Friend A Choctaw Indian Pony
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In 2012 and 2013, Windrider Farm Choctaw Horse Conservation program donated three Choctaw broodmares (Goblin, Angel, and Pearl) and their respective foals (Misty, Chief, and Feh) to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary (BHWHS) in Hot Springs, South Dakota. The BHWHS is a premier venue for these mares and foals to continue and expand the Choctaw horse conservation effort. In August 2012, two of these exquisite mares and foals were greeted in South Dakota by their new herd sire, Lakna (Sky Horse), who was donated by Neda DeMayo from Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary in Lompoc, California. His sire is the renowned Choctaw stud, Beechkeld Icktinicky, owned by Dr. D. Phillip Sponenberg. The BHWHS is proud to welcome these rare horses into our Spanish Mustang Spirit Preservation program! With this acquisition, the BHWHS has become a steward of one of the premier conservation herds in the country due to the unique genetics encompassed in this group. Goblin is the featured example of the Choctaw horse listed on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy website due to her importance to the effort for color, type, and bloodlines. We have already carried these genetics another generation into the future when Lakna sired two fillies out of Goblin and Angel in 2013. The Choctaw, a rare strain of the Spanish horse (often referred to as a Choctaw pony), remains critically endangered with less than 300 worldwide.
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Goblin is the featured example of the Choctaw horse listed on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy website due to her importance of rare color, type, and bloodlines. Many important sires including Chief of Choctaws, Rooster, Chief Kiamichi, and Choctaw Chief give her an impressive pedigree.
Lakna was sired by the renowned Choctaw stud, Beechkeld Icktinicky owned by Dr. D. Phillip Sponenberg. Lakna is the kind of Choctaw stallion you can imagine a warrior riding into battle. While he is under 14 hands, he has great presence that makes up for his smaller stature, a size coveted by Native Americans that needed a horse of great endurance and spirit to carry them through dangerous buffalo hunts and inevitable raids with warring enemies.
Born in 2012 out of Goblin’s Prescription and sired by Windrider’s Runner, Misty is the biggest hambone of all of the Choctaws here at the sanctuary. She has a dominant personality like her mom, Goblin, but seeks connections with people. She loves to pose for the camera, always displaying some trick to leave you with a smile a mile wide. She loves scratches from humans and makes the funniest gestures when you hit the right spots.
Angel was foaled in the mountains of southeast Oklahoma in 1996, sired by Choctaw Ricochet. Angel goes back to the Brame family Choctaws on both sides, and also has wild Johns Valley stock in her pedigree from the Crisp family. Both the Brame and Crisp families were important Choctaw Native American families that bred Choctaw ponies, with the Brame family breeding horses before Oklahoma statehood. Angel is shy and standoffish, probably a result of her once wild heritage in the mountains.
Pearl is a loving, smart, strong-willed mare that was sired by Bandit’s Ultimate Progression, out of Goblin’s Prescription. Pearl was briefly separated from her mom when she delivered a premature foal (Feh) right before all of the Choctaws were being shipped here to the sanctuary. When the entire family was reunited in 2013, Pearl got the sparkle back in her eye, including her ravenous appetite for food, an appetite gene that has apparently multiplied in her daughter, Feh.
Born in 2012 out of Angel Forever and sired by Windrider’s Runner, Chief grew up with Misty learning how to play hard from his half-sister. The two are still inseparable and are constantly at full tilt in the pasture kicking up dust and enjoying a life of freedom. Almost as tall as his mother at six months of age, he met our stud Lakna for the first time without one ounce of apprehension.
Feh was a surprise birth, born in 2012 out of Progression’s Pearl sired by Windrider’s Runner, hence her fitting Choctaw name. Like her many family members here at the sanctuary she is full of life, play, kindness, and intelligence. She flies like Pegasus when a camera is pointed in her direction, and she’ll befriend you for life if you have a handful of sweet feed. She is just like her mom, a real gem, and a perfect ambassador for the Choctaw horse breed.
