After Columbus came to the "New World" on his first voyage, he brought small horses in subsequent voyages and established breeding herds on Hispaniola and Cuba. Hernan Cortes followed in the early 1500's also bringing horses to Hispaniola from the Galician province of Northern Spain. In 1519 when he invaded the mainland of Mexico, he brought along some of these horses which significantly impressed the natives and resulting in them believing the Spaniards were "gods." On his following trips, horses were brought to the mainland for the Spaniards who were colonizing Mexico near Veracruz. There, some of those horses bred, and through natural selection rather than the artificial selection of humans, resulted in the horses we now call "Galiceños." They are therefore descended from the earliest "Spanish Colonial Horse" in the Americas and are very pure Spanish Colonial horses in the sense that there has been little if any genetic exchange with other breeds because of their isolation. Some of these horses were brought into the United States from 1958 through the mid '60's to establish the US registry of "Galiceño Horse Breed."
In 1958, Harvey Mecom of Liberty, Texas, came across some of these feral horses in the Yucatan and imported a large number for his ranch. Also in 1958, Glenn Bracken of Tyler, Texas, and Charles Dolan of Eagle Pass, Texas, began to import these horses into Texas and in 1959, they established the Galiceño Horse Breeders Association headquartered initially in Tyler, Texas, but soon moved to Godley, Texas under Bill Giles. In 2012, the registry was transferred to Bob and Glinda Tackett of Jacksboro, Texas.
Galiceños grow to be 12hh – 13.2hh in height and can be found in solid colors from black, dark bay to palomino, duns, and roans. Although small in size, the larger individuals are fully capable of carrying an adult human very efficiently. They are exceptionally gentle horses with a very strong herding dynamic. Stallions can be kept together with very little aggression between individuals.
Galiceños have been successfully kept and bred in southern humid climates, southern dry climates, and northern climates in Washington, Idaho, and British Columbia. They are “easy keepers” with hay or pasture and may need some grain supplement in the winter of minimum 10% protein, 6% fat quality feed.
Historically, the Galiceno was used for ranch work. Their agility and intelligence made them popular for youth competitions and they excelled in barrel racing. Current market is limited due to their size compared to other breeds but the best possibilities for the breed are in the “Pony” Hunter/Jumper show circuits. Additional opportunities are with the riding stables with young clientele or as hippotherapy horses.
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