I spent a few days at Frenchglen Oregon this last week and paid a visit to the Kiger Mountain BLM Herd Management area to get a look at the famous Kiger Mustangs that reside there. These horses are unique in that they are true Mustangs descended from the Spanish Barb horses brought to North America in the 17th century. I don’t use the word Mustang in relation to the wild or feral horses I usually take photos of because they are not truly Mustangs but rather a mix of domestic stock that one way or another has over the years become wild and proliferated all over the West.
The Kiger herd was discovered in roundups in the 1970s, the horses have distinct characteristics that set them apart from other horse types. They were genetically tested and their DNA proved that they were Mustangs; a bloodline that was thought to have disappeared from America’s wild herds. These horses are carefully managed and protected to preserve our heritage. They are kept separate from other feral horses to keep the bloodlines pure. They are fenced in two very large management areas and are still truly wild.
I had to use a lot of patience to get close to them. The Stallion was especially protective and he charged out aggressively when he saw me to make sure that I was not a threat to his band. Very slowly and in a roundabout way I worked my way up to them. Once I was among them they relaxed like most of the feral horses I photograph and did not pay much attention to me other than some curious looks with pricked up ears which makes for good pictures.
I had heard these horses were different, very beautiful and they are! They are mostly a dun color though other colors are allowed, there was a grulla mare in the band I found, (mouse gray) and I saw in this little herd, most of the identifying characteristics that set them apart. They have primitive markings like a dorsal stripe down the back, some zebra striping on the legs, some have two colors in their manes and black points. They are fine boned and refined looking. They have nice heads and are short backed, overall good confirmation with an athletic look. Looking at the photos I think you will readily see the difference in the Kigers from other feral horses. The Kiger horses were used as inspiration for the animated film that DreamWorks created, “Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron, made in 2002. The stallion in the band I observed looked very much like the animated character, Spirit.
These horses were very alert especially the Stallion. While watching them I saw them notice some antelope in the far distance and they were very interested in their movements. After I had spent some time with them, the stallion charged up the hill after something he had seen ready to do battle. I never saw what he saw, maybe a coyote, but the herd followed him and I let them go at that point and hiked back to my car.
26 thoughts on “Kiger Mustangs”
Beautiful mustangs, and great photos capturing them:)
Thank you Inger. 🙂
stunning creatures & photos!
Thank you for visiting and commenting Cindy! 🙂
Can totally relate to the hard work getting those shots – but very rewarding as they are great!
Yes I felt the stakes were pretty high and exercised caution in my approach. Thanks a lot. 🙂
Thanks Barbara. 🙂
Great shots. They seem to be excited to have their first photo shoot 🙂
They were excited but I think they get photographed quite a bit. Thanks for stopping in and commenting. 🙂
What beautiful horses indeed. Lovely pictures, and lucky you for finding them!
Thank you. Yes I felt very fortunate to be among them. 🙂
I had heard of the Kiger mustangs but didn’t know much about them. Just finished reading a quick summary on Wikipedia and was intrigued to find out that they are the main remaining descendants of the original 14th century Spanish horses but weren’t discovered in the West until 1977. I suspected that they were somewhat insular from the common coat coloring and markings, but had no idea they went back that far! Nice photos–thanks for posting!
Thanks Alli. They are interesting and beautiful. It is incredible that they were able to stay isolated for so long and preserve the bloodline. Glad you like the photos. 🙂
Wow, those are some fantastic shots! The horses are so beautiful and majestic- almost as if they wanted you to photograph them. 🙂 Well done.
Thanks so much ponymad! They really are some of the prettiest horses I have ever seen. Very photogenic. 🙂
They really are gorgeous, great color and conformation. Glad you were safe in their presence and not trampled over.
Ha ha, not much chance of being trampled but certainly a good chance of missing the opportunity to get good close photos. Thanks for stopping in and commenting. 🙂
The Kiger Mustangs are very beautiful, and your portrait of them are exquisite .
Thank you Maria, they really are special horses and it is hard to take a bad photo of them. 🙂
I find it very interesting that they are all pretty much the same color. Truly wild – back to thier roots. Looking at them seethes such primal expression, truly delightful.
Thanks so much. Yes they were wonderful to watch and the uniformity of color is something that you don’t see in the feral horse bands.
You are welcome, it actually gave me an idea for a post on my blog as well.
Absolutely stunning series and what a beautiful subject! Perfect as usual!
Thanks for visiting and leaving such a kind comment Cynthia. Happy you liked the Kiger’s. 🙂
That’s beutiful site to come up on