Sunday, September 14, 2008

How It Began/Part III

In April of 2007, I had been Googling for information on Kiger Mustangs and happened upon a website calling itself THE CANADIAN KIGER MUSTANG REGISTRY. Kigers, in Canada? Sure enough! It seems that a couple from Oshweken, Ontario had imported a handful of young Kiger Mustangs from Oregon, with the intent to breed them and establish the Kiger breed in Canada. There was a link to the page showing some of their first offspring, and my eyes really grew big with surprise when I saw these photos of a filly born in April of 2005:

This filly showed promising Sorraia characteristics and even though she had a big red "SOLD" banner across her sale ad, I contacted the website anyhow...being very interested in learning who had purchased her so that I might follow her as she matures.

Kelly Gibson, who manages the fledgling Canadian Kiger registry, wrote me back and to my delight, informed me that the filly was still up for sale. (It seems the buyer reluctantly pulled out, due to a change in jobs.) The price that was being asked for the filly while not outrageous, was nevertheless a little more than what Kevin and I could come up with at that time. While we intended to add two more mares to Altamiro's harem, we were not planning to do so until we'd saved up more finances for such a venture. But, when fate puts a Kiger Mustang of promising Sorraia type just a little over 8 hours drive from you, well...its something that must be pursued as best you can.

Hardy Oelke has written about the Kiger Mustang in several different articles, pointing out that among the wild herds overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management one finds quite a lot of Kiger horses which exhibit the primitive phenotype of the Iberian Sorraia. To find out more about Kiger Mustangs, please follow this link:

Kelly told me that Ciente, the filly who had captured our interest, was by Shelby, a grullo Kiger stallion:
and was out of Bit O' Honey, a dun colored Kiger mare:
Ciente, as a newborn, with her dam, Bit O' Honey

Kelly said that the filly is registered as Nieta de Sombre, but that they call her Ciente. (We decided to stick with Ciente, because in Portuguese it means "aware".) Both Ciente's sire and dam came from ranches in Oregon, where several folks are breeding Kiger mustangs in captivity. I'm somewhat familiar with these breeders (through online research) and noted that they are mostly trying to breed away from the Sorraia phenotype, preferring their Kiger horses to have a bit heavier-muscled, rounded body, with rather psuedo-Arabian styled heads. Much to the dismay of such breeders those intrepid primitive genetics are pervasive and quite often crop up despite the efforts of captive breeders to influence away from the convex profiles and longer, more angular bodies we recognize in the Sorraia horses. Ciente is a perfect example of the triumph of atavistic anomalies. The only thing that would have kept me from putting an offer on her would have been if her profile was dished (instead of straight or convex) or if she had any white markings. Both her parents have small amounts of white, but thankfully, Ciente was a perfectly solid grulla, with a sub-convex profile (a bit more than straight, but not as convex as Altamiro).

It took a bit of back and forth between us and the owners (Bill and Sophia Hill) to come together on price, something we almost weren't able to do because even though they were willing to take less than their asking price, we were still several hundred dollars short. Incredibly, though, during these deliberations one of my mid-sized original watercolor paintings sold at the studio, bringing in the amount we were short and making it possible for us to go ahead with the purchase of Ciente!

Once again, our friends John and Nancy offered to help us fetch a horse from southern Ontario. Kevin and John left midday, lodged in a hotel near their destination and arrived at the breeders farm he next morning. Ciente loaded nicely and soon they were headed north, arriving at Ravenseyrie in the early evening (on April 28th 2007). When we opened up the trailer and I got my first glimpse of Ciente, I was astonished at what a marvelous acquisition we had made for our Sorraia Mustang Preserve!

Ciente has prominent stripes on both front and back legs in addition to her lovely Sorraia type bone structure. She is so similar to Altamiro in appearance that both Kevin and I find it almost to good to be true!

After several days "stabled" in our yard, it was time to turn Ciente out with the others. There was, as is typical, quite a bit of hazing by Mistral and lots of excitement among the others. Several times I feared that those delicate looking limbs of Ciente's would break while mad-dashing over such rough, unfamiliar terrain.
Mistral, hazing Ciente, with Zeus joining in just for the fun of the run.

But soon, things quieted down and Altamiro was able to get closer to Ciente while Mistral stayed off to the side catching his breath.Ciente, (on left) with Altamiro (center) and Bella in between hazing runs.

It wasn't long before Ciente was accepted into the herd and her and Altamiro (both two year olds at the time) became good friends.
Altamiro (on left), Ciente (center) with Belina looking on.

Altamiro spent lots of time with Ciente when she first arrived and often the two of them would go off aways from the herd on little explorations together. Don't they look like two best friends?

One of my favoriate photos of Ciente, looking so lovely against the misty greenness of Ravenseyrie.

Another fun photo: Ciente and Bella napping in the Scant field

Such a friendly, inquisitive filly, this lovely Ciente!

How better to close this journal entry than to share with you a few of the photos Leslie Town took of Ciente when she was here to visit Altamiro. Leslie captured the exotic beauty and natural collection of the primitive Iberian horse while taking photos last October.
Here we have both Ciente and Altamiro. Can you tell which is the Sorraia and which is the Kiger Mustang of Sorraia type?

