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Descended from the sixteenth century conquistadors horses, the Mustang
either escaped or was turned loose and subsequently bred and travelled into
North America via Mexico. These wild horses increased in numbers and spread
through many states, by the late eighteenth to early nineteenth century it
was estimated that there were about two million grazing the plains.
Initially the First Nations tribes killed the horses for food but as they
recognised their value as a means of travel they learnt how to handle and
ride them. The Mustang became their favoured mounts, probably because of the
horses ability to survive in a scrub type habitat as they had become
extremely hardy and capable of living on meagre rations.
The first settlers used them to cross with their imported horses and they
were used as the foundation stock of several breeds. The numbers of these
feral herds were greatly reduced with the spread of Western civilisation.
Many were killed others were rounded up and used as cow ponies; these were
later replaced by a more quality class of animal. They suffered more losses
when they were used as remounts during the Boer War and In the twentieth
century even more were slaughtered for meat and pet food and the breed
numbers went further into decline.
Finally in 1971 an act was passed to protect the wild horses in the U.S. and
there are some states where they still live and roam free and it is now
unlikely that they will become extinct.
The Mustang has many different ancestors, the original Spanish stock became
diluted by the different types of stray horses that were lost or abandoned
by the settlers and joined the feral herds. The height is between 13.2 and
15 h.h. It may be any colour. It is often a sturdy build but there are many
variations. The limbs are strong and the feet are hard. It is quite a good
riding horse with great endurance for long distance riding.