Friday, May 3, 2013

The Threat to the Nakotas

Bet you never heard of the Nakota. A misnomer for North Dakota?  No, it's a breed of horse.  Really, I'm not kidding.  They are the descendants of horses bred by the Sioux Indians in the 1800's and were used extensively by the turn of the century ranchers in the badlands. 

You can read about the horses here.  Many of them are blue roan and angular.   They have an ambling gait called the "Indian shuffle,."  Who knew?

There is a herd of Nakotas near Linton, North Dakota and they don't have enough hay to get them through the summer.  The non-profit Nakota Horse Conservancy typically funds the horses but the economy has taken it's toll.  This year there are much fewer donations and poor weather conditions that have created a bad situation for these lovely creatures.  Right now the Conservancy has a little over a week's worth of hay left.  The herd may have to be dispersed and then there are no guarantees that the herd could be put together again which would threaten the gene pool and might seriously jeopardize the preservation of this historic breed.

Brothers Leo and Frank Kuntz, Frank's wife Shelly, and a small group of volunteers have spent the last 30 years trying to save and preserve these native horses.  They have cared for the needs of many of the horses, but they are also careful custodians of the lineage which combines the genetics of the horses surrendered by Sitting Bull at Fort Buford in 1881 and range stock from the early 20th century.  The Conservancy owns 118 horses, representing the rarest of these old bloodlines.  In their own private herds, Frank and Leo each own approximately 175 additional horses.  All three herds are in trouble.

You can learn more about the Nokota horse, their history and the current plight of these herds at or click here.

My neighbor has a Nakota.  I had never heard of the breed until she told me about her own.  If we could all send them $25 it might make a difference.  It would be terrible to see these herds dispersed.  Let's try to help!

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