In addition to Blue Moon Rising and Billy Jack, six other Nokotas are on-board for the project. Four Nokotas owned by Felicia Rocholl of Fergus Falls, Minnesota will be part of the Native Village presentation, as well as two Kentucky-based Nokotas - Raising Cain, owned by Crazy Horse Farm and Dragon, owned by Valerie Mulholland-Cravens.
Billy Jack and Blue Moon Rising earned this invitation through their countless hours logged exhibiting at the Kentucky Horse Park. They established their reputation as 'can-do' horses in any conditions.
Descendants of wild horses that roamed the Little Missouri Badlands of North Dakota, the Nokota horse's bloodlines are traceable to early North Dakota ranch horses and Indian ponies that the US government confiscated from Lakota people in 1881. With the enclosure of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the 1950s, many of these wild horses were unintentionally fenced in.
Threatened first by crossbreeding and later with removal by the National Park Service, these horses began to rapidly disappear, often, sadly, to slaughterhouses.
Two brothers, Leo and Frank Kuntz of Linton, North Dakota, tried to protect the unique strain of mustangs by purchasing as many of the horses from the National Park during round-ups and sales as they could.
They dubbed the breed "Nokotas," a tribute to the North Dakota badlands that they call home. In 1986, the Kuntz brothers joined forces with Dr Castle McLaughlin, a graduate student and park ranger who researched the horses for the National Park Service. Together, they began a breed registry and breeding programme, and began lobbying for the breed's protection and preservation. In 1993, Nokotas were designated the North Dakota Honorary State Equine.
In addition to be part of the Native Village Group at the WEG, the Nokotas will participate in breed-specific presentations throughout their stay in the Equine Village. Nokota Horse Conservancy directors will be on-hand to help with the presentations, including Leo Kuntz and Dr Castle McLaughlin. And John Steven Hockensmith, the official photographer of the Kentucky Derby and author of Spanish Mustangs in the Great American West: Return of the Horse, will give presentations about the Spanish Mustang breed with Billy Jack.
The Equine Village will be set up in the heart of the Kentucky Horse Park with breed and discipline organizations showcasing North Americas horses to the many international visitors - including Quarter Horses, Saddlebreds, Morgans and Standardbreds, as well as the BLM. The Nokotas and Billy Jack will be among the only Native breeds presented at WEG.