Oregon's Wild Kiger Herds
(Excerpted from BLM Literature--BLM.gov)
No other horse in America is quite like the Kiger Mustang found on Steens Mountain in southeastern Oregon. Most wild horses are of mixed influence and characteristics while the Kiger Mustangs possess many characteristics of the original Spanish Mustang. The word mustang was derived from the word mesteño, which meant " unclaimed sheep" in the Spanish language and later came to mean "wild" or "unclaimed" horse. Mustang came about as an English language slang term for mesteño.
The Spanish Mustang was a part of early American history, having roots in Native American history, and is the horse that helped settle the west. At one time it was thought to be extinct on the range. Since the Kiger Mustangs may well be one of the best remaining examples of the Spanish Mustang, their preservation is extremely important.
The Kiger Mustang exhibits physical color characteristics know as the "dun factor" which were also common to many of the horse the Spaniards reintroduced to North America in the 1600's. Color classifications of the dun factor are: dun, red dun, grulla (mouse gray), buckskin, and variations of these colors. Markings on animals with the dun factor include dorsal stripes; zebra stripes on the knees and hocks; chest, rib and arm bars; outlined ears; the top one-third of the ear on its backside darker that the body color; fawn coloring on the inside of the ears; bi-colored mane and tail; face masks and cob-webbing on the face. The less white these horses have, the stronger the dun factor. An individual horse having the dun factor may have many but not all of these markings.
Kiger Mustangs have the physical conformation of both the tarpan and oriental hotblood horses from which the original Spanish Mustangs came. They have small, round bones, small feet and very little feather on their legs and fetlocks. Their eyes are wide set and prominent. These animals also have distinctly hooked ear tips and fine muzzles. The Kiger Mustangs also look very much like the modern day Spanish Sorraias. They are indeed a unique breed of wild horse.
The BLM manages two special areas in southeastern Oregon for wild horse with Spanish Mustang characteristics. The two areas are located in the Burns District and are know as the Kiger and Riddle Mountain Herd Management Areas.
Seeing the beauty of the Kiger Mustangs in the wild with their classic coloration and markings will add much to your enjoyment of our western heritage. It is an experience you won't soon forget.
Would you like to see Kigers in the Wild?
Where Mustang trainer and Oregon Rancher, Tim O'Crowley and his wife Susan, provide a wonderful experience and close up look at Oregon ranching and Kiger Mustangs. We really cannot say enough good things about these folks and the trail experiences they provide. http://oregonguestranch.com
It has long been thought that modern, "manmade" horse breeds lack the hardiness that ancient horses once had. Old timers who had witnessed the beauty and strength of the primitive Mustang bemoaned their seeming disappearance. People felt that cross-breeding and genetic dilution had destroyed the exceptional horse of the early Spanish Explorers
Horse specialist mourned the loss of the genetics that built some of the worlds finest, old world horses.
However, Oregon cowboys told tales of horses that roamed in the highest regions of Oregon's Mountains. Horses that were so athletic and so smart that they could out maneuver and out distance even the best ranch horses. These horses had unusually long manes and tails, elegant head carriage and gorgeous primitive markers. These horses had the primitive dun coloration and the conformation of the ancient horses and they were here in Oregon. Luckily Oregon's Ron Harding and Bill Phillips of the BLM believed the fascinating stories of the old timers and were determined to find and gather Oregon's primitive and elusive horses.
Because of their dogged determination and the help of the public and other like-minded BLM employees, these horses were gathered from several remote herds and the best examples of Spanish type were brought to a new area and allowed to grow in number in protected herds. These horses were removed first to the Kiger Herd Management area and later another herd was started in Riddle Mountain. Collectively, they have come to be called Kigers and they are a mustang that has received worldwide attention and now inhabits countries in Europe, Canada and WHMR now cares for the first two Kigers that will travel to New Zealand to make their home. Like other Mustangs, Kigers have the strong social aptitude that comes with living wild and the athleticism that comes from living in harsh terrain, but the Kiger also has a compelling history and embodies the desirable phenotype of the ancient Spanish horse. We are truly fortunate to have these animals here in Oregon. In 1988 a breed association The Kiger Mesteno Association (www.kigermustangs.org) was started to protect the breed and thus the only breed ever started in Oregon is the Kiger Mustang! Like all of our 'stangs' we love our Kigers.
We are honored to have three new adoptees. All three came to us from the wild herds so are currently learning to accept human touch.
We get keep one (bottom) but two will be going to an amazing program in New Zealand. We are simply honored to be their caretakers.
Copyright 2011 Wild Horse Mountain Ranch-A Mustang Rescue and Center for Therapeutic Horsemanship.
All rights reserved. We are located in Sherwood, OR and open by appointment. Please contact via email. Info@wildhorsemountain.org