Saving a Dying Breed

Wild Horses Living on California’s Channel Islands Evolved Into a Unique Breed but Face an Uncertain Future on the Mainland

Photo of horse being trained
Abby Followwill, a trainer at El Campeon Farms, works with a young Santa Cruz Island Horse. Joe Proudman / UC Davis

For more than a century, wild horses lived on Santa Cruz Island, becoming a breed of their own, with unique traits formed by generations of living on the rugged Channel Islands. Now off of the island, the repercussions of seclusion have left the breed teetering on the brink of extinction.

A multimedia story posted today explores how researchers from UC Davis are working to preserve the Santa Cruz Island horse.

photo of horse
Truffles, the oldest Santa Cruz Island stallion at El Campeon Farms. Karin Higgins / UC Davis

“It’s truly a piece of California history we’re trying to preserve,” said UC Davis researcher Amy McLean. “If we lose these genetics, we lose these horses, we lose that history and a part of our heritage.”

Read the story and watch the videos, “Saving a Dying Breed.”


Media Resources

Joe Proudman, UC Davis Strategic Communications, 530-752-6397,

Amy McLean, UC Davis Animal Science, 706-296-8743,

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