Sabucedo horses WE

We would like to thank Ivan Sanmartin Eirin and the Asociación Rapa das Bestas for filing this entry.


Species: Equus caballus


The horses of Sabucedo, like many horses in the Galician hills are of pony type. It has been proposed that some of these horses may actually be a subspecies of wild horse, Equus ferus atlanticus (Barcena, 2011). However these claims are pending DNA testing.

Country: Spain

Region/Province/Range: Mountains around Sabucedo, Estrada, Cuntis, Moranha, Campo Lameiro, Cerdedo, Forcarei, all of which are in the province of Pontevedra

Population type: Semi-feral

Estimated Population size: about 400 horses (2015)

Management Authority: Private association: Asociación Rapa das Bestas de Sabucedo

Management Practices: Yearly – Micro-chipping – Ear clipping – Parasite control – removal of foals

Images by Victor Ros

Details of Population:

The horses running freely around Sabucedo have been doing so since at least the 16th century when, according to legend, some horses were set free in the mountains as an offering to St. Lorenzo to protect the people from a plague. Since then, horses are rounded up and driven down to the town of Sabucedo for the annual Rapa das bestas (shearing of the beasts) festival. During the ‘Rapa’, horses manes and tails are sheared, ears clipped, and some horses are removed from the herd to keep the population number at bay.

Structure and demographics

Approximately 300 mares, their offspring (n=85) and 15 stallions live freely in the mountains surrounding the town of Sabucedo. Given the mare-stallion ratio, it is customary to find all mare groups wandering the hills with their young.

Issues worth noting and needed actions

These horses are not afforded any legal protection and are allegedly under threat from encroaching cow ranchers.

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