Plante, Y, JL Vega-Pla, Z Lucas, D Colling, B de March & F Buchanan. 2007. Genetic diversity in a feral horse population from Sable Island, Canada. Journal of Heredity 98(6): 594-602.

Summary (ZL): In this study, the genetic diversity of the Sable Island horses was characterized and compared to that of 15 other horse breeds found in Canada, and five Spanish breeds. The latter were chosen because some early popular accounts had suggested that the Sable horses are descended from shipwrecked Spanish horses. Such origins, however, were not supported by historical research, and are not supported by this study. The results reported in this paper indicate that the Sable Island horses more closely resemble the light draft and multipurpose breeds commonly found in eastern Canada. Although it was not possible to be more specific about the origin of the Sable horse, this study suggests that the island’s horses share a common ancestor with the Newfoundland, Icelandic and Norwegian Fjord breeds. The authors note “The Sable Island horse population has diverged enough from other breeds to deserve special attention by conservation interest groups.”  (The colour photo on the cover of this issue of the Journal of Heredity shows the eight-year-old mare Navigator, and her female foal, on a dune overlooking the north shore of Sable Island.)