Mustang Horse Breeds 2022- Facts, Types & Characteristics


The term ‘Mustang’ was applied primarily to the feral or semi-feral horses of the plains of western America but has been extended to include the herds on the pampas of South America as well. The derivation of the word is from the Spanish mestengo, meaning ‘stranger’, which in turn comes from the Spanish mesta, the name given to associations of graziers, one of whose functions was the appropriation of wild cattle which had attached themselves to the tame herds.

Like the word, the horse in historic times in America is of Spanish origin, and the animals that Cortés brought over from Cuba in 1519 were the first true horses ever to be seen in the New World. When the ‘caballeros’ of Cortés charged them, the Aztecs thought the gods had come down to earth and fled in terror; and it is no exaggeration to say that without the horse Cortés could not have conquered Mexico or Pizarro, later, Peru.

Other horses were introduced later by the Spaniards into Florida, by Ponce de Leon, and by De Soto, Coronado, and others, into the unknown hinterland of North America west of the Mississippi, becoming in due course Texas, Arizona, Colorado, etc. There is a complete list of the horses of Cortés, which indicates that these, and by inference the later imports, were of Spanish blood, going back to Saracen (Arabian and Barb) ancestry.

During the adventures and misadventures of the conquistadors, many of their horses strayed or were captured by the Indians, and it is from them there grew, multiplying in a surprising manner in the three centuries up to 1819 (less than a hundred generations), the vast herds or feral and half-tamed horses which roamed the great plains at the beginning of the American pioneering times, and which made the Native American the superb natural horsemen that he was and is.

To all these animals the comprehensive name of Mustang is given.

There were various types within this term, the best being that known as the Indian Pony, a product of Indian breeding and selection. The term ‘bronco’ (from the Spanish word meaning rough and rude), originally applied to the wildest and most untameable Mustangs – hence the phrase ‘bronco busting – has now come to apply to all these types equally with Mustangs.


The original Mustang was a small horse, seldom more than 14.2 hands in height and from 600-800lb in weight. In common with all these small utility breeds, whether in the East or in the West, they were nothing much to look at, scraggy and rough, of uncertain temper, but hardy and courageous, and apparently built of cast iron.

Occasional throwbacks to their original remote Arabian ancestry were known to appear, becoming legendary figures for their outstanding size, beauty, and speed. Every known color was represented and many strange shades and combinations, of which again only the East has the like to show. Once broken and domesticated the Mustang was a useful light-saddle horse and was the original cow pony.

Today the true Mustang has been largely succeeded by the modern range horse, the result of the crossing of a diversity of strains – Thoroughbred, Arab, Standard, Morgan, Quarter, and others. Though this may be true as a general statement, the plain-looking and rough and workmanlike horse of the true Mustang type does still exist, remaining useful, if at the time very wild, the servant he always was, and it is good to feel that this is so, thus retaining the old-time romance of the Wild West.

By no manner of means is the cowboy of today mounted on beautiful Palominos, or flashily marked Pintos, as American films would often have us believe. It is worth noting here in connection with cowponies that the Arab on account of the soundness of its legs, is increasingly used for cutting out cows on the ranch.

The Mustang has featured much in the annals of the plains, and certainly in fiction and film. Because of this, a certain romance has been built around the breed, and it is hoped that its existence will justify a continuance of this.

Mustang horse breed is a good horse. Continue your reading to learn more about pet & animal facts, types and history.

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