Friday Standing Ovation, Presented by Ovation Riding

Honoree: the Nokota Horse Conservancy.

Each Friday Horse Nation teams up with Ovation Riding to spotlight an individual or organization that is doing good work in the horse world. This week we salute the Nokota® Horse Conservancy.

Presented by:

ovationThis week’s honoree:

whpdhm7v1cmoweevs2dxLast month Horse Nation writer Kristen Kovatch reported on the inaugural American Horsewoman’s Challenge, which took place in Oklahoma City in early October. (You can check out Kristen’s story, “Second Fiddle? No Thanks. New Competition Spotlights America’s Top Horsewomen,” here.) The winners of the 2014 Challenge were Jerusha Steinert and Mesabi Warrior, a Nokota Horse.

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Jerusha Steinert and Masabi Warrior. Photo by Karen Wegehenkel Photography.

I was impressed by their performance and began researching the Nokota breed, which I knew virtually nothing about other than the fact that it was the state horse of North Dakota. In my research I soon ran across the website of the Nokota Horse Conservancy, an organization that has made great strides in establishing, protecting and promoting the breed. They are running a campaign on crowdsourcing site IndiGoGo through December 20 — you can check it out here.

What is your mission?

The Nokota Horse Conservancy is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to preserve the unique and historical Nokota Horse. These wild horses of the northern plains inhabited the Little Missouri badlands, now encompassed by Theodore Roosevelt National Park, for more than a century. They were removed by the National Park Service and sold during the 1980s and 1990s. The vast majority of the remaining Nokota horses now survive on the overburdened Kuntz Ranch. The goals of the Nokota Horse Conservancy are to preserve these important horses by caring for them, promoting awareness of their plight, value and use to others, and by working to establish a sanctuary where they can survive into the future.

What do you do?

The Nokota Horse Conservancy exists to preserve Foundation-bred Nokota horses. We don’t sell or train horses, although the Kuntz family and other members do that on a limited basis — there aren’t a lot of Nokotas in existence (and virtually all of the money from Kuntz family horse sales goes to supporting the rest). All of our activities are organized by members, who volunteer to keep things running and who raise funds to care for the horses and publicize our mission. So far, we’re still working hardest at just keeping the horses alive and well. We are developing a number of collaborative projects that we hope will help us reach our ultimate and most essential goal:   acquiring land for a sanctuary. You can read about some of our partnerships on the web site, and we’re always open to new ideas.

The Nokota stallion Jumping Jack and his band of two mares and foals at the Nokota Horse Conservancy. The adult horses here show two common colors of the Nokota horse; blue roan and black, while the foals sport two variants of the within the breed somewhat less common bay coloring. The standing foal also has the roan gene; the foal laying down and the black adult are examples of splashed white, another gene common among the Nokotas. Photo: Seth Zeigler/Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons License.

The Nokota stallion Jumping Jack and his band of two mares and foals at the Nokota Horse Conservancy. The adult horses here show two common colors of the Nokota horse, blue roan and black, while the foals sport two variants of the within the breed somewhat less common bay coloring. The standing foal also has the roan gene; the foal laying down and the black adult are examples of splashed white, another gene common among the Nokotas. Photo: Seth Zeigler/Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons License.

What challenges does the Conservancy face?

Without the dedication of the Kuntzes and the band of volunteers, which in 1999 became the Nokota Horse Conservancy, these historic animals would have been lost decades ago. Together, they have rebuilt the breed, using careful practices, so that the horses, whose numbers dipped as low as 20 at one point, would survive. The old bloodlines have been carefully documented, and a select number of animals are bred each year.

With the US economy’s downturn and the soaring costs of fuel, pasture, and hay, the non-profit Nokota Horse Conservancy has seen a catastrophic drop in donations.

The NHC’s current operating account is nearly $20,000. With few options left, this financial situation may force the dispersal of the NHC herd and the end of the Nokota Horse Conservancy.

Photo: François Marchal/Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons License

Two young Nokota mares. Photo: François Marchal/Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons License.

The Conservancy is currently raising funds through an IndiGoGo campaign. What is the goal?

The goal of this campaign is to cover the current $20,000 shortfall and raise a year’s operating expenses — that’s $150,000.  This money is used to pay for rented pasture, veterinarian bills, training, hay, and management of the Nokota herd.

Until a permanent home can be found for the horses, this is an ongoing effort, year after year.

Blue Moon, blue roan Nokota stallion. Photo: Seth Zeigler/Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons License.

Blue Moon, a blue roan Nokota stallion. Photo: Seth Zeigler/Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons License.

What can we do to help?

Contribute today! Winter is coming. Money for hay and winter board is needed. Vet bills need to be paid. In the spring, pastures will need to be rented again.

We have some great perks for you! Along with the great feeling that comes with being instrumental in saving this historic breed of horses, you can enjoy many unique ‘thank you’ gifts!

Even if you cannot donate now, you can help the Nokotas by spreading the word!  Share on Facebook, email the link, do whatever you can to increase awareness of this campaign.

The horses (and their people) thank you!

We applaud the Nokota Horse Conservancy for the great work they do and encourage Horse Nation readers to visit their website and Facebook page to learn more.

Go Riding!

Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected] Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.

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