April 12, 2013

K-Kiger Mustang

Mustangs, the painted beauties of the open plains and the wild west.  The term mustang, which is applied to all the wild horses in North America, comes from the Spanish word "mesteo" which means "unclaimed sheep".  Technically wild mustangs are actually feral horses as they are previously domesticated horses that have gone wild as apposed to true wild horses like a Pzewalski's horse.
Of all mustangs there is the coveted Kiger Mustangs.  The name evokes visions of long flowing black manes and tails, a Spanish styled equine profile and warm dun colors accented by zebra striped legs.  Kiger Mustangs are a substrain of the American Mustang.  These beautiful creatures are found in the South Eastern area of Oregon.  In 1977 during a routine round-up the wranglers noticed a distinctive conformation and coloration to the herds.  It was decided to isolate these herds at Kiger and Riddle Mountains as well as the Steens Mountain area for protection of this unique wild bloodline.
South Iberian Sorraia horse (http://www.sorraia.org/index.html)
Kiger mustangs have Spanish/Iberian origins.  The breeds that they most represent came from Spain and Portugal predominantly.  Today, the South Iberian Sorraia horse, is a most similar looking breed of wild horse to the Kiger mustang.  Perhaps the Sorraia influenced many Iberian and Spanish breeds centuries ago and thus when left to their own devices in the "New World" as mustangs the Kiger mustang evolved yielding a phenotype very similar to this ancient wild horse from which they share ancestry.  That's just a thought on my part based on selective breeding and then when animals are allowed to revert to their own selection they often revert to an older phenotype.

The modern horse breeds that share the common traits and possible heritage include the Lusitano, Andalusian and the less familiar Criollo horse.  There are indeed other breeds that contributed to the gene pool of modern day Kiger mustangs but many I'm not even vaguely familiar with them.  Centuries ago, when the path was laid for the Spanish Mustang development, these breeds may have been less refined than the ones we are familiar with in today's breeding.
 Be that as it may, Kiger mustangs share a similar conformation with modern day Spanish horses.  Many have the dun factor which can express itself in the familiar buckskin coloration but also ranges from a cream white to buckskin to red and to a silvery-gray.  The dun factor yields the following traits: darker dorsal stripe down the horses back, and dark points (aka legs, mane and tail).  Specifically to the Kiger mustang are also zebra stripping on the legs, chest, rib and arm bars, ears outlined in black with the third top portion being a darker shade than their main coat color.  These mustangs can also have bi-colored manes, much like the Fjords I love so dearly, face masks (darkening of the face like in the Sorraia horse above) and cob webbing on the face.  Not all Kigers have all these traits.

Kigers like most mustangs are hardy, intelligent animals. Many do well in endurance and trail. They can also be found in many other disciplines from dressage to western pleasure. Ive only met a few kiger mustangs two were pure and one is mixed. They seem very personable horses and I don't think anyone could say they aren't gorgeous!  One and two were Colton and his buddy that I met at a rescue while horse shopping. The other is Dani's best friend Jodie who is a Kiger/Quarter horse cross.  I think buckskin type colors are pretty much my second favorite horse color. 

Hope you all learned a little about Kiger mustangs.  Bureau of Land Management does have regular adoptions and often you can find a Kiger in their adoptions in Oregon.  Dreamhorse is another place to search but also try searching for Kiger Mustang breeders, you will find a variety of breeders that continue these interesting lines.   The Kiger Mustang Registry is another place to start learning more about this unique mustang group.  Have fun!

1 comment:

Lauren said...

Every time I see/hear/read about Kigers, I think of that Spirit animated movie :) Informative post!