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The history on all existing mustangs is at best interesting, but largely wishful thinking, and always insufficient in proving a Spanish origin of any given mustang, or mustang population. As for the horses bred within the various mustang registries, and the stock they all go back to: their foundation stock again was picked based on histories that dona€™t stand close scrutiny.
However, mustang enthusiasts seem to be less concerned with scientific genetic tests but are intrigued by - sometimes obsessed with - anything historical about these horses, even though it should be clear right frome the start that no definite history is available. Arguably the most popular mustangs today are those found in the Kiger Herd Management Area in Southeastern Oregon. While there may be different opinions as to what constitutes Spanish conformation - even though there shouldn't be -, in my opinion Spanish conformation is certainly present in the Kiger herd sufficiently to characterize the Kiger as a Spanish mustang. In another article I have pointed out that the genotype of most Kigers is an Iberian one, the same one that is found in other mustangs of Iberian extraction, like the Sulphur Springs, the SMR resp. That a Spanish heritage has been cracked up for the Pryor mustangs because an Indian travel route is supposed to have run in the relative vicinity of the Pryor range may seem weird though - as if Indians ever cared to look for Spanish type in the horses they stole, captured, or traded in!
While it stands to reason that, up to a certain point in time, what horses Indians had access to had to be descendants of Spanish horses, this wasn't necessarily the case anymore in later times, and certainly not anymore in the period before the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range was established.
We should be agreed on one thing: that for centuries, the wild horses were all derived from Spanish horses. If we consider that the multitude of wild horses, all of Spanish descent, had originally spread from Mexico and Florida over all of what is the USA today, and well up into Canada, then we realize that there isn't a single region that couldn't have had its own original wild Spanish horse population - there is no need for special Indian raids, for a Santa Fe trail, for other trails, for Texas cowboys to have brought Spanish cow ponies up into Wyoming and Montana, for Indian travel routes to account for herds in the Big Horn Mountains, etc.
One could even argue that all those regions that remained home to wild horses without any particular history would be more likely to have "uncontaminated" Spanish horses, and that where ever Man - white or red - has played any kind of a role, there were increased chances for an influx of other horse breeds!
In regard to the presence of Spanish wild horses in a given area the issue is not so much who brought them there, but rather how secluded could they have been there, and how isolated were they from contaminating influences.
For all these reasons, Oregon doesn't need a particular history of Spaniards roaming that territory in order for the Kigers (and other Oregon mustangs) to be recognized as Spanish mustangs - the wild horses of Spanish ancestry were perfectly capable of wandering there by themselves, and evidently have done so.
However, if we are looking for instances where Spanish horses were directly taken to Oregon, we can indeed find those, too. The horses the California vaquero rode in his heyday were of straight Spanish descent, their ancestors stemming from Mexican (mostly Sonoran) horses, but occasionally refreshed by Spanish (and Portuguese) imports.
We need to consider that Rojas most likely didn't differenciate properly between buckskins and duns, many of the horses he refers to here may have actually been duns. Such undertakings, with vaqueros riding California horses, could not have failed to bring such horses into Oregon! Arnold Rojas was not the only one who testified to the flow of California Spanish horses into Oregon. Early ranchers in the Camp Creek area found huge 'pots' (which they used for watering livestock) which are similar to those used in Spain today for certain mining processes. If one studies reports of expeditions to the West, one sometimes comes across accounts that testify the scarceness of horses, wild or in the hands of Indians. Rather interesting is the fact that Arnold Rojas in his books more than once mentioned Portuguese that came to California, even when the country was in its infancy (or maybe especially then). Don Avila, father of modern horse trainer and showman Bob Avila, told this writer that his name is Portuguese and that his family traces back to Portuguese immigrants.
A question that might be impossible to answer today is, what is accountable for the fact that a mtDNA genotype is found in Oregon's Kiger herd that we don't find in other mustang populations. Taking a look at the more recent past prior to The Act, and the BLM's involvement, is also of interest.
According to Ron Harding, Kiger Gorge reportedly got its name due to a gentleman whose last name was Kiger, and who in search of forage for his cattle came upon the gorge. So, for anyone willing to take an objective look at the history of California and Oregon, it is quite obvious that the existence of Spanish mustangs in Oregon cannot only be explained credibly, but under the circumstances was inevitable. They say that they go by genotyping, conformation, and history, as equally important aspects.