These 3 sisters were born in 2015. They are the daughters of Lakna and our 3 Choctaw mares - Pearl, Angel, and Goblin. Please specify which of the sisters you would like to sponsor.
Choctaw Indian Pony Preservation Project: An Endangered Treasure
Excerpts from an article written for Women& Horses March/April 2006 By John Fusco
The Choctaw Indian Pony is a rare strain of colonial Spanish Mustang brought to the New World in 1540, by Hernando De Soto looking for the gold in the “Seven Cities of Cibolo”. Native Americans , never having seen a horse , referred to the mustangs as “Spirit Dogs” and the spirit dogs became a major part of the tribes ‘culture and spirituality’. The Spanish had a chain of missions across the Deep South and they introduced horses, cattle, goats, sheep and plantation based agriculture to this region. This diminutive Spanish pony became an integral part of the lives of Native American tribes Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole, and Cherokee of the Southeastern United States when they were left behind by the explorers on their 5400 mile journey in quest of riches.
Gentle by nature the Spanish ponies quickly became important family members to the eastern Native Americans who practiced plantation-based agriculture and advanced systems of government. Great companion animals, the ponies were known as “Squaw Ponies” for the women and children. The ponies provided transportation for the squaws to bring back to their villages the wild game from the men’s hunting expeditions. The high quality of the livestock developed by the Choctaw especially the horses, allowed for the development of extremely western trade route all the way into the Texas and Oklahoma area.
The colorful ponies also played a part in the tragic American history known as “The Trail of Tears.” The beloved little horses were forced to carry their Native American families to their forced exile from their southeastern homes to the Oklahoma Territory following the passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Later these ponies were ordered to be destroyed by the US Government. “The motivation was simple remove the Indian from his horse and they’d be easier to force onto the reservations. The military knew that Native warriors on their small horses comprised the finest light cavalry in the world. But this equicide wasn’t simply designed to clip the warrior’s wings; military men like Custer knew that the horse was as much a spiritual part of Native culture as the land itself. Taking away the horses was an attempt to break the people’s spirit. All across the West, Native American horses were rounded up and slaughtered as –Custer had orchestrated on the Washita River-or their herd stallions exterminated and replaced by studs from larger breeds. The military men were blinded by the fact that the “squaw ponies” used by the Native American people carried some of the bloodlines of Spain’s most regal bloodlines.”
A sacred few of these equine treasures were hidden from execution and preserved for decades by Choctaw and White families in the Southwest. Then, into Oklahoma, drove a young cowboy named Gilbert. H. Jones. He had a life-long passion for pure Spanish Mustangs (now more accurately called Colonial Spanish Horses) the rare breed to which all Indian Pony strains belong. Jones was so impressed by the remarkable abilities of the hardy breed that he dedicated the rest of his life preserving them. His brand G-J is found on some of the Choctaw Ponies at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.
The Choctaw Nation along with Gilbert Jones, Bryant Rickman and a host of others can be praised for helping to save the endangered bloodlines of the Choctaw Ponies they have preserved. Traits of the Choctaw Ponies are short, strong backs, mild temperaments, rather light in build, highly intelligent, hearty and surefooted with good legs.
Why does this matter? The Choctaw Indian Ponies are a direct remnant of the horses of the Golden Age of Spanish horse breeding, a type that is largely gone from Spain as well as America. Besides being an import part of American history, their genes are irreplaceable. Today only 300 of these rare breed Spanish ponies are left in the world.
Choctaw Indian Pony Preservation Project
Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary
Our program began in August 2012 with the generous donation of 3 Choctaw Mares and their 2012 foals by the Sheaffer Family of Windrider Farm Choctaw Horse Conservation Program in Pennsylvania. These exquisite mares and foals were greeted in South Dakota by their new herd sire. Lakna (Sky Horse), who was donated by Neda De Mayo’s Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary in Lompoc, California. His sire is the renowned Choctaw stud, Beechkeld Icktinicky, owned by Dr. D. Phillip Sponenberg.
With this acquisition, the Sanctuary has become stewards of one of the premier conservation herds in the country due to the unique genetics in this group.