Kiger Conquistador


Kiger don Sombre

Kiger Sundance

Oregon mare and foal

2E, Angel, & Minnie


The Kigers are a unique breed of horse whose history dates back to the discovery of the New World by the Conquistadors. Located by the Bureau of Land Management in 1977, these horses were found on the high desert of southeastern Oregon. Government officials agreed that they had a very different and special kind of horse. For preservation's sake they moved the small band of horses to other areas on the north end of the Steens Mountain near Kiger Gorge. The Kiger breed takes its name from this region.

Today Kigers are protected on two Herd Management Areas in southeastern Oregon, areas known as Kiger HMA and Riddle HMA. In addition, many individuals are raising Kigers on private farms and ranches throughout the United States. Kigers are being ridden and driven under a variety of disciplines, and are rapidly moving into the mainstream of equine society.

Blood testing performed by Gus Cothran at the University of Kentucky clearly shows that the Kiger Horses have a strong Spanish connection. Dr. Cothran's study in the early '90's indicated that the Kigers, while genetically diverse, have a higher degree of relatedness to Spanish domestic breeds than do most other wild populations.

The Kigers have been written about in publications such as Western Horseman, Horse Illustrated, Horse and Horseman, Conquistador Magazine, and The Buckskin Journal. The Associated Press surprised the public in 1999 when Jeff Barnard penned an article about that year's adoption. There the record sum of $19,000 was paid to adopt a Kiger Mustang filly. This was the highest amount ever placed to adopt a mustang of any type or strain.

You may also catch a glimpse of the Kigers in the media on shows such as the Discovery Channel, PBS, Horseworld, and Mamba Productions of Europe. In addition, a Kiger stallion was selected as the model horse for the animated film "Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron".

Kigers are short-coupled: they have a low tail-set, characteristic "hook-shaped" ears, and luxuriant manes and tails. The phenotype is that of a Spanish horse. A Kiger should be compact, with clean dense bone. The head profile is straight or slightly convex, not dished. The neck is set rather low to the shoulder: it is never a "pencil neck". Kigers have short cannons and heavy walled hooves that are exceptionally rugged. The hindquarter is well rounded and squarely set, but not heavily muscled.

Kigers range from 13.3 to 15.2 hands. The majority are duns, but Kigers can also be other colors, including bay, grulla, red dun, roan, gray, and black. An unusual color, termed "claybank" by the Kiger community, combines dun with cream to create the palest linebacked representatives of the breed. Some Kigers have white markings, but excessive white is discouraged.

The BLM gathers the Kigers approximately every three years. They have made significant progress in the management of the wild horse herds in Oregon. If you are interested in adopting a Kiger Mustang, you must contact the BLM in Burns, Oregon, at (503) 952-6001 or visit their website at The competition is fierce at wild Kiger adoptions. For this reason alone, more and more Kigers are being provided by private breeders. Domestic raised Kigers have the advantage of being readily available as well as accustomed to human contact.


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Steens Mountain Kiger Registry
26450 Horsell Road
Bend, Oregon 97701

Steens Mountain Kiger Registry, 2004. All rights reserved.