There isna€™t a single mustang herd that has been monitored continuously over the last centuries, and at closer scrutiny one invariably finds plenty of evidence for possible other influences. In many cases it was good enough if the horses were possessed or bred by Indians a€“ as if Indians had ever cared about a Spanish history of the horses they acquired! Well, now that it has been proven through mtDNA anylyses, we know that most American mustangs indeed trace back to Iberian stock. Nobody kept track of who all came through any given area within the last 150 or 200 years, and with what horses. While mustangs of other BLM herds are adopted out for a nominal fee, Kiger mustangs were the first to be auctioned off to the highest bidder and to fetch considerable, sometimes enormous prices. This verdict is easily dismissed if coming from people who classified the Pryor Mountain mustang flatly as of the best Spanish type of all existing mustang herds - for, while there are certainly a few good Spanish types among them, there is a larger percentage of horses in that population that are of indifferent type.
However, having said that, every single other herd out there varies even more, and the same with the populations within registries. Conformationwise, the Kiger does not have to take a back seat compared with any other mustang. In assessing the history of other wild herds, people have made all kinds of claims, and most are just speculations. Indians took what useful horses they could get, and in many cases, simply what horses they could get.
A compilation of historical facts regarding the Pryor horses which was published at one time by the BLM in Billings, Montana, makes it very obvious that whatever role Indian horses may have played in the foundation of the feral horses of that area, it was just a minor one at best.
There was plenty of opportunity for each neck of the woods to have retained its own original band of wild horses of Spanish ancestry, not because the animals were brought there due to certain circumstances, but because the horses wandered there by themselves in their expansion over North America, and found a secluded enough spot where they could escape pursuit. Irrespective of how wild horses of Spanish ancestry have conquered the continent on their own, and how this was expedited by raids and trades of various Indian tribes, there is one general fact to consider: The California ranching culture, the California vaquero's way of riding and training a horse and of working cattle was omnipresent along the whole Pacific slope and the dominant influence there. And the California vaquero took them wherever he went - into Nevada, Utah, and definitely into Oregon. Most of the stories told are set in the second half of the 19th century, and the early 20th century. These migrations of cattle account for the slick Visalia saddle trees and rawhide reatas one finds in use on Nevada and Oregon ranches.
One of the other ranches owned by the same company would send horses to supply the amount required for each man's string.
It was not long after the missions were founded that Tejonenos had learned the value of the animal (the horse) and had become expert in stealing them. There are Spanish mines in the Camp Creek area, as well as the remains of a rock fort near the mines.
Camp Creek is perhaps 100 miles from Beatys Butte (where the original horses were gathered that became the nucleus of the Kiger herd). This is to question the dates given by some authors as to when the various Indians had acquired the horse, as well as the numbers given in other reports, the logic being it being that there couldn't have been many horses in a given area if hardly any were sighted during a trip of several weeks across the wilderness.
It is remarkable that the Kigers so far are the only mustang population with individuals of the A3 mtDNA pattern, which is found in about half of today's Lusitanos and Andalusians.
Much has been written and even more has been said and rumored about the Kigers' history that is simply wrong. And the founders of these registries selected their horses based on whatever standards they believed in a€“ nothing scientific, nothing proven, some of it definetely wrong. There are some hints, and even some facts, but everything remains very sketchy, and usually unreliable. This caused a lot of envy among admirers of other herds, and also breeders within existing mustangs registries. The Kigers are clearly the most uniform wild herd in existence today, or at least they were until not too long ago, because the management of the Kiger HMA by the BLM hasn't been favorable toward a homogenous type.

Well-meant efforts to document a Spanish history for the Sulphurs have focused on the Santa Fe trail, and on Indian raids into California.
The time when any relevant historical facts were recorded began about 100 or 150 years ago, and by then expeditions, trappers, settlers, and soldiers had made their way west, and horses from the East which were mostly of non-Spanish derivation had been introduced to the wild herds.
This culture reached up into Oregon and Washington, and to adegree even into British Columbia and Alberta, as well as into Nevada, Arizona and Utah. To this day, western horsemanship in Oregon is identical to that in California, and it's similar in Nevada. The following quotations are evidence not only about California's mustangs, but also give some examples of how ranches in California and Oregon and Nevada exchanged horses. However, I personally think it's entirely possible for plenty of wild horses to have existed in the general region where such a trip was made, without being seen at all. Iberian ancestry in Oregon may have derived from wild horse migration and Indian activities in the area, as well as directly through Spaniards, and cattle drives and ranching activities later. They had the best intentions, however, and along with many questionable ones they managed to save some sure-enough special horses which we are all grateful for. And even if actually more particulars were handed down through the generations in a given region, that wouldn't necessarily make the horses of that region more Spanish. So from then on, it was no longer a given that wild horses were necessarily of Spanish lineage. Many horses were driven across the Sierras to eventually come into the hands of tribesmen in the far North.
There were not really any 'settlements', because their only reason for being here was to obtain gold. One must consider the vast expanses the horses roamed in, and that they were probably as wild and shy as so many deer or jackrabbits. What's tragic is that these special horses have been crossed on atypical horses indiscriminately - not on purpose, but out of ignorance. All that could, but will not be, disputed here, but what's not right is to deny the same for the Kigers. And nobody ought to entertain the idea that any Indian would have missed out on an opportunity to get his hands on a nice horse because he didn't consider it "Spanish"! There is some evidence that the Spanish had expeditions as far as Canada and that the Indians (Shoshone) ended the Spanish occupation here, maybe about 1600.
One can today even drive all day across America in a car, through states that are home to thousands of deer, or elk, seeing but a few, or maybe even none at all. Both, Juan Losada and George Leon of the Tejon Rancheria have told of Blackfeet raiding in the San Joaquin. The last conflict between the Indians and Spanish was supposed to have been near the north end of the Steens Mountains.
He called them the 'Orianna mustangs' and said that if any of the duns were left that they would be found on Beatys Butte. I asked him why, and he said that there were no fences there and the terrain was so rocky you couldn't get to the area with a saddle horse. We put some of them on Riddle Mountain and some in the East Kiger Herd Management Area, after cleaning the horses out of the East Kiger HMA.

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