Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Off Site Corolla Breeding Program: Keeping Hope Alive

The Banker strain of Colonial Spanish Horse is nearly extinct. These historic horses descend from those brought to the southeast by the earliest Spanish explorers in the 1500's. Life on the Outer Banks of North Carolina isolated them from the influence of other breeds. In the 18th century "Chickasaw Horses",(a term for Spanish horses who were bred by the Indians of the southeast) were introduced to the area along with a smaller version of the Banker,called the "Seminole Pony".

In the early 20th Century over five thousand wild Bankers ran free on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Today only two herds remain, the Corollas and the Shacklefords, totaling less than three hundred wild horses in all.

Mill Swamp Indian Horses is a program of Gwaltney Frontier Farm, Inc, a 501 (c) 5 breed conservation nonprofit organization in Smithfield Virginia. We are all volunteers with no paid staff. See our website at and take a look at our Mill Swamp Indian Horses group face book page for more information on our program.

One of our most important goals is to promote the development of additional off site breeding facilities for these historic horses. The development program is simple. If one acquires a colt from our program one agrees that he is never to be gelded and will be made available for breeding at no cost to other mares in the offsite breeding program. If one obtains a filly from our program one agrees to seek, over the lifetime of the horse, to produce at least four foals from a stallion in the program and to seek to place any foals that they do not keep with another breeder who will agree to the same terms for that foal.

Under the appropriate circumstances we might even be able to donate adult horses to someone interested in setting up an offsite breeding program. All off spring produced by the program are to be registered with the Horse of The Americas Registry.

The Corollas have been reduced in number to the degree that they face genetic collapse and sterility. For that reason we are bringing genetics back into these horses that have been lost over the years. No modern breeds of horses are used in the program. To build our breeding foundation we breed Corollas to other Bankers from the Island of Shackleford. We are also beginning to breed Choctaws to the Corollas. Eventually I want to bring in some Marsh Tacky lines. Stepping outside the box a bit, we are also bringing in a line of Grand Canyon Colonial Spanish Horses that descend from Barbed Wire who is shown in the top picture. He is phenotypically more similar to Bankers than any other Colonial Spanish Horse strain that I have seen.

The off spring of these horses provide the foundation stock who are then bred to pure Corollas. Out crosses are kept to a minimum as the program develops.

Over the years we have placed horses in the breeding program in a handful of other sites. We now have sufficient diversity in our breeding foundation to work to aggressively expand the program. Last summer we produced a beautiful colt and a flashy filly. Both are now owned by pople who will use them to preserve the strain for years to come.

Last spring and fall we made the following crosses:
1. Two Corolla/Choctaw crosses with two different Corolla stallions
2. Two Grand Canyon/Corolla crosses.
3. One Shackeleford/Corolla cross.

So in 2017 we will likely have at least five foals produced for the program. Don't make this a last minute, hasty decision. Begin to consider no whether you would like to reserve one of these foals and begin to develop a small scale, affordable program to help prevent the extinction of the Corollas.

You will not get rich doing this. You likely will not break even. But you will be part of the effort to save a line of extraordinary horses.

Contact us at for more information.

And you can be part of this effort. Go to our website and make a contribution today. We are a 501 (c) 5 non-profit breed conservation program and as such contributions are not tax deductible. We are in our seventh day of our month long social media fundraising effort. Feel free to share this with everyone that you know who cares about horses and people.


Dianne W said...

I have never seen that photo of Barbed Wire as a foal before. Very nice!

Steve Edwards said...

That photo was a mistake--did not mean to have that one up there- is now replad with picture of Barb Wire