of colonial Spanish horse. These tough, little horses assisted our forefathers in the development and defense of our State and were the major source of transportation in the Lowcountry before the introduction of the automobile. Marsh Tackies were important to the Gullah community and became an integral part of agricultural life for Lowcountry families. Marsh Tackies were used wherever horsepower was needed; to pull plows and wagons, herd cattle, hunt wild game, deliver the mail, transport families, and as loyal, sturdy war mounts. Most Lowcountry families had Marsh Tackies in their fields or gardens.

(2) During the American Revolution, Marsh Tackies assisted in the victories of the famous 'Swamp Fox' General Francis Marion, whose troops of 'Irregulars' had the advantage of being mounted on small, agile horses that were superbly adapted to the Lowcountry's rough, swampy terrain. Marsh Tackies required little care from the troops, were able to travel long distances without fatigue, and survived on forage, reducing the need for supply wagons carrying grain. The sure-footed Marsh Tacky enabled the militia to out maneuver the British troops who rode larger European horse breeds that could not traverse the swampy forests.

(3) Marsh Tackies served the southern Confederate cavalry during the Civil War. Unlike northern troops who were issued horses, southern recruits were often required to provide their own mounts, which were trained and familiar with their riders, giving an early advantage to the southern forces.

(4) In World War II, Marsh Tackies were used by the Coast Guard's Mounted Beach Patrol to protect our mainland from enemy spies and saboteurs. The 'Beach Pounders' who patrolled the southeastern shore were trained at the Mounted Beach Patrol and Dog Training Center in Hilton Head, South Carolina, and patrolled the coast from Florida to North Carolina.

(5) Marsh Tackies have little changed since the colonial period. Relative isolation on the Sea Islands and secluded areas of the Lowcountry, along with owner dedication to the preservation of the breed, has allowed the Marsh Tacky to remain relatively untouched. Owners often comment on the built-in 'woods sense' of the breed and how the horses have a natural way of traversing water obstacles and swamps. Many horses display characteristics and primitive markings carried by their Spanish ancestors including dorsal stripes, zebra leg stripes, and lengthy manes and tails.

(6) In 2007, Marsh Tacky owners and enthusiasts across the State formed the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association to preserve and promote the history and heritage of the Marsh Tacky horse. The association works closely with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy to provide ongoing registry, stud book, and breeding program to ensure the survival of the Marsh Tacky.

(7) With its rich heritage, resilience, and perseverance, the Marsh Tacky embodies the very spirit of South Carolina. The Marsh Tacky is uniquely of South Carolina and remains a living piece of history in its native State, a claim that no other breed can make. The Marsh Tacky has earned the title of State Heritage Horse of South Carolina.

SECTION 2. Chapter 1, Title 1 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

"Section 1-1-714. The Marsh Tacky is designated as the official State Heritage Horse of South Carolina."

SECTION 3. Chapter 1, Title 1 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

"Section 1-1-714A. The mule is hereby designated as the official State Heritage Work Animal of South Carolina."

SECTION 4. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.

----XX----

The marsh tacky became South Carolina's official state heritage horse when Governor Mark Sanford signed Senate Bill No. 1030 on June 11, 2010.

The Carolina Marsh Tacky Association was jubilant!

After a long 5 years, the Marsh Tacky has become the official State Heritage Horse of South Carolina! The Governor’s signature on June 11, 2010 gave formal recognition to an important part of South Carolina’s living history. This horse forged the southern wilderness, survived while others perished, carried our ancestors through war, sustained countless families, and managed to hang on despite the invasion of tractors, automobiles, bridges, and urban sprawl.

Thank you to all who have supported this bill and to the members of our state legislature who recognized this hearty, spirited, little horse as an important part of our heritage. [1]

Jackie McFadden
CMTA State Horse Committee


Sources...

[1] "We Did It." Carolina Marsh Tacky Association Newsletter Jun 2010, Vol. 2, Issue 4: 1.
State of South Carolina. South Carolina Code of Laws. Columbia: State of South Carolina, 2011. Web. 21 May 2011. <http://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/statmast.htm>.
State of South Carolina. Senate Bill No. 1031. Columbia: State of Carolina, 2010. Web. 25 May 2011. <http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess118_2009-2010/prever/1030_20100519.htm>.
Shearer, Benjamin F. and Barbara S. State Names, Seals, Flags and Symbols: A Historical Guide Third Edition, Revised and Expanded. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 3 Sub edition, 2001.


South Carolina state heritage horse
Marsh Tacky Foal
Photograph © Jackie McFadden. Used with permission.

Additional Information

Carolina Marsh Tacky Association: Official website offers information on state heritage horse including the history of the breed, the breed standard, and video of the ceremonial bill signing naming the marsh tacky the official state heritage horse of South Carolina.

Carolina Marsh Tacky Ourdoors: Website of South Carolina marsh tacky owner, breeder, advocate David Grant.

Marsh Tackies on YouTube: Video of marsh tackies, including races and the bill-signing naming the marsh tacky South Carolina's official state heritage horse.

Wild Horse (Equus caballus): National Wildlife Foundation's eNature.com field guide.

Equus caballus (Horse): The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology: Animal Diversity Web.

Equus caballus - (Linnaeus, 1758), Horse: A network connecting science with conservation - NatureServe Explorer: An Online Encyclopedia of Life.

Equus caballusLinnaeus, 1758: Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Here you will find authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.

State Horses: Complete list of official horses from NETSTATE.COM.

State Mammals: Complete list of official state mammals from NETSTATE.COM.

More symbols & emblems: Complete list of official South Carolina state symbols from NETSTATE.COM.

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