Red Dirt Diaries: Rancher Cares For Heritage Horse Of OK
PUSHMATAHA COUNTY, Oklahoma - Horse breeder Bryant Rickman still remembers the ridicule about the horse he had as a kid.
“People made me feel inferior. My horse was littler than theirs,” said Rickman.
That horse was a Spanish Colonial Mustang or Choctaw horse and Richman would fall in the love with the breed and their enduring spirit.
“They thrived with no intervention from man,” said Richman.
The Spanish Mustangs are smaller but are known for their endurance and were used by Oklahoma's earliest Native Americans.
On Blackjack Mountain in Pushmataha County, descendants of horses dating back to the “Trail of Tears” now roam free.
“It's very historical,” adds Richman.
Which is why, the Oklahoman now works so hard to save the animal from industries now shrinking their Oklahoma home.
He provides the horses with a nurturing place to roam near Blackjack Mountain, safe from man made threats.
“They really do become your friends. They're not counterfeit. They're the real thing,” said Richman about the Choctaw horse.
Rickman promised the original caretaker of the horses to always preserve their Spanish colonial bloodline by not breeding them with anything other than another Choctaw horse.
Ranch owners looking to adopt one of the horses must make the same pledge.
Each day, Rickman or a volunteer will drive 60 to 80 dirt road mile to check on the hundreds of horses living on and near Blackjack Mountain.
“I took away from my kids,” said Rickman about his sacrifices to care for the horses he loves dearly.
But with the number of Spanish Colonials Mustangs getting smaller, Rickman is committed to helping the animals thrive again.