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Use and characteristics of Mustangs
Mustangs are extremely tough and have excellent feet. They also have a very well-developed sense of self-preservation. These are qualities that make them trustworthy trail riding horses, and that's why many people are prepared to adopt or buy a Mustang off the range. Some Mustangs still have the characteristics of their Iberian ancestors, including great stamina and smooth gaits for riding. All these attributes mean that there's always interest in private homes offering to sell a Mustang, as a trained Mustang that has confidence in humans is one of the most reliable horses for the serious rider. Mustangs that have been raised away from the range are called "captive-bred" and can still be recognised as Mustangs.
Origin and history of breeding Mustangs
The name Mustang has its origin in the Spanish word "mesteño" or mestengo, meaning a stray. This is turn derives from the Latin "mixta", meaning mixed. While equus Caballus, the horse, originated on the North American landmass, horses are generally believed to have been extinct there long before Europeans arrived. Columbus introduced horses to the Virgin Islands on his second voyage in 1493 and from there they began to be bred throughout the Caribbean, arriving with the Conquistadores in Mexico in 1519. As successive waves of people from other European countries arrived in America, they brought their own types of horse with them. Many horses escaped or were abandoned, eventually forming large feral herds that were a valuable source of riding horses for both the incomers and the indigenous tribes. The Cerbat horses of Arizona, the Kiger Mustangs of Oregon, the Nokota horses of North Dakota and the Pryor Mountain Mustangs are among those considered to exhibit characteristics of Colonial Spanish American ancestry. In 1971, an act declared the American Mustang an endangered species with legal protection.
Mustang horses in equestrianism
Mustangs are generally strong and healthy due to the natural way they and their ancestors have lived. While there is some variation in height, most average around 14.2hh (58 inches/147 cm). Mustang coats come in many colours, making a herd of Mustangs on the move an unforgettable sight. They often have a distinctive dorsal stripe. Because of their mixed ancestry, the phenotype of Mustangs varies, and so the most appropriate equestrian discipline will depend on the conformation, height and character of each individual. As a general rule, their intelligence and willingness make them great partners for many disciplines. A good Mustang is still one of the best options for trail riding and as a ranch horse.
Feral Mustang dressage star
Padré is living proof that Mustangs can achieve success at a high level, in this instance in the highly competitive world of dressage. Padré won one of the in-hand stallion classes at Dressage at Devon in Pennsylvania in 2010. It's believed his Mustang genes will improve the constitution of domesticated horses.