Meet The Real Horse That Inspired Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

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Many of us have grown up watching the beloved movie Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. However, did you know that Spirit was inspired by a real-life horse?

Equestrians of all ages have awed over the beautiful animated Mustang stallion that was the star of the 2002 hit movie.

The inspiration for the beloved stallion comes from a real-life Kiger Mustang named Spirit. The artists and animators for the movie used Spirit as a model to create the film’s main character.

Also read: 4 Things You Didn’t Know About Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron

About The Real Life Spirit Horse

Real Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron horse at age 24Real-life Spirit at age 24

When producers got together to create Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, they were wanting things to be more realistic than most animated movies. In order to do so, they needed a real life horse for inspiration.

After searching, they found a young Kiger Mustang that went by the name Donner, before being known as Spirit.

The lovely colt had been born to a stallion and mare that were caught by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) in Oregon.

His father was the foundation stallion, Steens Kiger, who was the first horse admitted to the Steens Mountain Kiger Registry studbook. Spirit himself is listed in the Steens Mountain Kiger Registry as ‘Donner of Steens Mountain’.

Spirit’s expressive, wide-set eyes, dun coat, and stunning multi-colored mane and tail became the image of the animated horse we all know and love today. He was the perfect model for creating the fictional character of Spirit.

Before the release of the movie in 2002, animators spent hours upon hours studying and observing Spirit. They watched his muscle movement, gaits, expressions and mood changes. All of this was helpful for the animation team to create a life-like animated horse.

Spirit real horse Kiger Mustang photo with the film directorSpirit with film directors Kelly Asbury and Lorna Cook

Spirit’s Life At Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary

After the movie production was finished, Spirit was moved to Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary where he spends his time in beautiful lush pastures. He posed for animators at Dreamworks for a total of almost two decades.

Dreamworks chose to make Return to Freedom Spirit’s forever home to ensure the Mustang could raise awareness for wild horses.

He lives at the facility’s headquarters in Santa Barbara County California. The beautiful facility is set across 300 acres of pastures where wild horses can freely roam.

Spirit’s Work as an Ambassador for Kiger Mustangs

Currently, Spirit is the ambassador for the Kiger Mustang breed. He helps educate the public about America’s wild horses and the protection and freedom they need.

Just like his movie character, Spirit fights to help Mustangs keep their natural habitat and run freely across the American wilderness.

Those who know the beautiful dun say he has the same spunk and heart as his animated counterpart.

Due to his fame, he attracts people to Return to Freedom who are eager to see him and learn more about Mustangs.

Real-life Horse Spirit was based

He loves to interact with people and has been inspiring people to make a difference. In 2018, he was inducted into Horse Stars Hall of Fame by the EQUUS Foundation.

Spirit recently celebrated his 25th birthday. The Mustang received heartfelt messages from screenwriter John Fusco and animation director Lorna Cook of Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. He even got a birthday visit from award-winning actress Rosario Dawson.

Today, Spirit enjoys spending time out to pasture with his equine friends and receiving attention from the staff at Return to Freedom.

He continues to raise awareness and educate people all over the world about the importance of protecting and preserving America’s wild horses.

About the Kiger Mustang Horse Breed

Kiger Mustangs are native to southwest Oregon, where two herds are managed by the BLM. DNA testing proved that they are descendants of Spanish horses that were brought to America by Conquistadors.

Kiger Mustang wild horse breed

Kiger Mustangs stand between 13.3-15.2 hands and typically weigh between 700-800 pounds. The majority of Kiger Mustangs are dun, but they can also be bay, black, grullo, roan, and red dun.

They are known for their beautifully crested necks, short backs, medium clean-cut heads, and strong legs.

Thanks to their intelligence, calmness, and willingness to please, they are easy to train. Kigers have wonderful endurance, stamina and are sure-footed, which made us include them in our best trail riding horse breeds guide.

Kiger Mustangs are a true American treasure and Spirit is a great representation of this wonderful breed.

Be sure to check out Return to Freedom to learn more about what they do to protect and save America’s wild horses.

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6 Most Common Cat Health Problems

Cats are good at self-maintenance. But even your fastidious feline can’t prevent some of these more common cat diseases and health issues.

1. Vomiting

Vomiting is a very common problem with cats with a multitude of causes. They range from eating something poisonous or inedible (like string), to infection, urinary tract disease, or diabetes to hairballs.

2. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases (FLUTD)

TSome estimates say as many as 3% of cats seen by vets have feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), which is actually a group of feline diseases with multiple causes.

  • List bellow:
    • Drinking more
    • Straining to urinate
    • Bloody urine
    • Urinating in unusual places
    • Crying when urinating
    • Licking around the urinary area (often because of pain)

3. Fleas

  • Fleas are a very common external feline health problem. But it’s one you can easily treat. Signs your cat has fleas include:
    • Flea dirt on its skin (they look like tiny black dots)
    • Constant scratching
    • Frequent licking
    • Red or irritated skin
    • Hair loss
    • Skin infections or hot spots

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