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Nokota Wild Horses

Equus ferus caballus


The Nokota horse is a feral and semi-feral horse breed located in the badlands of southwestern North Dakota in the United States. The breed developed in the 19th century from foundation bloodstock consisting of ranch-bred horses produced from the horses of local Native Americans mixed with Spanish horses, Thoroughbreds, harness horses and related breeds. The Nokota was almost wiped out during the early 20th century when ranchers, in cooperation with state and federal agencies, worked together to reduce competition for livestock grazing. However, when Theodore Roosevelt National Park was created in the 1940s, a few bands were inadvertently trapped inside, and thus were preserved. In 1986, the Park sold off a large number of horses, including herd stallions, and released several stallions with outside bloodlines into the herds. At this point, brothers Leo and Frank Kuntz began purchasing the horses with the aim of preserving the breed, and in 1999 started the Nokota Horse Conservancy, later beginning a breed registry through the same organization. Later, a second, short-lived, registry was begun by another organization in Minnesota. In 2009, the North Dakota Badlands Horse Registry was created, which registers the slightly different type of horses which have been removed from the park in recent years. Today, the park conducts regular thinning of the herd to keep numbers between 70 and 110, and the excess horses are sold off. The Nokota horse has an angular frame, is commonly blue roan in color, and often exhibits an ambling gait called the "Indian shuffle". The breed is generally separated into two sections, the traditional and the ranch type, which differ slightly in conformation and height. They are used in many events, including endurance riding, western riding and English disciplines.


Badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park


Updated Breed information on May 10, 2012

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33 Comments (1–25)

Harsha Singh
Harsha Singh 10 years ago

Love your pictures.

Nayeli 10 years ago

Pretty nice!

Elkman 11 years ago

Amazing shot. Congratulations!

DonnaPomeroy 11 years ago

Thanks, Maria.

Maria dB
Maria dB 11 years ago

congratulations, Donna!

williefromwi 11 years ago

When time, and money permit me to travel there, I will have to make it a destination. I would love to be able to both watch and capture some of these beauties via camera. Thanks for the information

DonnaPomeroy 11 years ago

Thank you Willie. This herd of wild horses qualifies as one of the most noble animals I have ever seen. We are so lucky to have places like Theodore Roosevelt National Park, where they are protected. This park is an effort to reach, but well worth it!

williefromwi 11 years ago

Congrats, Donna on both your captures of these magnificent animals, and your spotting of the day award. Perhaps someday, I will be blessed to see wild horses and make some captures of my own. Until then, I am blessed to be able to see them through your spotting

DonnaPomeroy 11 years ago

Thank you so much, everyone!

Gerardo Aizpuru
Gerardo Aizpuru 11 years ago

Congratulations what a great site Donna :)

ceherzog 11 years ago

Congrats Donna...I loved this shot the moment I saw it!

CarolSnowMilne 11 years ago

Great series and great detailed information about this wonderful wild horses. Congratulations!

BrandonBlount 11 years ago

Congratulations on SOTD! Amazing photos and wonderful information! :-D

VivBraznell 11 years ago

Well done Donna! Beautiful image & very interesting information. So important not to lose these breeds.

Arun 11 years ago

Congrts ..

Atul 11 years ago

congrats !

Sachin Zaveri
Sachin Zaveri 11 years ago

Congratulations Donna!

LeahFerneReed 11 years ago

That stally is gorgeous...I love bay roans XD

Yasser 11 years ago

Congratulations Donna! This beautiful photo has been selected as Spotting of the Day!



misako 11 years ago


DonnaPomeroy 11 years ago

Thank you FallynLeighSchwartz for the information. It's great to know more about the history of these beautiful horses.

Are these Nokotas or Mustangs?

DonnaPomeroy 11 years ago

Thanks, Karen. I hadn't noticed the oversight. I've taken care of it.

KarenL 11 years ago

One of mine too Donna!
Where you know the common name of the species, please could you look up & add the scientific name - it is very easy to do on a Google search. That takes the spotting out of the "unknown" list. We would also appreciate it if you could add a reference link & complete some info in the details field for your spottings.

DonnaPomeroy 11 years ago

Thank you Lisa. This shot is one of my favorites, too.

Spotted by

Medora, North Dakota, United States

Spotted on Jun 23, 2008
Submitted on Jan 29, 2012

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