The Big Summit Herd

Big Summit Herd Management Area

Lookout Mountain Ranger District – Ochoco National Forest

LOCATION: The herd area is about 30 miles east of Prineville in the Ochoco National Forest.

ACREAGE: Over 27,000 acres

ELEVATION/LANDMARKS: Elevation ranges from 4,000 to over 7,000 feet. Climate varies from cold, snowy winters to hot summers.

TOPOGRAPHY/VEGETATION: Area is timbered country with an herbaceous understory characterized by both heavily timbered country and open meadows divided by perennial and intermittent stream channels with numerous springs.

WILD LIFE: A large array of wildlife exists in the territory from deer mouse to big game animals like deer and elk; a variety of birds from woodpeckers to raptors can be found as well as predators like bear and cougar.

HERD SIZE: 55 to 65 head

HORSE COLORS: Typically bay/brown with some white markings, also black, sabino paint and palomino

SIZE OF HORSES: 800 to 1000 pounds, 13-15 hands

GENERAL HISTORY: The first wild horses were thought to have originated on the Ochocos in the early part of the 20th century, according to local residents. Horses either escaped from, or were let loose by various ranchers in the vicinity.  However, recent genetic testing has linked the Ochoco Mustangs to Iberian and Andalusian stock, leaving much to be discovered about their true heritage.


We will try to list specifics of the individual horses – when available:

Spotted Filly

We think she was just born that morning.  7-9-2009

First picture was 8-11-09, one month old. Second picture 9-4-09, almost two months old. Third and fourth picture taken 10- 16-09, three months old. Next pictures taken 2-24-10.

These last pictures were taken the last time we went riding. We hadn’t seen any of them since the Forest Service opened the gate behind the ranger station and let them out, which was the February pictures. We went riding the 17th of April, up in some really steep country, and found them.


Gold Dust

The first photo was taken 7-15-05, we figure a few days old.   We didn’t see him again after July 2007 –  the young studs usually get kicked out of the herd as 2 year olds.

He showed up that winter on private property, reportedly had jumped over a fence and into a 600 acre pasture with four domestic horses, and proceeded to stay for the winter, getting fed hay right along with them.

The summer of 2009 we spotted Gold Dust again, he was again on private property. The Forest Service captured him and took him to Burns, where I went up to see him up close for the first time. July 14, 2009, right around his 4th birthday. BLM had an open adoption at the corrals in Burns on August 1st, and I adopted him and brought him home. In October we took our first ride back up in the Ochocos, where he got to see some possible relatives. He has been back up there a few more times, and we are both looking forward to a spring and summer of many miles together, maybe even seeing his mom and dad, and his little brother again. by Connie Baker




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