The Kiger Mustang is a unique and rare breed of horse found only in remote Eastern Oregon, USA. The Kiger is a direct descendent of the Spanish horses brought to the Americas by the Spanish Conquistadores via Mexico in the 1600s. These sturdy, sure footed, incredibly intelligent animals were the work horses and pack animals of the Spanish.
Over the years, many horses escaped, were stolen or otherwise made their way to the area in America known as the Great Basin. Here, in the South Steens Mountains in Eastern Oregon the farmers and ranchers had always known about the ‘yellow’ horses that all lived together in the mountains.
However, it wasn’t until 1971 that Ron Harding, a Specialist in wild horses at the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) recognized that these horses were homogeneous throughout the herd. All of them had similar colors and markings.
They decided to separate these special horses into two HMAs (Herd Management Areas) in order to perpetuate the breed and allow diversity. DNA testing was performed at the University of Kentucky to determine their lineage. The tests showed a high level of Spanish markers that bind them to the Spanish horses from the 1600s. It was also noted that the Dun Gene Factor is present in them too.
To keep the two herds at management levels, gatherings of the Kigers are held only every four years or so. It was at one of these early gatherings that Rick Littleton adopted the gorgeous stallion Steens Kiger. He was a beautiful Dun stallion that Rick brought to his ranch in Bend, Oregon for his breeding mares. It was 1978. He could never have imagined how his stallion would affect the horse world today.
Steens Kiger has a son, Donner, who is internationally known as the inspiration for the animated film, “Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron”. When DreamWorks owner, Jeffrey Katzenberg was looking for just the right horse to showcase in his movie, he found it in Donner. DreamWorks purchased Donner from Rick. Donner was the model for all the sketches in the wonderful movie that has enthralled young and old alike for years