Passing Of Rancher Leaves Horses In Jeopardy
This is a story of true patriotism, the love for horses and a love for North Dakota.
Leo Kuntz lived in Edmons County and was a horse breeder of the Nokta, which is a breed which dates back 1881 and the war ponies confiscated from Sitting Bull when they surrendered at Fort Buford in Dakota Territory.
According to WDAY, when Kuntz returned from the Vietnam war as a decorated soldier, he was a broken spirit and in pain due to his injuries suffered during the war. A lost soul, Leo discovered the wild horses on Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the Badlands of North Dakota and from that moment, he was taken with the wild spirit of the Nakota.
He never married, but his love affair began with these horses and he dedicated his life to preserving the Nakota. It was a passion of love.
Leo Kuntz with others formed the Nakota Horse Conservancy, a nonprofit working to preserve this historic breed of wild horse.
Later Leo formed the Nokota Horse Preservation Ranch which is recognized as the largest single herd of Nakotas.
Leo Kuntz died Sunday, August 12 from injuries he suffered from crashing his ATV on the ranch days earlier checking on his heard of Kaotas. His death now leaves family and friends trying to make arrangements to save his horses on the ranch. They want to preserve this herd Leo worked so hard to establish and preserve. At the time of Leo's death, he left behind 200 Katoas on his ranch.
There are amazing stories of how animals intervene and save someone's spirit or life. This would be one of these love stories. Leo dedicated his life and his finances to preserve this historic breed of horses and it's important to keep his story and this breed alive.
There are several ways to help in the effort, a benefit fund has been established to help his herd of Nokota horses. Donations can be made to The Leo Kuntz Benefit Fund and sent to The First State Bank, P.O. Box 129, Beach, N.D., 58621.
A documentary film and production were made featuring Leo Kunta and his horses called "Nokota Heart" in 2013.