The Marsh Tacky: Lowcountry born and bred

Dated: October 18 2021

Views: 72

You may have heard about wild horses roaming the Lowcountry and its marshes. It's true. Or, at least it was. They're a special breed of horse, called the Marsh Tacky, and their history runs very deep here in Beaufort SC.

Originally brought to the area by Spanish settlers, the Marsh Tacky developed on our local Sea Islands over some three centuries time. Today's sparse population are the descendants of Colonial Spanish horses brought to the coast of South Carolina in the 16th century, when the Spanish attempted the first European settlements in the New World.

From that point forward, the Marsh Tacky was primarily used as a pack horse on Native American trade routes and the horses were often sold when traders reached the end of their route in Charleston. They were managed for many years mainly as feral herds, and were gathered by locals when horses were needed; and this tradition had continued into the early 20th century.

Marsh Tackies were bred to thrive in the hot, humid climate of the Lowcountry. They’re small, very sturdy, calm-natured and brave. While other larger horses struggled in the difficult terrain of the swamps, pluff mud and marshes, the Marsh Tacky was revered for being sure-footed and for not panicking in difficult situations.

Both traits were essential for work and for life in the early days of the Lowcountry.

Playing a vital role in the very early history of America, the Marsh Tacky was the preferred horse of soldiers under Francis Marion, the “Swamp Fox”, whose victories in the Revolutionary War helped secure victory for the patriots, and gave birth to the United States of America. The British army used big, heavy war horses and they were at a disadvantage in the swamps of South Carolina, while the sure-footed Marsh Tacky moved elements of the army through impenetrable, unsettled swampland with relative ease.

While the Marsh Tacky was a vital part of South Carolina's history and culture, they are now very rare, with only around 400 documented Marsh Tackies in existence today.

They were believed to have gone extinct during the 1980s. About ten years ago, there were only around 100 left, and the breed nearly entirely disappeared. Through the dedicated work of the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association and Marsh Tacky owners, the breed is slowly making its comeback today. 

It's wonderful to have so much history surrounding you in Beaufort SC.

If you're thinking of relocating to the Beaufort SC area, Century 21 Carolina Realty can help make your dream a reality by helping you find your forever home here in the Lowcountry. Call us at 843-521-2121 and one of our experienced agents can assist you in becoming a Beaufort local.

We live the Lowcountry life, and we want to share it with you. 

Cover photo courtesy Caroline Knight

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