Sunny is a special horse. Not just because she’s so special to us but also because she has an incredible pedrigree.
Her official name is ‘Mirasol’ which means ‘look at the sun’ and she has been with us since 1996, when she came to us from Rancho Del Sueño in California.
Sunny's Family History
The interesting part of Sunny’s heritage is that it’s traceable to the original horses brought by the Spanish when they first came to the Americas.
Sunny is unique because she’s a Wilbur-Cruce Colonial Spanish horse. The Cruce horses are direct descendants of horses that came to the New World from Spain in the 1500s. In 1989 the horses on the Wilbur-Cruce ranch were identified as a rare, genetic type – DNA results pointed to their characteristics being ‘Old World Spanish’ and ‘North African Barb’. The original stock of the herd came from Father Kino’s Mission Dolores in Sonora, Mexico. The group of horses had been breed on the ranch for over 100 years prior, having been purchased by the ranch from the Mission.
In 1990 the Wilbur-Cruce family donated the horses to The Nature Conservancy and they, in turn, partnered with a number breeders including Robin Collins at Rancho Del Sueño (where Sunny was born) in order to protect the bloodlines. Since then, Robin has maintained the genetic diversity of the horses via a careful breeding program in order to preserve the integrity of these amazing horses.
Fun Fact! The Wilbur-Cruce horses look very similar to the horses found in a lot of Baroque-era art, and are in fact closer to the horses from this era than those found in Spain today.
The breed is known for its intelligence, agility and hardiness. Sunny is no exception. On the boat trip from California to Hawaii she was accompanied by a large herd of goats. The barge tender told me that in the course of the journey Sunny twice untied the latch on the gate and let the goats loose on the barge…
Fiercely competitive Sunny will always seek to be number one. If I’m riding with her in a group situation she will insist on riding in front and won’t be happy until she is!
Sunny and the Gang
After Sunny’s best friend, Buck, died a few years ago she decided to ‘adopt’ the donkeys Poncho and Lefty as her new friends – allowing them to keep her company…
She still rules the pastures – Poncho and Lefty know who’s boss – but Sunny is basically now retired. However, she will gladly snack on carrots from the guests and is always happy to have some attention if you just want to spend time petting her and, of course, reminding her of her distinguished pedigree!
Support the Wilbur-Cruce Spanish Horse
Interested in supporting the preservation of Sunny’s family? Rancho Del Sueño is the equine division of the Heritage Discovery Center, a registered non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the critically endangered Wilbur-Cruce Spanish horse. Their mission is to save this amazing breed from extinction. To find out more about the great work the ranch does, and to support them, check out the link below.
And for more information on the Wilbur-Cruce Spanish horse:
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