Nokota, Horse of the Badlands
...and on the eighth day God created the horse in perfect image, to romp, graze, gallop, play and make manure wherever it darn well pleases, in divine grace.
Never heard of this one, folks, the Nokota Horse.
It is a wild or feral horse that lives out in the south west area of North Dakota, in the Badlands of the USA. (1)
Spanish horses that escaped captivity, along with Native American horses, mixed together during the early 19th century to form the foundation stock of the Nokota.
The HT Ranch, near Medora, North Dakota, bought 60 mares in 1884, from a herd of horses that had belonged to some Native Americans. (2)
The herd had actually belonged to Sitting Bull, the leader of the Lakota Sioux, and had been taken from them by legal authority by the US government. (3)
The HT Ranch owned a racing stallion named Lexington, and the ranch owners bred these 60 mares to this stallion.
A lot of these horses simply ran wild, living on grass.
In the early 20th century, ranchers joined with state and federal agencies to cull and destroy the wild horses, because they felt they were eating up all the grass they wanted use for their cattle.
The Teddy Roosevelt National Park was created during the 1940's and some small herds of Nokota were trapped within the boundaries, thus preserving them from killing or slaughter.
In 1986, Frank and Leo Kuntz purchased some of these horses, in an effort to preserve the original breed. (4)
They founded the Nokota Horse Conservancy in 1999, and started a breed registry.
The Badlands Horse Registry was created in 2009, and this organization catalogs the breed variations or different types of Nokota Horse which have been removed from the T. Roosevelt National Park.
Now the Park keeps approximately 70 to 110 horses at any given time, with excess numbers being sold off.
Park management had brought in some outside stallions, and removed most of the dominant Nokota stallions, in an effort to improve the breed.
Two feral Mustangs, a crossbred Shire, a Quarter Horse and an Arabian were all let loose, with Park management thinking that sales would improve if the horse’s looks also improved. (5)
The Nokota Horse is very angular in appearance, with noticeable withers, a goosey croup and a low tailset.
The neck ties low onto the shoulder.
There are two types of Nokota, the National Park Traditional and the National Park Ranch. (6)
The National Park Traditional Horse is small and closer to resembling the original Spanish Colonial Horse. They stand around 14HH to 14.3HH.
The National Park Ranch Horse is similar in appearance to a foundation Quarter Horse, coming in at 14.2HH to 17HH.
The Nokota exhibits an “ambling gait,” or “Indian gait,” a 4-beat intermediate speed that is faster than a walk, but slower than a canter.
Icelandic Ponies also exhibit ambling gaits, and trail riders are especially fond of this.
In 1993, the Nokota Horse was named Honorary State Equine for North Dakota.
Breyer Animal Creations made a model Nokota in 2007, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Nokota Horse Conservancy.
Trouble has followed the breed, due to fighting of various agencies all vying for the honor of being the first to establish pure bloodlines, names and geneology.
As stated, the Nokota Horse Registry, founded by the Nokota Horse Conservancy was started by the Kuntz Brothers in 1999.
The Nokota Horse Association was formed later on, and fought with the Registry until a US court ordered the Association to cease registering horses until the matter could be resolved. This organization faded away soon afterwards.
The third organization is the Nokota Badlands Horse Registry, and as stated, it deals with horses that have been removed from the Park and are not accepted by the Nokota Horse Registry.
These animals are different in appearance (phenotype) and genotype, due to outside influence by stallions being introduced into the herds.
As of 2006, the Kuntz brothers owned some 500 Nakota Horses.
The Nokota comes in a rare blue roan color, but also comes in black, gray and pinto. Less common colors are red roan, bay and chestnut.
They claim to own original-stock bloodlines that go back to Chief Sitting Bull's herd, but the other agencies dispute this.
Who knew they were out there all this time? Some Spaniard’s ghost or the remnant of a Native American rider?
From the Lakota came the Nokota, out in the Dakotas.
Closing for now with the immortal words of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, “Happy Trails to You.”