Local History & Description
These horses are unbranded and free-roaming, and found on Oak Creek Canyon Ranch range. The consensus is they may possibly be descendants of animals released by or escaped from early ranchers. They do however, have a strong resemblance to the Morgan horse breed.
Though many stories have been passed down through generations here in Tehachapi, California, the exact origin of this herd still remains a mystery.
Kern County was home to several Morgan Horse breeders in the early 1900's. Roland Hill's Tehachapi Cattle Company, bred and raised over 600 Registered Morgan horses. The F.A. Fickert Ranch, now known as Bear Valley Springs, was also a Morgan horse breeder around that same time period. Both ranches were located in Tehachapi, California. As we recently learned from the Bob Powers "Cowboy Country" book, there was also the Landers Cattle Company (Onyx Ranch) that raised registered Morgan horses, Onyx is to the north of Tehachapi. So it appears we were surrounded by Morgan Horse breeders back in earlier times.
According to Wikipedia online: "A Mustang horse is a free-roaming horse of the North American west that first descended from horses brought to the Americas by the Spanish. Mustangs are often referred to as wild horses, but there is debate over terminology. Because they are descended from once-domesticated horses, they can be classified as feral horses."
Whether this herd should be called "wild" or just "feral" horses, is undetermined. Feral horses are said to be born and live in the wild, but were descended from domesticated animals. It isn't possible at this point in time, to determine nor confirm that this herd originated from domesticated horses.
DNA testing was performed on the herd, one small excerpt from the analysis report states: "Based upon oral history and the physical appearance of the horses, the Morgan is a likely ancestor. The similarity of the Morgan horse to the Tehachapi (horse) is very close to the average for this herd to other domestic breeds. At this point the genetic data does not rule the Morgan Horse out as the primary ancestor."
The earliest actual documentation we have found to date, shows that there were range horses in Oak Creek Canyon and further to the west, as far back in 1918. Located in a county recorded document dated 1918, a local rancher by the name of Max Enderle, rounded up 40+ head of his branded range horses and sold them to Roland Hill. In a book by Arnold R. Rojas, "These Were The Vaqueros", the author also mentions Max Enderle, stating that Max and his brother bred horses on their ranch and broke them, and then delivered them to Roland Hill in Tehachapi.
Taking all this into consideration, we believe these horses are most likely of Morgan descent.
All the horses when mature, are black or dark black/brown in color, some have white socks or stockings, and may have a white star on their forehead.
The height of these horses ranges from approximately 14 to 14.3 hands, and rarely reach 15 hands.
(A horses height is measured in "hands". (1 hand = 4"), the average width of a human hand.)