Fort Polk Horses of Kisatchie

Pegasus Equine Guardian Association™ (PEGA) formed to unify efforts to preserve and protect the wild and free roaming herds of horses in Louisiana’s Kisatchie National Forest and Fort Polk. These unique herds of wild horses have been a part of Louisiana’s local culture since its early beginnings, and are considered Louisiana’s Heritage Horses.  

Tucked away in central Louisiana are herds of wild horses whose presence can be traced back centuries. They are a vision that removes you from all attachment to the outside world. But sadly, their existence is threatened by a removal plan implemented by the Range Control Division at Fort Polk Military base.

For centuries, horses have roamed the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana, which is approx. 604,000 acres in which the US Army occupies approx 250,000 acres.

These wild and free-roaming horses, over years and generations, have reverted to their wild state, especially through their offspring who have never known anything other than wild.

In the past Army has at least tolerated the horses and some have actually enjoyed their presence. Some commanders appreciated them even enjoyed their presence and stated that he didn’t want to lose the horses, which had become an integral part of the environment of the training areas where they constituted an element of realism.

In August 2015, a new commander, Brig. Gen. Timothy P. McGuire, approved (if not ordered) the removal of the horses. The Army held a public meeting to discuss a good plan for their disposition on August 13th, 2015. Part of the outcome from the hearing, was recommendation that the public submit comments & proposals for humane solutions regarding the equine presence in Kisatchie and at Fort Polk. Comments/Proposals were to be submitted by Sept 5th, 2015. By the end of the comment period in September 2015; over 1200 individuals sent approx 2,736 letters to Congress. Public demand for conservative, humane, ethical treatment of these animals is undeniable and support continues to grow as seen by the steady increase in support today.

The Commanders at Fort Polk come and go every couple of years. Previous Generals allowed the horses some even fought to preserve them, protecting the sanctity of the land, history and animals. It is grossly unfair that a temporary commander is making a permanent decision on the behalf of future generations. There is a very real possibility that some of the remote herds are of Spanish Mustang decent, and could possibly receive federal protections. Therefore, they should not be managed to extinction. The population management of these horses cannot be a brute attack on their future ability to thrive and exist. 

It is vital that herd management is done with careful, conservative, scientific, humane consideration. Our goal is to establish ethical and human solutions, that may include a mix of non-permanent fertility control, finding good adopters for some horses, along with some herd control measures to keep horses away from sensitive areas of Fort Polk property. But the only way to find the best solutions is to engage in honest and open consultation with as many experienced people, experts, and local stakeholders as possible.

These horses are an important part of the history, culture, and heritage of this area.

We implore key decision makers to include specialized wild horse professionals and equine advocates to assist Fort Polk in devising and executing an ethical and humane solution to the equine presence in Kisatchie / Fort Polk / Peason Ridge that allows the military, the civilians of the area, and the free horses to peacefully and safely coexist as they have done for the past centuries.

As concerned citizens our goal is to protect the Wild Horses in Kisatchie National Forest including herds at Fort Polk, Peason Ridge, etc. We are in awe of their ability to self sustain as a wild herds dating back centuries. Our efforts focus on genetic analysis of horses evicted, advocating for sanctuary with responsible and ethical herd management practices that center around equine welfare.

Louisiana’s Wild Horses are both historically significant and biologically unique and it is our goal to mitigate damages cause by mass removal by establishing long-term protections and solutions that would allow this Louisiana Treasure to continue to exist in their wild natural state for future generations.

“In order to place a group of horses within a context of breeds and origins, we usually rely on three aspects. One is the physical type, a second is the history, and a third is DNA analysis.In the case of the Fort Polk horses, the physical type strongly suggests an Iberian origin. In this geographic location this specific physical type is consistent with an origin in older original horses in the area. This area was heavily influenced by Iberian horses in colonial times. The history of isolation fits with this interpretation, especially because this Iberian physical type is relatively easily disrupted by crossbreeding, so that crossbred or mixed horses rarely have this distinctive physical type. The conclusions of the third portion, DNA analysis, are not yet final, but early results put them in a group with other Iberian-based breeds from the Americas. The overall result is that these horses are remnants of some of the early Iberian horses in this area. This type of horse is now quite rare, and has both historic and biologic importance.”

– D. Phillip Sponenberg, DVM, PhD, ACT (Honorary) | Professor, Pathology and Genetics |Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine  https://pegasusequine.wordpress.com/2018/10/04/preliminary-genetic-analysis-reveals-fort-polk-horses-have-strong-spanish-associations-unique-in-remaining-wild-herds/


Pegasus Equine Guardian Association is a federally recognized 501(c)3 and can receive tax exempt donations. EIN 47-5680770