Horses run free in Vieques, and admittedly, it is one of my favorite things about Vieques. There is just something so fun and Caribbean about traffic jams caused by horses. Of course, there are positives and negatives to this phenomenon; but it is something entirely unique to Vieques.
History of the Vieques Horses
The wild horses of Vieques are descendents of the horses that invading conquistadors brought to Vieques in the first decades of the 16th century. The ancestors of the “Paso Fino” (the horse with the fine gait) include Andalusions, Barbs and Spanish Jennets. The Spanish Jennet – now an extinct breed – was the main contributor to the exceptionally smooth gait.
The Paso Fino developed from the random breeding of the above horses and soon became prized for their endurance and their comfortable gait. The Pure Puerto Rican Paso Fino has, through years of selected breeding, preserved the wonderful 4 beat gait that trainers must often teach Paso Finos bred in other countries.
After the collapse of a short gold rush, horses became the principal export product of Puerto Rico and thousands were shipped to the New World to satisfy the growing demand. ” (Excerpt from the Paso Fino Website.)
Who do the Vieques Horses belong to?
Some of the horses that you see roaming the island may indeed be branded by someone that is claiming them as a pleasure horse or for breeding stock. Owners may not have the land to graze and sustain horses; or personal choice may be why you see some of these horses roaming where there is ample grass and in some cases fresh water. You will see herds of horses around the island, particularly in Sun Bay and in the Green Beach area.
There is a common joke that ‘noone’ owns the horse until ‘someone’ tries to claim it, and then ‘everyone’ owns the horse.
This article was written by Captain Tim and the Crew of Caribbean Trading Company.
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