pen rainbow

Sunday, April 22, 2012


photo by heidi harris

Holy cow!  Wild gators & cracker horses

Today, we spent the afternoon at PAYNES PRAIRIE & saw two of Florida's most amazing creatures—wild alligators & wild horses called "cracker" horses, which are descendants of Spanish horses brought to the Southeastern United States in 1521.

These sturdy little horses are gaited horses, which means that they have a naturally smooth style of movement in addition to the usual walk, trot, cantor, and gallop of most horses.  Cracker horses got their name from the cracking sound of bullwhips used by early cowboys.

2 nursing foals + 2 mares + a colt or a filly

a family of Florida cracker horses
It was a thrill to see a small family of cracker horses cross the trail right between us and another group of walkers.  These horses nearly became extinct after the 1930's when quarter horses were brought into Florida to herd larger breeds of cattle.  Their numbers are considered critical and their status endangered.

Seeing wild gators lying next to the trail is, as my sister, Heidi, put it, like seeing lions on the side of the trail.  It is an absolute rush and the thrill of a lifetime to see these critters in their natural habitat.  We were in their territory, not the other way around.  In the presence of a top predator, everybody obeys the rules!

Check out my slideshow on Vimeo!

super-cute baby gator