Rawlins Field Office

Lost Creek Horses Unique in Wyoming

Genetic testing on the Lost Creek wild horse herd has shown the horses to carry a very high percentage of genetic markers identified with the Spanish Mustang breed. This means the horses are genetically more like the Spanish Mustang and other New World Iberian breeds than they are like other breeds such as American Quarter Horse or Morgan. The characteristic makes the Lost Creek herd unique among the wild horse herds of Wyoming tested so far.

The Lost Creek herd is located in southcentral Wyoming and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management's Rawlins Field Office. The current population of the herd is about 116 animals. The herd management area (HMA) is located in the central portion of the Great Divide Basin and contains a small portion of the area known as the Red Desert. The Lost Creek herd has been more isolated from surrounding herds than is characteristic for Wyoming herds.

According to Chuck Reed, Rawlins Field Office, whose work is concentrated in the wild horse program, "The horses in the Lost Creek herd look a little different than other wild, free-roaming horses in Wyoming. They are just a tiny bit smaller, and their coloring is different than that of neighboring herds. Paints are less common in Lost Creek with solid colors predominant. Dorsal stripes and other so-called 'primitive markings' are more common."

The BLM has been working with noted equine geneticist Dr. Gus Cothran of the University of Kentucky to better understand the genetics of the wild horses it manages. This information will help the BLM develop a management plan for the horse herd that will ensure its longterm viability as a rare and unique genetic resource. The plan will identify ways the management of the Lost Creek herd and its habitat might need to be modified in order to protect the rare and unique genetic resource.

The Spanish Mustang breed was introduced to the Americas by the Spanish explorers and conquistadors in the 1500s. Genetic testing on the Pryor Mountain wild horse herd in southern Montana has shown it to also be closely related to the Spanish Mustang breed.