The Kiger Mustang
No other horse in America is quite like the Kiger Mustang found on Steens Mountain in southeastern Oregon. Most wild horses are of mixed influence and characteristics while the Kiger Mustangs possess many characteristics of the original Spanish Mustang. The word mustang was derived from the word mesteno, which meant " unclaimed sheep" in the Spanish language and later came to mean "wild" or "unclaimed" horse. Mustang came about as an English language slang term for mesteno.
The Spanish Mustang was a part of early American history, having roots in Native American history, and is the horse that helped settle the west. At one time it was thought to be extinct on the range. Since the Kiger Mustangs may well be one of the best remaining examples of the Spanish Mustang, their preservation is extremely important.
The Kiger Mustang exhibits physical color characteristics know as the "dun factor" which were also common to many of the horse the Spaniards reintroduced to North America in the 1600's. Color classifications of the dun factor are: dun, red dun, grulla (mouse gray), buckskin, and variations of these colors. Markings on animals with the dun factor include dorsal stripes; zebra stripes on the knees and hocks; chest, rib and arm bars; outlined ears; the top one-third of the ear on its backside darker that 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 these horses have, the stronger the dun factor. An individual horse having the dun factor may have many but not all of these markings.
Kiger Mustangs have the physical conformation of both the tarpan and oriental hotblood horses from which the original Spanish Mustangs came. They have small, round bones, small feet and very little feather on their legs and fetlocks. Their eyes are wide set and prominent. These animals also have distinctly hooked ear tips and fine muzzles. The Kiger Mustangs also look very much like the modern day Spanish Sorraias. They are indeed a unique breed of wild horse.
The BLM manages two special areas in southeastern Oregon for wild horse with Spanish Mustang characteristics. The two areas are located in the Burns District and are know as the Kiger and Riddle Mountain Herd Management Areas.
Seeing the beauty of the Kiger Mustangs in the wild with their classic coloration and markings will add much to your enjoyment of our western heritage. It is an experience you won't soon forget.