The History of the Choctaw Horse

“The historical record for the Choctaw Indian horses is extensive and more details are known for this strain than for many other strains of Spanish Colonial horse. But they are surviving
by a thin thread... They are perilously close to extinction."

Dr. Phillip Sponenberg
Professor Pathology and Genetics, Virginia Tech

Choctaw Horses

The Choctaw Indian Pony was an integral part of Choctaw tribal culture, spirituality, and heritage. This tough, small horse lived through struggles and tragedies with the tribe, and some carried the ill and infirm on their backs along the Trail of Tears. Throughout their complex history, the Choctaw managed to maintain their unique horses through the preservation efforts of individual families. These strains were carefully guarded and had extensive oral pedigrees that went back to the early 1800’s. Up until the early 1970’s it was possible to find up to 1500 of the original type Choctaw horses. Since that time their numbers have been drastically reduced and 100% Choctaw horses now number less than 200.

The Choctaw Indian Horse Conservation Program is being launched by Fusco in association with Dr. Phillip Sponenberg of Virginia Tech, Bryant Rickman of Oklahoma, and the Return to Freedom Organization, as an immediate rescue effort to help preserve this historically, culturally, and scientifically important genetic resource before it is too late.

Along with ensuring their survival, our goals for the program include:

• enhancing the genetic base of the strain

• conserving variability in horses that go back to all Choctaw breeding

• ensuring the preservation of rare colorations such as the "calico tobiano"

• maintaining enough diverse lines to provide for breeding in the future

• returning the Choctaw horse to Choctaw tribal lands and programs