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We visited Palomino Valley in August of 2003, and saw the intriguing Pine Nut herd. There are two theories on the origins of the Pine Nut herd. The first is that they are descendants of Shetland ponies used in the mines and bred locally by a Shetland breeder, into the 1940's. When the breeder retired, he simply released them into the wild, where they mixed with local wild horses. The Pine Nuts are small, very very cute, and have all the colors that ponies have - like chocolate and silver dapples and champagne - as well as the usual horse colors.

The other theory comes from a local retired brand inspector who was born and raised in Pine Nut Country. He says the Shetland theory is incorrect. He says they are very "Old Spanish" in type and size, and that they never mixed with other horses, so they are more likely a relatively pure group of ancient lineage.

I like either theory. It would be nice if the horses were tested, to see if either theory is supported by DNA.

Compare the size of the Pine Nut mares (left) and this Calico Mountain mare (right) eating from the same type of hay feeder. You can see that the Pine Nut mares barely can reach the feeder, whereas the normal-sized mare can easily pull hay out of the middle and upper sections of the feeder.

Four-Socks Baby: His necktag number is #3687 (or 3887? can't tell for sure)

Nine-Year-Old red dun mare.

A nice Rabicano stud


Flaxen Chestnut mare with Strawberry Roan baby

Mares and foals

More mares & foals - most of these mares are barely tall enough to reach the feeders - these gals are definitely pony-like
Internet Adoption Pine Nut Pony
Cathy Barcomb of the Wild Horse Commission says this about the Pine Nut horses:

Thank you Nancy for posting the photos and generating interest in these special horses. They tend to be on the smaller side. It is my understanding, in the 1940's a person(s) had turned loose a large group of Shetland ponies. Through years of breeding the Pine Nut Herd Management Area was better known for these smaller horses. They don't look like true Shetlands because of the horse mix. The result was just a smaller size horse. They would be great POA type horses, they are strong horses and have incredible stamina and good conformation, just smaller. They tend to be 13-14 hands and some up to 14.2

What can you do with a Pine Nut Mustang? ANYTHING!!!
Meet Jessi and Manny - a Pine Nut Adopter and Her Horse:

Jessi, a Florida adopter, with her Pine Nut HMA mustang, Manny - the beautiful black 14.2hh horse at far right. Jessi takes Manny to clinics, adoptions, and other horse events, where Manny is a model "spokes-horse" for the BLM Adopt-A-Horse program.

Jessi describes Manny as "just the best horse"  - very intelligent, affectionate, devoted, and sturdy. She likes his size - it's easy to get on and off without a mounting block.

Thanks to Gwilda Byrd for the photos, and to Jessi for answering my inquiry about the Pine Nut horses.

"ButterCup" a Pine Nut Pony gentled and saddle trained at the Warms Springs Correctional Facility's Wild Horse Program in Carson City, Nevada.


Here is a picture of Shadow our 8 yr old Pine Nut horse on a 60 mile pack trip to Yosemite this summer.  Ray packed him, but he does ride him quite a bit as his second horse both here in Gardnerville and in the Sierra's! We also have Shadow's 3 yr old 1/2 brother who will be started this coming spring as he was a late bloomer. 
Another tidbit is that the BLM says that Shetland Ponies were released into the Pine Nuts years ago thus the horses are smaller.  That said I met a brand inspector who is in his late 60's and was born and raised close to the Pine Nuts.  He told me that that is not true and that the  Pine Nut horses were probably closer to Spanish horses, being smaller and short coupled.  He used to capture and break and sell Pine Nut colts when he was a kid and never saw,  nor heard the pony story.  Did say that the horses were not mixed with local ranchers horses thus being closer to true Spanish Mustangs.  Makes sense to me!!!
Sheila Schwadell

Sandra Schluter's Pryor Mtn (left) and Pine Nut (right) horses.