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Montana Wild Horse Area

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 BLM-Managed Wild Horse & Burro Herd Management Areas:
Arizona  California  Colorado  Idaho  Montana  Nevada  New Mexico  Oregon  Utah BLM Holding & Adoption Centers Long-Term Holding Facilities  Back to Gallery


Learning about the specific herd management area where one's own horse or burro is from can enrich your appreciation for your adopted animal. It is in that spirit that these pages are offered. Do understand, however, that HMAs (Herd Management Areas) are not breeds. A horse or burro from one HMA has far more in common with all others from all other HMAs than it has differences. Within any particular HMA one will find variation in size, body type.

If you wish to know more about your horse or burro's ancestry, please also read the HISTORY section.


Montana only has one BLM wild horse area - and it's a famous one: The Pryor Mountains HMA. Home to "Cloud" of PBS and Breyer Collectible fame, and to "Orphan Annie" the first mustang ever adopted out by the government.

Montana originally, of course, had large widespread herds of wild horses, and isolated pockets can still be found today in wild areas, but most have been systematically wiped out. Only the Pryor Mountains horses have federal protection and management.

The Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range was created by Congress in 1968, 3 years before the Wild Free-Roaming Horse & Burro Protection Act of 1971. Its creation is described in detail in Chapter 8 of Heather Smith Thomas' "The Wild Horse Controversy" - a fascinating, thoroughly researched history of wild horses in America, published in 1979. It's a great read that brings to mind the old adage "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

The establishment of the Pryor Mtn Horse Range was very significant in wild horse history, in that it established federal recognition that the public valued wild horses, and that the horses were a national treasure worth protecting, thus paving the way for the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Wild Horse & Burro Protection Act. The experiences of setting up and managing the Pryors both paved the way for the national program, and provided learning experiences that would apply to the formation of the federal program.

No herd, even Kiger-Riddle, is so carefully watched by the public as Pryor Mtn, so thoroughly studied by field biologists, or has received so much major media coverage over the years.  Today, each animal is named and monitored by citizen advocates and its life history is documented by them. When a gather is scheduled, protests fly, expressing the same concerns as the same groups did in 1968 (that the government is trying to eliminate the herd, that the government is reducing the herd below genetic viability as a way of destroying it, that the government is not working in the interests of the horses but rather at the bidding of grazing and hunting groups, etc.) And the government's response remains the same: that the gather is needed to protect the range from destruction through overgrazing. Adoptions are well-attended and accompanied by much fanfare. Each animal in the adoption is featured on the Internet and in a published catalog, describing the animal's life history, observed temperament, etc.

Montana Map

Printable brochure
Pryor Mountain
National Wild Horse Range

2011 Fertility Management

2009 Pryor Mtn Adoption Catalog

Sample Bio detail from 2009 adoption


Originally Montana had more wild horse areas, but only Pryor Mountain remains as a Herd Management Area. All the rest have been eliminated, most of them very early on in the program. Small bands of elusive wild horses do still exist throughout Montana, but they have no federal protection. So long as they keep a low profile and don't reproduce too fast, they may remain safe.

data from

In 2010, Dr. Gus Cothran of Texas A&M performed genetic testing on samples from 109 Pryor Mountain horses. Full results can be read by clicking the image.

The short version is that the herd is of mixed ancestry, with some Old Spanish ancestry as well as modern racing and saddle breeds - not unlike many other HMAs.

Pryor Mountains horses tend to be on the small side, with a range of colors. The three basic colors (red, black, and bay) constitute the majority, but there are plenty of dilution genes of dun and creme are present (these are the color genes responsible for palomino, cremello, grulla, buckskin, zebra dun, etc) The only white spotting pattern is roan, and Pryor Mountain is a good producer of the ever-popular blue roan, as well as other roan colors.

Legend says that these horses are descendants of Chief Sitting Bull's herd. The mixed Spanish and modern saddle breed ancestry in their DNA allows this legend to remain a possibility, though this ancestry type is typical of many wild herds.

Kelley & Lance Landry and their Pryor Mountain mustang, Azul Solamente, who appeared as a celebrity horse at the 2007 Equine Affaire in Pomona, CA 

Kelley Landry and Azul Solamente
won the Halter class at the 2005 Western States Wild Horse & Burro Expo

Bucky, adopted by a neighbor of Lona Patton in Wyoming

Pryor Mountain Little Rebel - colt adopted by Sandra Schluter
The above three Pryor Mountains HMA horses were auctioned off on the BLM's November, 2003, Internet Adoption
Pryor Mountain horses on the range

Choose from:
BLM-Managed Wild Horse & Burro Herd Management Areas:
Arizona  California  Colorado  Idaho  Montana  Nevada  New Mexico  Oregon  Utah
BLM Holding & Adoption Centers Long-Term Holding Facilities

Non-BLM Wild Horse Areas:
Atlantic Coast  Central USA 
State of Nevada Dept. of Agriculture (Reno-Area Comstock/Virginia Range "Estrays")
US Forest Service Wild Horse Territories  Sheldon USFWS 

Wild Horse Areas not included in this website: Indian Reservations, Private Lands