|Southwest Spanish Mustang Association
"Heritage Horse of Oklahoma"
|Preserving The Purest
In Existence Today
|Someone Your Should Know - Bryant Rickman, SSMA Chairman
Article in Hugo Daily News - By Gloria McAfee Carver
By Gloria McAfee Carver/ Contributing Writer - Hugo Daily News
Bryant Rickman is someone you should know. As a country boy growing up
on a farm and ranch in southeast Oklahoma, he and his siblings reveled in
riding their Spanish Mustang horses through hilly terrain, and to te lake to swim
It never entered his mind that in time, he, along with his family and friends
would become renowned as preservationists of the Spanish Mustangs that ran
wild and free on Blackjack Mountain. As a young adult, Rickman set out to
assure that the disappearing herds would never become extinct.
Rickman is a 1965 Hugo High School graduate, whose favorite class was
Agriculture Education. This influenced his choice of a teaching career as the
Vocational Agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at his home school, from 1970
to his retirement in 2002.
Rickman is a husband, father, and grandfather, who value’s his community.
“Something I will always treasure, from those 30 years working with the youth, is
the way the community supported the 4-H Club and FFA programs. I also truly
appreciate the involvement of the Rotary Club. I served one year as president
and have been a member for over twenty years,” Rickman said.
about the horses, and keep a high, public profile at home on the ranch; at roping events, trail rides and endurance races.
Rickman’s name is associated with the former Gilbert Jones, of Medicine Springs, who established the Southwest Spanish
Mustang Association, (SSMA) in 1977, and worked to insure the preservation of the genetic and cultural equine treasure by
maintaining foundation herds. To the thrill of SSMA supporters, the horses were officially recognized on March 5, 2014, by
Oklahoma State Government at the capitol as, “The Heritage Horse of Oklahoma”.
Rickman’s devotion to the hardy mustangs began as a child, “The family rode mustangs as far back as I can remember,” he
said. “We started out with “Old Pearl” pulling a wagon, then “Old Bird”; we raised a lot of colts with her. “Old Bird” was a
‘house hold name’ because we rode her everywhere, and did the same with “Old Chris”. They all lived to be in their 30’s.”
“I remember Gilbert Jones saying that, ‘…someday these little horses will get the recognition and credit they deserve…’ I
remember well, because as a kid I was always apologizing that my horses were smaller than others,” Rickman said.
The wild horse’s history is, ‘survival of the fittest’ in the rough and rocky Oklahoma Mountains; they fared well because of it.
The Spanish Mustangs of today performs successfully at a variety of equine competition. Rickman said the horses have a
good heart and disposition that make good, gentle family pets.
Prior to Gilbert Jones’ commitment to the Spanish Mustangs that made the journey in the 19th century, with the Choctaw
people from Mississippi to Indian Territory, was the man Frank Hopkins. According to research, Hopkins rode the Spanish
Mustangs and was known as a ‘tough as nails’ pony express and endurance race rider.
The 2004 movie about Hopkins and Hidalgo is set in 1890, a tale of a down-and-out cowboy. Hopkins, and his horse,
Hidalgo, a Spanish Mustang from Indian Territory, travel to Arabia to compete in a deadly cross desert endurance horse
Resources say that Hidalgo has decedents living in Oklahoma today. The Walt Disney Company featured film clips,
promoting the movie on the television show, Animal Planet, entitled “America’s First Horse”. Some of the last scenes were
filmed at Medicine Springs Ranch on Blackjack Mountain.
According to research, the screen writer of the movie, “Hidalgo”, heightened the "based on" true stories to make it more
adaptable for a big movie. Some say Hopkins never accomplished everything shown in the movie, but he was, for a fact, a
famous endurance rider and activist for the preservation of the Spanish Mustang horses.
To learn more about these Spanish Mustangs, and how to become involved in the ongoing conservation program, contact
Bryant Rickman at (580.743.1991) or the website:
Or, Harold Davis (580.579.3143) or website: www.southwestspanishmustangassociation.com.