Kashi is shy but very alert and intelligent. If you take your time approaching him he is mindful when being handled for grooming or for any medical attention but he prefers his herd mates to humans! He is truly a medicine horse with a strong spirit.
The Choctaw horses are Spanish horses that remain from the early colonial efforts of the Spaniards in North America. These horses are important as a genetic resource because they have become rare, and are one of the oldest strains of horses in North America. These horses have been pivotal in the conservation of Colonial Spanish horses in North America.
Arriving in North America in the 1500s with Hernando DeSoto, the Choctaw Indian Pony was an integral part of Choctaw tribal culture, spirituality, and heritage by the 1800s. This tough, small horse lived through struggles and tragedies with the tribe, including the forced relocation of the Choctaw and Cherokee peoples known as the “Trail of Tears.” The sturdy Choctaw pony carried the ill and elderly on their backs along the Trail of Tears. For years the tribal families would hide these treasured ponies in the hills to prevent their extermination.
The pure descendants of these horses are part of a conservation program founded by the late Gilbert Jones on Black Jack Mountain, Oklahoma in an effort to preserve their unique color genetics, temperament and heritage. Since the 1950s, Gilbert Jones pioneered a conservation program for Spanish mustangs including the ‘Hidalgo horses’ and the Choctaw horses. In 2008, the timber company ceased all livestock and horse grazing leases on Blackjack Mountain and all the horses were removed. Bryant Rickman continues Gilbert Jones’s legacy in Oklahoma.
In 2005, Return to Freedom had collaborated with screenwriter John Fusco and launched The Choctaw Horse Conservation Program. Dr. Phillip Spoenenberg chose a band of seven mares from Blackjack Mountain to join Chief Iktinike in forming a foundation group to help preserve these rare horses in what he calls “a genetic rescue.”