WHAT IS A NOKOTA® ?
© Seth ZEIGLER
Meet one. You can make it happen; there are Nokota® owners scattered across the Nation, and even Europe, and they are a smitten, dedicated bunch who are happy to give you the chance to see for yourself, in the flesh, what is so special.
In the meantime, let's begin by saying that for many the primary "Nokotaness" is the mind, the deep connection and trust that can be built out of true partnership. Survival on the brutal prairies throughout such a treacherous period of history required intense teamwork and communication; Nokotas® are language experts and if you listen you can easily, intuitively, learn much of theirs, while they learn ours.
"Wild" horses because of their keen understanding of nature and ability to survive amid it and thrive with nothing more, but intensely social by nature and always eager for a capable partner.
Meanwhile, their physical characteristics were sculpted by the demands of their homeland, the "Badlands", a chaotic labyrinth of draws and valleys divided by scoria (naturally baked and crushed clay) ridges and bentonite buttes that become incredibly uncertain footing when wet. The need for sudden acceleration is ever present here where mountain lions enjoy so many haunts from which to stage an ambush : acceleration to a dead run from a standstill in the open, across a gulley, over the numerous burrows of the subterranean creatures that can only be seen at the last second when racing across the grasslands.
So much of the Nokota's most "striking" physical uniqueness is in its powerful hindquarters with steeply sloped and angular croups designed for these sudden bursts of raw power. From behind, the hindquarters look very square relative to other breeds due to a different hip and muscle structure, a uniqueness noted already well over a century ago when Frederic Remington wrote of the northern plains horses.
After extreme blizzards annihilated North Dakota's cattle herds in the late 1800's many of its ranchers switched to raising horses, which weathered the storms much better and were exported across the growing Nation. Some, like the Marquis DeMores who founded Medora, present day headquarters of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, were staunch proponents of the unstoppable little Indian ponies, while others, like A.C. Huidekoper, focused instead on more size for ranch work, power for breaking the sod to create farms, and refinement for competitions including polo and invested great sums to import revered Thoroughbred, Percheron, and similar stallions. This new hybrid became known as the "American Horse", a true frontier "American Warmblood", and lives on today in the "Ranch" type Nokota horses.
Meanwhile the leg bones and hooves are strongly built, designed to take anything mother nature can throw at them, including heavy feathering in the winter, even on the little "Traditional" Nokota®, that protects the legs when pawing through ice crusted snow for sustainence.
The hooves are broad and the angle on the pasterns is relatively steep when viewed standing still, and probably a big part of the characteristic smoothness of their motions, in addition to a surprising amount of flexability throughout the body. It is not uncommon to see a grown Nokota® delicately scratching its ear with a hind hoof.
Nokota® colors :
Blue is a very special color for the Lakota, and roan horses were often reserved for and favored by some of their most respected warriors. Some consider it the color of storms, of their mysterious powers... and blue roan changes with every season to an often nearly black winter coat that more readily soaks up the little warmth the low sun offers, while in the spring and summer blue roan Nokotas® are often very light and mistaken for greys... a color which reflects the sun when the weather is already warm.
Fitting that this horse from a land of such temperature extremes also has such a preponderance of blue, although black and grey are also common colors, along with a wide variety of color modifiers including roan upon the less frequent base colors of chestnut, sorrel, and bay, in additon to the modifiers overo, rabicano, dun, pangare, sooty, and sabino.