This article is in memory of D.P. Lowther, 89, who spent his life helping to save the Marsh Tacky horse, unique to South Carolina.
The paths of Charleston Animal Society and the founder of the Marsh Tacky Association, D.P. Lowther, first crossed in 2019.
It was shortly after the Animal Society learned that four of six horses that had been brought in for rescue, were the distinctive Marsh Tacky breed. At the age of 86, Lowther wasted no time driving 150-miles roundtrip from Ridgeland, SC to North Charleston to help save the four horses.
“The Marsh Tacky is a unique breed of Colonial Spanish Horse found only in South Carolina and is one of the most endangered horse breeds in the world,” according to the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association.
They once roamed freely along the coast, but as development overtook our marshes, the Marsh Tacky population plummeted. Today, there are just over 400 Marsh Tackies left. Thankfully, Lowther founded the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association to help to keep the lineage alive. The memorial below was published by the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association.
REMEMBERING A LEGEND
The Marsh Tacky breed lost its greatest advocate on September 20, 2022. David Pratt “D.P.” Lowther, 89 of Ridgeland, S.C., spent a lifetime helping this beloved breed of horse not only survive, but also be recognized and appreciated for its many wonderful qualities.
“The toughest horse that ever lived.” That’s how Lowther described the Marsh Tacky. It’s no wonder that he fell in love with the breed as a young boy when his father, a cow farmer and mule trader, acquired a handful.
He hunted with them, competed on them, rode them daily while herding cows and quickly came to understand their special qualities. He liked how they were thinking horses that assessed unusual situations before reacting. He admired their extra push and willpower that other horses didn’t seem to have. In his own words: “You could ride some of these horses all day long in the bushes and briars and swamps and they would never break a sweat.”
When Lowther heard that feral Marsh Tackies were being removed from South Carolina’s coastal islands, he didn’t have a long range plan but knew that he had to go get them. He loved these little horses and didn’t want to see them lost or neglected. This collection eventually grew to well over 100 horses, giving him the unsolicited claim to fame as owner of the largest herd of Marsh Tacky horses in the United States. What started as a hobby, became a lifestyle and forever linked the name “D.P. Lowther” with “Marsh Tacky.”
Because of Lowther and other families who also appreciated the Marsh Tacky breed, the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association (CMTA) was formed in 2007 with a mission to support and promote the breed.
In 2010, after many years of advocating for the breed and its historical value to South Carolina, the CMTA (and Lowther) efforts appeared to make a difference. A bill was signed into law by then-Gov. Mark Sanford officially recognizing the Marsh Tacky as the State Heritage Horse of South Carolina.
Lowther simply loved his Marsh Tackies. He enjoyed starting his day having breakfast with Mrs. Dan, his wife, where just outside the window he could see his horses grazing peacefully in the pastures. He welcomed visitors to his farm any time, and he was very generous to many people who were interested in owning a Marsh Tacky. He also helped many new owners start their own breeding program.
Today, the breed has grown to well over 400 registered horses. There are Marsh Tackies living as far north as New York and as far west as Mississippi. We are forever grateful to Lowther, whose love for a unique and special horse has been and will be passed on for many generations to come. In Lowther’s own words: “Everybody ought to be riding a Marsh Tacky.”