Lucas, Z. 2009. The Sable Island horses: a tapestry of questions. Genesis 24: 11-15.
Summary (ZL): Lucas’s field study of the horses began in 1985 with preliminary observations on selected groups, and within two years the monitoring work extended to the entire population. A goal of the program was to collect data on the life histories of individual horses, band composition, group dynamics, and range use and movements. In addition, tissues from dead horses, and skulls, were routinely collected for further study. Thus, with over twenty-five years of data available, it is possible to provide some comprehensive descriptions of biology and behaviour of the island’s horses. The protected status of the Sable population prohibits handling of the horses and thus collection of specimens such as blood and hair from live individuals is not permitted. Thus far all study has been based on field observations, on whatever can be gleaned from bone and tissue collected from horses that have died of natural causes, and on analyses of feces and urine. For example, a pregnancy monitoring study used measurements of estrogen levels in samples of fresh feces from a group of identified mares to assess reproductive status (see Lucas et al. 1991). Although the protective restrictions present some challenges for data collection, they make the Sable horse population all the more interesting. [Genesis, the quarterly publication of Rare Breeds Canada, has published articles about the Sable horses in two previous issues, Fall 2004 (Lucas, vol.19, no.3) and Winter 2007 (Plante, vol.22, no. 4).]