The House has passed the key vote on legislation that would make the mule the state’s historical work animal, and the Marsh Tacky the State Heritage Horse. Williamsburg County Democrat Ken Kennedy attached his mule proposal to one honoring the Marsh Tacky, the original horse bill. York County Republican Gary Simrill didn’t want the mule attached to his legislation. That led to a few weeks of contention over which animal most deserves a coveted place in the state’s history.
Kennedy insisted that he was not trying to interfere with the Marsh Tacky bill. He commented that the two animals were very different, that Festus on the old television program “Gunsmoke” rode a mule. Kennedy spoke from the floor of the House last week. The issue came to a head Tuesday when House members voted 75-34 to adopt Kennedy’s mule amendment.
(Kennedy and others on the mule MP3 12:45)
Kennedy and others on the mule
The Marsh Tacky is a small horse which is native to South Carolina, well adapted to swamps, which is descended from Spanish horses brought to the Carolina coast by Spanish explorers and settlers.
The mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. Most female mules and all male mules are infertile.
Simrill said the Marsh Tacky is an important part of the state’s history. Simrill said that Marsh Tackys were used by the colonists during the American Revolution, and even by the Swamp Fox, Francis Marion. Simrill said that school children in certain areas all over the state understand the historical significance of the Marsh Tacky and want it to be the state horse.
Before the bill’s passage, Kennedy, who is retiring from his years in the House in a few weeks, asked for support from his colleagues, as he stood near a photograph of a mule projected on the wall. He said all he wanted was to be able to ride into the sunset on his mule.