The Choctaw Horse is a breed that is native to the United States.
This powerful breed is known for its endurance, intelligence, and calm temperament.
In this post, we’ll break down everything you need to know about Choctaw Horses!
Choctaw Horse Breed Info
Here are some of the key things you need to know about the Choctaw horse:
|Height (size)||13.2 – 14.2 hands high|
|Colors||All colors are allowed even though pintos are the most common|
|Country of Origin||United States of America|
|Common Uses||General riding, Western events|
Choctaw Horse Facts & Information (Breed Profile)
The Choctaw were reliant on the little horse, which they had carefully developed for long-distance hunting excursions.
For more than 500 years, the horses followed the Choctaw tribe, often without fences.
The Choctaw Pony formerly numbered in the thousands, very similarly to the Choctaw Nation that laid claim to them, but now there are only around 200 of them left, and they can be found mostly in isolated preservation initiatives, such as the one that was established in part by Return to Freedom.
However, DNA testing has shown that the Colonial Spanish Choctaw horses still in existence today are, in fact, direct descendants of horses transported to the New World by the Spanish Conquistadors in the 15th century.
It would be hard to imagine indigenous Americans living in the deep South prior to the 1600s without having come into contact with horses, but this was really the first time these animals were seen by indigenous people in that part of the country.
Spanish conquistadors, led by Hernando de Soto, were the first to ride horses into Mississippi in their quest of the legendary Seven Cities of Cibola, which were said to be filled with gold and riches.
The unusual animals were named “spirit dogs” by the indigenous Choctaws.
The Spaniards brought many domesticated animals to the native peoples of the Americas, including horses, cattle, goats, sheep, and pigs.
The Choctaw quickly became skilled cattle raisers, and “spirit dogs” were widely accepted within Choctaw culture.
The exceptional quality of their livestock, particularly their horses, had achieved legendary status and was often mentioned in the journey diaries of the time period, including those published by Lewis and Clark.
The Choctaw continued to develop as a nation until September 1830, when Andrew Jackson signed the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek.
The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was one of the greatest land swaps between the US government and American Indians ever negotiated during a period of peace.
This was the first removal treaty to be implemented under the Indian Removal Act.
During the “Relocation,” thousands of Choctaw were forcibly removed from their native territory.
After being forced to leave their native lands and farms to make room for Anglo plantation owners, they marched on foot (sometimes barefoot) down what would later become known as the Trail of Tears.
It is estimated that between 4,000 and 5,000 of the 16,000 indigenous people who were forcibly relocated died during the journey.
In an attempt to easier force Indians into reservations, the United States government authorized the extermination of Indian horses.
The Native Americans’ horses, along with the land itself, had a significant spiritual meaning in the culture of the Native American people; hence, seizing these assets was a tactic used to break their spirit.
However, the quick ponies were difficult to capture.
Unbeknownst to the cavalry, there were a few families hidden away in remote areas on the reservations who kept breeding their cherished horses in an effort to maintain their ancestral lineages.
Then came a new challenge: the United States government implemented the Tick Eradication Program, requiring the shooting of every wild pony in Oklahoma.
However, destiny would have it that a young cowboy named Gilbert H. Jones would swing the tide in favor of the breed.
G. H. Jones had a lifelong interest in genuine Spanish mustangs (now called Spanish Colonial Horses).
With just one horse remaining, a stallion, he set out from New Mexico into the Kiamichi Mountains in northeastern Oklahoma, where he started the task of reestablishing a pure colonial Spanish horse herd.
He was assisted in the purchase of several Choctaw mares as well as one extra stallion by a group of Choctaw elders.
Jones’ herd had grown to about one hundred pure horses by the 1980s. Jones remained dedicated to preserving the Choctaw Indian Pony well into his old age.
After his death in 2000 at the age of 93, his legacy of conservation and study was carried on by Bryant and Darlene Rickman, who continue to breed and conserve Jones’ horses on the land he originally purchased.
In 2005, John Fusco, together with Dr. Phillip Sponenberg, DVM of Virginia Tech, Bryant Rickman of Oklahoma, and Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary, established the Choctaw Indian Horse Conservation Program.
John Fusco is a Colonial Spanish Mustang conservationist and screenwriter for “Hidalgo,” “Thunderheart,” and “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron”.
The initiative began a last attempt to save this historically, culturally, and scientifically significant genetic resource.
Also in the year 2005, a herd of seven mares and a stallion made its way from Blackjack Mountain, Oklahoma, to Fusco’s Red Road Farm in Vermont.
This herd of 100% pure tribal-line Choctaw Ponies had various and rare color genes that were in danger to be lost forever.
The ponies were moved to the Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary in California in 2008.
If you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating breed, keep reading!
“Choctaw Indian Pony”
Inquisitive, intelligent, people-oriented disposition, calm, gentle
They are stocky, very strong, and have great endurance.
The head has a straight profile, and the manes and tales are full.
The legs are sound, and hooves are tough.
They are energetic and agile which makes them suitable for faster Western riding events.
They also have a great ‘cow sense’ and excel at working with cattle.
They are gaited.
All colors are allowed even though pintos are the most common
13.2 – 14.2 hands high
General riding, Western events
Country of Origin
United States of America
Spanish colonial horses