Mustang is a derivative of the Spanish word mesteña, which means wild or stray. Horses roamed America 10,000 years ago but vanished from the landscape until the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 16th century with their horses of Barb decent. Many Indian tribes “liberated” horses and brought them further into North America. As America evolved, horses from Europe were imported, and offspring accompanied the settlers moving west. Wild horse bands formed from escaped or abandoned horses. In 1971, the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act was passed protecting Mustangs from slaughter. Congress established Herd Management Areas, and the Bureau of Land Management gathers and offers the excess animals for adoption.
Characteristics: Mustang have no overall characteristics because different breeds of horses have contributed to the development of wild horses in various areas. Draft horses were popular in certain areas among settlers, and hot-blooded horses were more popular in others. Some are large and full-bodied, while others are smaller and daintier in appearance. The abundance of or lack of forage also helps determine size. Horses range from 13 to 16 hands high and are all colors, including black, bay, dun, palomino, gray and spotted.
For more information: Adopt-A-Horse Program, www.wildhorseandburro.blm.gov