Nokota horses are some of the last descendants of the wild horses of North Dakota. These hardy, smart horses lived on the open rangeland among other bands of horses in the western North Dakota badlands.
During the 1940s and 1950s, the Nokotas had an uphill battle as many wild horses were considered competition to domestic livestock and commonly eradicated. In 1947, the Theodore Roosevelt National Park (THRO) was established in North Dakota and many Nokotas were fenced in the park. They were seen as unwanted nuisances and several of the horses were captured and sold to slaughter.
However, public opposition led the THRO to change its policy and manage the herd of wild horses. Since the public was not familiar with the Nokotas, many stallions were removed and replaced with well-known breeds like American Quarter Horses, Arabians, draft-crosses and BLM mustangs. This led to two distinct types of Nokotas--the traditional type and ranch type. The traditional type preserves the ancient bloodlines of the Nokotas which include Spanish Colonial horse bloodlines where as the ranch type is more heavily boned and taller because of the influence from draft breeds, thoroughbreds and perhaps other larger Iberian horses.
To preserve the Nokota, the Nokota Horse Conservancy was created in 1999 to support the conservation, breeding and individual ownership of the Nokota horse.