Distribution of the Wilbur-Cruce horse after the rescue:
Text written by Silke Schneider
© 1996. All rights reserved.
Stallion Galán in the Dragoon Mountains in 2000 with trainer
Five major groups were formed following bloodtyping. Dr Sponenberg
identified renowned horse breeders that were expected to continue
the line of the Wilbur-Cruce horse. The
largest group went to California, one group to New Mexico, two
groups to Oklahoma, and one to central Arizona. None remained near
the ranch in southern Arizona. It was more important at that time
to find breeders who were truly dedicated to preserving the herd
than to keep the horses in their original environment (southern
Arizona). The New Mexico group was in an environment similar to
that of the Wilbur-Cruce Ranch.
I read an article on the Wilbur-Cruce horse in March of 1997,
written by Janie Dobrott and Jean Walsh, published in the American
Livestock Breeds Conservancy newsletter. In
this article the need for breeders, especially in southwestern
United States was stressed. Botanist Richard Felger and
myself went to see the first group in New Mexico. It was decided
to start a small breeding program at our small ranchito
northwest of Tucson with the goal of promoting the Wilbur-Cruce
horse and to encourage other breeders to start programs. This
program was successful. The Dragoon Mountain Ranch, not far from
Wilbur-Cruce ranch, started a program in 1988 with eight mares and
one stallion. The size of the ranch allows the horses to be in a
natural setting. Those horses are some of the original foundation
mares and stallions. The group was on lease. Foals from that
breeding group and unrelated Wilbur-Cruce stallions now form the
Dragoon Mountain Ranch breeding group.
We now have breeding groups in Arizona, New Mexico, California,
Nebraska and Colorado as of 2009.
Heritage Breeds Southwest relocated their breeding program from
Tucson, Arizona, to Silver City, New Mexico, in June of 2007.