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One of the most endangered breeds in the world, today’s SANTA CRUZ ISLAND HORSE may be one of

the last of its kind, unless conservation and breeding programs to restore their numbers are successful.


Thanks to Christina Nooner, of the Sunshine Sanctuary, and the interest taken by breed steward

El Campeon Farms, the SANTA CRUZ ISLAND HORSE population is slowly growing in numbers. 

The Livestock Conservancy estimates the world population of this unique and gentle breed to have

grown from the original 15 in 1998, to roughly 60 today. 

El Campeon Farms 2015-2016 breeding program has resulted in the successful foaling of 5 fillies

and 2 colts to our 6 breeding mares and 3 stallions.


The heritage of these beautiful and gentle animals dates back to the Iberian horses brought to North
America by Conquistadors and early California’s Missionary Padres in the 18th and 19th Centuries. 


Unlike their more hot-tempered cousins, these Colonial Spanish horses were selected for use in cattle

ranching and a multitude of uses on family farms where smaller stature and gentler disposition were useful.


We are very fortunate that a small herd was sent to Santa Cruz Island, where Mexico banished their convicts,

because they lived relatively undisturbed in a semi-feral environment for nearly two centuries and, through natural selection, remained a hardy breed and genetically distinct from the horses that remained on the mainland.


Veterinarians and equine geneticists have done extensive study to document and help save this breed.

We invite you to read their publications within our website.


It’s now very apparent that the Californio Vaquero style of riding was perfectly suited for these horses and we hope you will support us in trying to convince our Governor to designate the SANTA CRUZ HORSE as a native Californian.


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