Mustang

There is something majestic and untamed about Mustangs.

They are the ‘wild’ horses of North America that have roamed free for centuries.

There is a mystique and allure to these animals, which is why they continue to capture our imaginations.

So what exactly is there to know about Mustangs? Keep reading to find out!

Mustang Breed Info

Here are some of the key things you need to know about the Mustang:

Height (size) 14.0 – 15.0 hands high
Colors Bay, chestnut, but also black, gray, pinto, roan, and palomino colors occur
Country of Origin United States of America
Common Uses Trail and leisure riding, for working on the ranch, Western events

Mustang Facts & Information (Breed Profile)

The Mustang is a free-roaming horse native to the American West.

Although they have the reputation of being “wild,” Mustangs are essentially feral because they derived from Spanish domestic horses that were transported to the Americas in the 16th century by Spanish explorers, and later escaped or let free.

It was these horses that revolutionized the way of life for the Native Americans who lived on or around the Great Plains.

The name originates from two Spanish terms, “mestengo” and “mostrenco”, both of which mean “wild or masterless cattle”.

Even though the original bloodline of these horses was likely either Spanish or descended from Spanish stock, through time they bred with other types of horses.

As European settlers moved westward, they brought their horses with.

Some of them were taken by the Indians during their raids, others were released free when wild stallions tore down fences in order to add the tame mares to their herd, and yet others were tame horses escaped from the settlers, much like the original horses had done when they escaped from the Spanish conquistadors.

There were some horses of draft breeding that were added to the Mustang herds.

Also, the Indians traded and stole horses between tribes, resulting in a more extensive distribution.

The expansion of the eastern United States led to the migration of wild horse herds westward, and these herds finally made their way west of the Mississippi River to join the herds that roamed the western states.

French blood was added to the mix as a result of herds being forced out of the Detroit area and as a result of French settlers in the southern United States, namely in the region surrounding New Orleans.

The old-type East Friesian is another breed that is likely mixed with Mustangs.

The United States government imported around 150 stallions from Germany on an annual basis for more than a decade, beginning in the late 1800s and continuing into the early 1900s.

At that time, those horses, known as a heavy warmblood or coach horse, were acquired to haul artillery or big wagons.

Therefore, wherever the United States Cavalry was stationed during fights in the west, these horses were also there.

Undoubtedly, some of these horses managed to escape, and their genes eventually became mixed up with those of the American Mustang.

Before the western United States were established and cattle and other grazing animals were introduced to the natural range, big herds of wild horses did not provide a significant issue.

However, this changed after people began to settle and raise other grazing animals.

The dry soils of the western United States were unable to sustain a large number of grazing animals, and as a result, on certain ranches, it became standard practice to shoot the Mustangs.

Because there aren’t enough predators, like wolves, to naturally manage the Mustang horse population, the population may grow quickly without any help from humans, states the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH).

Estimates put the number of wild Mustangs at two million around the turn of the twentieth century.

By 1926, the population had dropped by half.

During the 20th century, the population of Mustangs saw a precipitous drop due to the widespread hunting and capture of the horses for a variety of purposes, including the production of meat for both humans and dogs.

The Wildlife Society, which focuses on wildlife management and conservation, classifies feral horses and burros as invasive species. Invasive species are non-native animals that are harmful to native wildlife or to the local economics.

Overgrazing and trampling of plants are two ways in which horses and burros negatively impact local native animals and their habitats, according to the Wildlife Society.

The fact that they have to share the land with wild horses is a source of contention for cattle farmers as well.

Some organizations, such as the American Wild Horse Campaign, say that Mustangs and burros should be allowed on the public lands and that the government should employ contraceptive treatments to reduce their population as required.

The number of Mustangs and burros living on public lands is kept under control by the United States Bureau of Land Management, which rounds them up, holds them, and then makes them available for adoption.

The horses are given access to 26.9 million acres (10.9 million hectares) of public land to roam freely.

There are ten herd management regions throughout the states of Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana-Dakotas, New Mexico, Oregon-Washington, Utah and Wyoming.

The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 protects Mustangs and burros on public lands today.

Members of Congress honored them as “living symbols of the history and pioneer spirit of the West.”

This statute also enabled them to be regulated and controlled.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture are in charge of enforcing this law.

Mustangs may be adopted from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for a fee ranging from $125 to $5,000.

A wild horse that has been partially tamed may be adopted for a starting fee of $125, while untrained horses can be adopted for $25.

The price of a Mustang might vary depending on factors such as the amount of training the horse has had, their gender, and their age.

Those that have been brought straight from the wild and have not been touched or gentled to ‘break the old behaviors’ will require a long time to learn how to live with people and establish trust.

That is why the Mustang is not a good choice for novice riders or adopters.

Domesticating a horse takes time, and even then the animal will still be wary and startle quickly.

The only way to ensure that this does not happen is to put the animal through a thorough and appropriate training program.

America’s Mustang program estimates that there are presently more than 70,000 wild Mustangs in the United States.

If you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating breed, keep reading!

Alternative Names

“American Mustang”

Temperament/Personality

They are intelligent, and once tamed they are gentle

Physical Characteristics

The head is refined with a tapering muzzle, and the eyes are set further on the sides of their heads compared to other breeds.

The neck is crested. The forelocks and manes are thick and the tail is set low.

The shoulder is long and sloping, and the girth is deep.

The legs are sound, and the hooves are strong and healthy.

They are very hardy and surefooted.

Colors

Bay, chestnut, but also black, grey, pinto, roan, and palomino colors occur

Height (size)

14.0 – 15.0 hands high

Stallions

n/a

Mares

n/a

Weight

Up to 1,000 pounds (460 kg)

Blood Type

Warm

Common Uses

Trail and leisure riding, for working on the ranch, Western events

Health

Generally healthy

Popular Traits

Feral horses who are very tough, surefooted, and hardy.

They have a distinctive freeze BLM brand on the left side of the neck.

Feeding/Diet

n/a

Country of Origin

United States of America

Ancestors

Spanish colonial horses, draft horses, Thoroughbred, Ostfriesen/Alt-Oldenburger