Name of breed: Camarillo White Horse
Country of origin: USA
Breed origin: This rare breed of horse developed in the early 20th century and can be traced to a single foundation sire named Sultan. Known as a ‘Stallion of a dream’, Sultan was of Spanish descent and bright white with brown eyes. Born in 1912, he was out and about ten years later at the Sacramento State Fair when he was spotted and admired by a gentleman named Adolfo Camarillo, who purchased him for $500.
Adolfo took Sultan back to Ventura County and began a breeding program (with Morgan horse mares) with him in the hopes of keeping the coat white. Just as Adolfo wanted, Sultan passed his colour genetics onto his progeny and a family tradition developed along with the breed. For the next 65 years, this line of horses were privately owned and bred by the Camarillo family, and when Adolfo passed away, his daughter Carmen continued breeding and parading the Camarillo breed.
It was upon Carmen’s death in 1987, that the breed became almost extinct. In her will she stated that the horses were to be sold at public auction, ending the tradition of exclusive ownership of the breed by the Camarillo family. As per her wishes, the horses were all sold but in 1991, there were only 11 of them left. In response to the threat the Camarillo White Horse Associate was founded the following year to protect the remaining animals.
Today, the future of the Camarillo White horse breed lies in the hands of personal breeders, who take the preservation of the breed very seriously and still show them off in parades around the country.
Distinguishing features: The Camarillo White Horse has become famous over the years for their brilliant white coat. Unlike a gray horse that is born dark and lightens with age, these horses are born white and remain that way throughout their lives.
But don’t be caught out by thinking they are a colour breed, these horses have defined physical characteristics as well. They are known to have strong limbs, an expressive face, large eyes and a well-arched neck.
True white is a very difficult colour to achieve – statistically there is only a 50% chance of producing living white offspring from any given mating due to the unusual characteristic of the white ‘W’ gene. Although a dominant gene, if both parents carry it (WW) the foal will die in the womb. This means that all living true white horses are heterozygous (Ww) for the gene. So, when a white horse (Ww) is bred to a non-white (ww) horse, there is only a 50% chance of produce white and a 50% change of producing a non-white horse. Because of this, the Camarillo White Association’s motto is “Breed for conformation and pray for a white foal.”
Modern day Camarillo White Horse: Used as parade horses, the Camarillo White Horse have appeared in every Santa Barbara Fiesta parade since it began in 1924 in California. They are also the official horse of the city of Camarillo.
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