The family of a rural North Dakota horseman who died this month is raising money to maintain the herd of nearly 200 Nokota horses for which he cared.
WDAY-TV reported Sunday that Leo Kuntz’s family launched a GoFundMe page to raise $50,000 to care for the horses for up to a year while long-term arrangements are made. Kuntz founded the Nokota Horse Conservancy and coined the term for the breed.
The 69-year-old died on Aug. 12 after an accident on an all-terrain vehicle. He was the subject of a 2011 documentary called “NokotaHeart.”
One of Kuntz’s sisters, Felicia Rocholl, said he had only a small balance in his checking account and his family hasn’t found a savings account.
“Leo lived day by day and put all of his money in his horses,” Rocholl said.
Nokota horses were named the honorary state horse in 1993. Kuntz started buying the horses that were removed from Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the late 1970s. An estimated 750 Nokota horses live in the U.S. and Canada.
Rocholl said the family hopes to keep the herd largely intact.
“We’re hoping maybe for a miracle,” she said.
The television station reported that Kuntz at one point had 280 horses but struggled financially to maintain the herd.