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Retuerta horses released into Salamanca nature reserve
WILD horses in danger of extinction will be released into the open hundreds of miles from their native stamping ground in a bid to increase its population by casting their net wider.
The Retuerta, thought to be the oldest breed in Europe, runs wild in the Doñana national park in the province of Cádiz, and there are now only around 150 of them left.
About 20 of these will be taken north to Salamanca and set free in the Campanarios de Azaba reserve as part of an attempt to repopulate the Spanish countryside with wildlife.
In recent years, with the decline in livestock farming and therefore fewer animals to eat down the pasture, Spain's natural mosaïc-like landscape is becoming rough at the edges.
Wild and free-roaming domestic fauna is necessary for conservation purposes, reveal representatives of the Rewilding Europe West Iberian programme, partly run by the Nature and Man Foundation.
Retuerta horses are generally a maximum of 16hh and typically grey or dark bay.
Their coarse appearance, poor conformation and intractable nature meant they were considered inferior species until very recently when their true value became recognised.
Unlike most native breeds of horses and ponies in the western world, there are no known cases of Retuertas being bred privately, and even if caught – which is extremely difficult – breaking them in for riding, driving or working the fields is usually nearly impossible due to their feisty character.
Photograph of herd of Retuerta horses in the Doñana national park, by the Fundación Naturaleza y Hombre
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