The Baca Legacy: A Southwestern Ranch Horse

Tom and I own eight horses at present five of these horses are Spanish Mustangs from Baca Chica Farms and the Baca Family of New Mexico or the Baca bloodline. Pictured above are Motita (white mare) and El Rosio (brown stallion).

Doreteo “Joty” Baca and his family have been one of the longest and most influential preservationists of the original Spanish Mustang that arrived with the earliest Spanish explorers up from Mexico along the Rio Grande River. After returning from the Korean War and witnessing the slaughter of whole herds of Mustangs—America’s first horse—Joty began to assemble his first herd. He was very particular about choosing horses from the mountains near Tijeres, New Mexico, from neighboring ranchers, and from Native American tribes in the region. He chose closed herds to ensure that the bloodline of the original Spanish horses was preserved. In 2005 the State of New Mexico publicly recognized Doroteo and his wife, Virginia, for their persistence and dedication, and great sacrifice for the preservation and recognition of the Colonial Spanish Horse.

Picasso, a Baca gelding.

In 2013, at the end of Joty’s life, the last of his herd was dispersed from Baca Chica Farm. Over his lifetime Joty had produced over 200 horses of exceptional quality and character. He knew these were the horses that his own ancestors from Spain had ridden to Inscription Rock at El Morro National Monument. He made a name for these horses from Baca Chica Farm and the Baca strain has been officially recognized and celebrated. The Livestock Breed Conservancy, renowned Spanish Mustang authority from Virginia Tech, Dr. Phillip Sponenberg, The Horse of the America’s Registry, and The Center for America’s First Horse have all celebrated Joty Baca and his work.

While working at Mill Swamp Indian Horses in Smithfield, Virginia, I arranged for Joty Baca’s last remaining (and many say favorite) stallion, El Rosio, to come to Virginia and it was love at first sight. Baca horses are known for their lean but strong stature, smooth gaits, and unyielding endurance, but it was their kind, inquisitive nature and sensitivity that drew my attention. In my work, I need horses that provide a mirror for the people working with them. It is this mirroring process that promotes healing and growth in youth having experienced trauma and the Bacas have that gift. Since helping to bring the first Baca to Smithfield, I have acquired a grey Baca mare (Motita) and a sorrel gelding (Picasso—pictured above) that had been previously dispersed from Baca Chica Farm. 

Sadly, El Rosio passed away in the fall of 2016, leaving behind his Motita and his colt, Estrella Rojo-Red Star (see below for more information about Red Star).

Kelly and El Rosio

Kelly and El Rosio

I've been also been able to acquire a beautiful Baca mare named Estrellita. Her mother, Cara Blanca was returned to the Baca breeding program run by Carol Fuller Powell in California. 

Estrellita (gray mare) and Cara Blanca (white mare)

There are a very limited selection of straight Baca horse bloodlines that are available for breeding. For now I'm doing my part in Virginia.

Estrella Rojo, (Red Star)

Estrella Rojo, (Red Star)

Estrella Rojo (Red Star): The Next Generation 

Estrella Rojo (Red Star) is the son of Snow on Her, a Sharon Sluss homebred, who is the daughter of Cayuse Gold out of Painted Chinook.  His father is El Rosio, a Joty Baca homebred, out of his foundation stock, by Ojos Negros and out of Speckles.  Their baby is indeed a prince among the Colonial Spanish Horses.

Back in 2013 with the passing of Joty Baca, Baca Chica Farms found themselves in the position of having to rehome much of their herd.  At the time, Steve Edwards graciously offered to take their 15-year old untrained stallion El Rosio.  El Rosio was a son of the foundation sire, O’jos Negros, at Baca Chica Farms and was responsible, in great part for the Baca strain of Colonial Spanish Horses.  In the fall of 2013 El Rosio came to live at Mill Swamp Indian Horses.  At about the same time Steve, also acquired Snow On Her, a Sharon Sluss homebred, herself born of royalty from Cayuse Gold and out of the Painted Chinook line. In the fall of 2015, Steve Edwards generously passed on the ownership of El Rosio to me.  It was my dream to begin a breeding program, preserving the work Joty Baca had begun many years ago.  And Steve, who has always promoted breeding programs of the Colonial Spanish Horse helped make that dream come true.

Emily Heard introducing Red Star to Zeus

Emily Heard introducing Red Star to Zeus

Before coming to live with me at, Steve bred El Rosio to his beautiful mare Snow On Her.   It is important to note that by this time El Rosio had not fathered a baby in over 7 years. On June 30, 2016 – Snow on Her gave birth to a stud colt, a beautiful red roan baby that was the perfect combination of both mother and father. In late summer of 2016, heartbreak struck as we realized that El Rosio was dying of cancer.  Again Steve’s heart, generosity, and vision prompted him to offer the red roan colt to me in order to keep the Baca breeding program alive.  This is a gift that cannot be measured with money but only with heart and a real desire to see the Baca line of Colonial Spanish horses continue.