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Breed Profile: Mustang Explored

Mustangs played a very important role in early American history, and they are still an integral part of the western culture today. The name Mustang comes from the Spanish word mesteŮo or monstenco meaning wild or stray. The breed was used as a bartering chip by many Indian tribes, and they were allowed to roam the country side free. As civilization took its toll on America, the Mustang too began to change. This month, we will take a closer look at these pieces of living history and learn more about where they came from and where they are headed.


Mustang horses first stepped foot on North American soil in the early 1500ís. They were originally Spanish in nature. Native Americanís quickly took to using horses for transportation, and allowed the breed to roam the country side at their leisure. This freedom allowed for quite an array of characteristics when it came to breeding. Different species began to mingle together, to create an entirely new breed of horse.

Civilization threatened the Mustangs, and many were captured or taken in by settlers during battles. Over the course of several years, the Mustangs were forced west by settlements until the free roaming horse was almost extinct. By the 1900ís, there were around two million free roaming horses, and that number dramatically decreased as more and more wild horses were taken in with domesticated packs. It is estimated that by 1926, the number of Mustangs had decreased by 50%.

Todayís Mustang

The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 has done quite a bit to protect the Mustangs that still roam the countryside, but their numbers are still less than 30,000 to date. Other more refined breeds have taken the place in the hearts of many Americanís, but there is a small group of Americanís that holds the idea of the Mustang in high regard.


While there are only a small number of free-roaming mustangs left in the country, there are still a group of individuals that fight for the rights of the breed. An Adopt-a-horse program was created in 1973 that allows these horses another option. Horses and burros are available for adoption at the cost of $125 dollars, and are watched over for up to a year following adoption. If the owner can prove that they are capable of taking care of the animal, and can provide adequate records of care, then they become the legal property of the adopter.

A Rocky Road

The Mustang has had a rough past, but despite it all they are still here. They have survived wars, territory battles, civilization, and a host of other problems and still some 30,000 are alive today. If you are lucky enough to witness a small herd, you canít help but be in awe of their beauty. You can still see some Spanish characteristics despite thousands of years of cross-breeding.






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