Monday, July 20, 2015

Kiger Mustangs by Paty Jager

Wild horses I saw
On a recent trip to the Steens Mountain my husband and I had the pleasure of seeing and photographing a herd of wild horses at a drinking hole. I’m not sure if any of them were Kiger Mustangs. We didn’t get close enough to see their distinctive markings, but there were some dun colors in the mix.  The Steens Mountains are one of the few places the Kiger Mustang is still in the wild. It is also the place where the breed was discovered in 1977.

The Bureau of Land Management began rounding up wild horses in Harney County in 1971, but it wasn’t until 1977 when they did a round up at Beattys Butte that they discovered a herd of horses with similar color and markings. DNA testing was done and they discovered the mustangs bore a close relationship to the Spanish horses brought to America in the 16oos. They separated these horses from the other wild horses, split them into two groups and placed them in separate areas of the Steens Mountains.

Today they are flourishing and are some of the most prized horses when the BLM does a roundup and auction.

Kiger Coloring:
Most would say a Kiger had a “dun”colored coat. In truth they come in a variety of colors— grulla(mouse gray), red,  and buckskin with a variation of these colors.
Photo from Wikipedia-Mesteno Kiger Stallion
Other characteristics are: dorsal stripes, zebra stripes on their lower legs, chest, rib, and arm bars, outlined ears, the top one0third of the ear on the backside is darker than 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 they have on their bodies the stronger the dun coloring.  A horse may have many of these traits but not all of them.

Kiger Physique:
They have both the tarpan and oriental hotblood horses that were in the original Spanish Mustangs.
Their bones are small and round, with small feet and hardly any feather on their legs and fetlocks. They have wide set prominent eyes, distinctly hooked ear tips, and fine muzzles.
They stand 13.2 to 15.2 hands (54 to 62 inches) high. They were the perfect horse for the early American settlers living and working in the west because the Kiger is agile and intelligent with stamina and sure-footedness. They are compact, well-muscled with deep chests, and short backs.

Kiger Temperment:
While being bold they are also gentle and calm.

The Spanish mustang played a large part in helping the American west grow as well as a means of travel for the Native American. The Kiger mustang is the closest remaining horse to the Spanish mustang. That is why The BLM and breeders of Kigers have made keeping the breed from extinction their goal.
Another photo of the wild horses.

Breeders sites if you’d like to see more photos of the horses:

Paty’s Bio:
Award-winning author Paty Jager and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. On her road to publication she wrote freelance articles for two local newspapers and enjoyed her job with the County Extension service as a 4-H Program Assistant. Raising hay and cattle, riding horses, and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her penchant for research takes her on side trips that eventually turn into yet another story.

You can learn more about Paty at
her website;  
Newsletter: Paty’s Prattle:
twitter  @patyjag.

1 comment:

Shanna Hatfield said...

Love, love, love the Kiger mustangs, Paty! Thanks for sharing a post about them!