Oh, and for what its worth...I have seen a photo of this year's foal by Shelby and Bit O'Honey--he's a very cute colt--but doesn't look at all like a Sorraia. Such a curious thing, the way gene express themselves in offspring!

Very soon, I will have for you an entry titled, How It Began/Part IV...even as I type this, we are just days away from receiving at Ravenseyrie, one more mare which will complete Altamiro's harem. This mare is coming to us all the way from Oregon, and is presently on layover in Manitoba and due to arrive here this Wednesday.


eva said...

Lovely pictures, Lynne! You are lucky to have gotten the truly primitive looking filly. Frankly, I don't understand why some people breed mustangs only to try to morph them into something with an arab looking head.

OK in the last picture, i think, the one on Clinete's right (looking in the direction they are heading) side is Altamiro. He is a touch darker, but they are very close.

I have a feeling with the new filly arriving there will be much less hazing. I bet Altamiro will see to it that it won't happen. He was much younger then.Oh this must be so exciting for you.

How are the little ones doing?

Kris McCormack said...

My guess about the last photo --

I think Ciente is the horse on our left as we're looking at the photo. I'm going by the dark streak on her muzzle running further up her face.


Annemiek said...

Hi Lynne,

I would say, Altamiro is on the left and Ciente is on the right. Ciente is a little rounder (softer) and a bit more “silver” coloured (hope I’m not insulting Altamiro if I am wrong :-))

I was wondering Lynne, is there a hierarchy among the ladies? Does Altamiro has a favorite? Would that mean that one gets her foal first? If there is some sort of rank, do you see this also in the youngsters? I read somewhere ( I believe in one of Any Beck’s stories) that the foal of the alpha mare is also the highest ranked youngster. But Altamiro has proven already that he is a very exceptional horse, the way he assisted with Animado’s birth. I was just wondering how things develop in this area.

Kris McCormack said...

Well, Lynne -- You have three guessers, two answers.
Who's who?



Lynne Gerard said...

Kris wrote: "Well, Lynne -- You have three guessers, two answers.
Who's who?"

Oops! I got so side-tracked by putting together Part IV I forget to let you gals know who's who.

Okay...the horse on the left of the photo is Altamiro and the one on the right is Ciente.

Ciente is a bit lighter than he, and she doesn't have the full dark face that both Bella and Belina do.

Now that we have Zorita here to compare with also, its really striking the degree of Sorraia type that Ciente possess. She's very, very elegant, and when she first arrived here, I had a hard time not looking at her without feeling a bit of a swoon coming on. Each of them have some captivating element to them, but Ciente, for me represents pretty much everything I like in an Iberian horse.

Lynne Gerard said...

Annemiek wrote: "I was wondering Lynne, is there a hierarchy among the ladies? Does Altamiro has a favorite? Would that mean that one gets her foal first? If there is some sort of rank, do you see this also in the youngsters? I read somewhere ( I believe in one of Any Beck’s stories) that the foal of the alpha mare is also the highest ranked youngster."

You know, the concept of hierarchy here is incredibly fluid and there isn't one mare that I would say is the "alpha"...I can say that Bella is the more mature acting, Belina is the one prone to short-temper and Ciente is the more easy-going in the way they all interact with each other. It will be interesting what character Zorita will bring to the blend.

The foals, too, do not seem the least bit fixed on hierarchy.

Contact Me said...

The last pic is of Ciente on the right and the Sorraia stud on the left. You can tell because Ciente has a bit of Arab flare. The Kiger Mustang comes in a variety of conformation styles due to the vast amount of breeds that influence them.

Lynne Gerard said...

Kim wrote, "You can tell be cause Ciente has a bit of Arab flare."

What can I say to this? I don't see what you see, and its made all the more apparent given that I have an Arabian which also shares my life and the two horses couldn't be more morphologically distinct from one another.

Kiger mustangs do indeed show different elements of conformation within their breed group. I've noticed the same thing in the Spanish Mustang registry as well.

Thanks for stopping by with your comment, however. It's nice you took the time to read.

Spanish Sulphurs said...

When evaluating a horse for different traits, never expect to see a purebred version of the trait. You can see Arab in her eyes and nose. QH with her ischiatic tuberosity sticking out quite far (pin bone) and also her semitendinosis (muscle line typically seen on QH and TB) is also present in some of the pictures of her. Her croup is also flat.

Do you notice that her hip gives an overall impression of being round? The point of the hip (tubercoxae) will not be overally high and will line up with the stifle (femorotibial joint). A more detailed explanation can be found here:

Lynne Gerard said...

I can appreciate your desire to educate me and gain my agreement with your perception of Ciente, however, I do not agree. And I am not alone in this.

My best to you with your Sulphur mare, La Victoria. May you develop an egalitarian relationship with her and come to know just what a fine individual she is on a "being to being" level.

Thank you for taking time to leave your comments.

Spanish Sulphurs said...

Sorry, but my opinion is not my own. To disagree would be to disagree with history. Which I cannot do.

I will persevere in the preservation of the purebred Spanish Sulphur horse in order that the famed horse of California will continue to exist.