Things are happening in the world of the Sorraia Mustang. The young Sorraia stallion‘s import from Germany to Ravenseyrie on Manitoulin Island in Canada by Lynne Gerard and Kevin Droski was a breakthrough, as he has sired foals with mustang mares which look very promising. Diane Pinney, a dedicated breeder of Sorraia Mustangs in Oregon, mostly of Kiger extraction, can also be happy with the results her program is yielding. "BubbaDusty", a stallion she bred that is by her senior sire, Silver Bullet, is possibly the most Sorraia-like stallion in America. The only thing that keeps him from being included in the Permanent book of the SMS is the star he has on his forehead, but typewise, he's got "Sorraia" and "Iberian" written all over him. Diane is also proud of Salamander and Donovan, two more colts by Silver Bullet. Donovan is earmarked to go to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary to start the Sorraia Mustang herd there. Some of Diane's mares are excellent, too. Sharron Scheikofsky and Dave Reynolds in South Dakota have produced a number of horses that made it into the Permanent and Foundation books of the Sorraia Mustang Studbook. Sheri Olson in Cheyenne, Wymoing, has aquired stock that will give her Sorraia Mustang program a headstart. Susan Watt from the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary near Hot Springs in South Dakota is putting together a group of Sorraia Mustangs for another preservation project. The Sanctuary will be a spectacular place to visit and see Sorraia Mustangs in a natural western setting.

Mares on Diane Pinney‘s place in Oregon


Among those who are devoted to the preservation of the Sorraia-type mustang, Lynne Gerard and Kevin Droski are running a project on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron, Ontario, Canada, which is pretty special and actually without equal in all of North America. What began as a dream has become a reality by now, and has already yielded foals that put Ravenseyrie among those who exemplify the progress made in the breeding of Sorraia Mustangs, with several youngsters registered in the Permanent division.

Altamiro, shortly after his arrival on Manitoulin Island

It all started in 2006, when they imported a grullo Sorraia stallion from the Springe game park in Germany, to cross on the two grulla SMR mares they had previously acquired. The Sorraia stallion, called Altamiro, was a long yearling when he came over, and he started to assume the role as harem sire and to breed the mares at the tender age of two - the earliest known or documented of a Sorraia stallion. This was no doubt made possible by the absence of an older stallion, and because the mares were still adolescents when he first met them, and the group of youngsters matured together and formed their relationships without any outside pressures.

By the time the first mating season had come around, the band had been increased by a grulla Kiger mustang mare. Later, when the opportunity came to acquire a Sorraia Mustang mare that is half Sorraia (by Sovina and out of a SMS-registered Sulphur Springs mare), Lynne and Kevin jumped at it, so that Altamiro's band got another new addition.

„Ciente“, a Kiger mare in Altamiro‘s harem (Photo © Leslie Town)

On Ravenseyrie, the horses have the run of 360 acres of nicely varied land - pasture, woods, rocks, and the shore of Lake Huron. It's a horse's paradise, and allows them to feed off of different kinds of plants, seek shelter either among rocks and banks or among the trees, exercise well, roaming the preserve. It offers space enough to go out of each other's way if necessary, and allows for the behavior of the horses to develop, socially and otherwise.

Up until Altamiro turned four years old (and had his second foal crop arriving), the Sorraia mustangs ran together with the domestic horses and mules. It was after the first foal of his second crop was born when Altamiro laid down new rules by forcing the domestic horses and mules to separate from the family band - which was a significant behavior to observe, as it does shed light on how mustangs of a certain strain and ancestry managed to retain their type and genetic make-up.

Soon after that, Altamiro expelled his sons from his harem. The yearling colts joined the bachelor band of the domestic group. A month later, a yearling filly left the family band by her own choice and hooked up with this band as well. Altamiro rarely allows any mingling of the two groups.

The very first foal by Altamiro, and out of one of the SMR mares, was Animado, a grullo colt of good Sorraia type. His birth provided a rare glimpse at social behavior among wild horses, and in a natural social setting. Altamiro the first-time father took an interest in the new-born foal that almost exceeded that of the first-time mother, licking it, nudging it to get up, pushing it even toward the mother if he thought it necessary.

This was just the first one in a long row of interesting observations regarding the behavior of the horses, and in particular, of Altamiro's behavior. Not only will he see to it that his mares are grouped together, he will also make them pay attention to their foals if he feels they got a little sloppy. At one time, when the band had wandered off and had left a foal behind, sleeping in the tall grass, he didn't just go to pick up the foal and drive it back to the band – instead, he showed some quite remarkable behavior: He chased the foal's mother back to the foal, so she fetched it, then drove both back to the group, teaching the mare a lesson!

Altamiro reminding Ciente of her duties as a mom...

"Silvestre (the foal) had gone down for a completely prone nap and during his resting, the rest of the family band moved off a ways to a different grazing spot," related Lynne. "Altamiro took note of the abandoned foal and went over to rouse momma Ciente into action. When she did not respond as quick as he thought she ought to, he became more aggressive and drove her over at a rapid pace to where Silvestre was, then he snaked them both back towards the direction where the rest of the herd had gone to."

Lynne captured this lesson in a photo sequence which can be viewed on her blog:


There are some other horses on the place and some older mules, and it is significant how Altamiro keeps his harem apart from the rest of the equines on the property. Although the mules are easily twice his weight, he manages to fight them off.

One of the "jewels" of the Ravenseyrie herd is Encantara, a filly out of one of the SMR mares that has uncommon stripes along her neck and withers. Like the other offspring, she is also of very good Sorraia type. Another one is Segura, out of the Sorraia x Sulphur Springs mare, so she is actually 3/4 Sorraia.

The horses have access to the lake shore

Altamiro is a rather dark grullo, but some of his offspring are almost black. They nevertheless would be an asset to many a breeder's herd, as they are all of good Iberian type, resp. Sorraia type.

The Ravenseyrie horses live much like wild horses, but they are fed in the wintertime. They are also exposed to human contact regularly. Lynne is socializing with them pretty much on a daily basis, immersing herself in the herd, enjoying being accepted as one of them, and observing how they feel, how they function, how they get along, when they go where, when they eat what, etc.

Very few breeders are as committed to the preservation of the Sorraia Mustang as Lynne Gerard and Kevin Droski are, and so far, no other have set up a preserve like Ravenseyrie.

Top: Encantara as a newborn foal, already showing her unique neck and shoulder

stripes, and (above) as a yearling. She developed into a superb Iberian type resp. Sorraia type. In all the Ravenseyrie foals the Sorraia genes are obvious, but in Encantara they came out in a special package

If you want to learn more about this unique project, go to