The Nokota horse is a breed of horse that was developed in the 19th century and is also native to the badlands of southwestern North Dakota. They came to be a breed through the mixing of ranch bred horses that came from horses that belonged to the Native American tribe, The Lakota.

These beautiful horses were almost killed off in the early 20th century by ranchers who were trying to reduce grazing to use the land for selfish purposes. Luckily, when the Theodore Roosevelt National Park was created a few horses were trapped inside and were preserved. The park tried selling off some of the horses, selling them off for slaughter. Many of them were used as food for captive lions and tigers.  After some time, a Nokota Horse Conservancy was developed to protect these majestic horses. The Nokota horses are descended from the last surviving population of wild horses in North Dakota. They are truly sacred and their lineage should be protected. 



The Nokota horse has an angular frame with prominent withers, a sloping croup, and a low set tail. The breed is often blue roan, which is a color rare in other breeds, although black and gray are also common. Less common colors include red roan, bay, chestnut, dun, grullo, and palomino. Pinto patterns such as overo and sabino occur occasionally.

There are two general types of Nokota horse. The first is the traditional Nokota, known by the registry as the National Park Traditional. They tend to be smaller, more refined, and closer in type to the Colonial Spanish Horse, and generally stand between 14 and 14.3 hands (56 and 59 inches, 142 and 150 cm) high. The second type is referred to as the ranch-type or National Park Ranch, more closely resemble early “foundation type” Quarter Horses, and generally stand from 14.2 to 17 hands (58 to 68 inches, 147 to 173 cm). Members of the Nokota breed do an ambling gait, once known as the “Indian shuffle.” Nokota horses are known for their versatility and intelligence. They have been used in racing and western riding, and fox hunting, dressage, three-day eventing, and also show jumping. 


The Nokota Horse Conservancy®, Inc., was formed in June, 1999 by a group of people dedicated to preserving this unique strain of horses and ensuring their survival into the next century. Prior to the establishment of the Conservancy, the Kuntz brothers had been saving and supporting as many horses as they could through their own efforts. After fifteen years of struggling with minimal resources, they were on the verge of giving up. The Nokota Horse Conservancy® is in need of basic resources such as feed for the horses during the often brutal North Dakota winters, and equipment to help provide feed, shelter, and water to the horses. ​If you are interested in helping to save the Nokota® Horses, please visit