First it was the boiled peanut. Now, state Rep. Gary Simrill is closing in on the Marsh Tacky.
Simrill, R-Rock Hill, filed a bill this week to designate the Marsh Tacky as the official state horse of South Carolina. It's a way to honor an animal that Simrill calls "a living piece of history."
Turns out Simrill admires the Marsh Tacky almost as much as the boiled peanut. Two years ago, the veteran lawmaker convinced his colleagues to name boiled peanuts as the official state snack.
Now Simrill is at it again, this time spotlighting a critically endangered Colonial Spanish horse breed that helped South Carolina soldiers fight in two wars.
"Obviously, this is not something that's make or break for South Carolina," Simrill said. "But for those who want to preserve the history of this breed, it's extremely important. I'm honored to do it."
A rich history
Simrill took up the cause after getting an e-mail from neighbor Jackie Hood McFadden, a member of the state's Marsh Tacky Association and a librarian at Winthrop University.
The association wants to protect the breed and educate others about its history.
"I know other horses have been important to South Carolina, but these were the first," McFadden said. "They've been here for 500 years."
During the American Revolution, Marsh Tackies were essential to Gen. Francis Marion, the famed "Swamp Fox" whose troops had the advantage of riding small, agile horses ideal for the Lowcountry's swampy terrain, the bill explains.
The name "Tacky" is derived from the English word for "cheap" or "common." For most of their history, Marsh Tackies were the most common horses in the swampy, marshy Lowcountry regions. Some call them the all-terrain vehicles of their day.-- Carolina Marsh Tacky Association
Why Marsh Tacky?