Spanish mustangs are among the few wild horses that still roam freely in the wild nature of North America today. This rare breed is on the brink of extinction, with only 3000 specimens alive. These Mustangs are immensely hardy animals who historically were legendary in their ability to travel great distances without any injuries, and they were an integral part of the Spanish success in the New World. It can be easy to mix this breed with the American Mustang due to their similar features, but they differ in appearance and character.
Spanish Mustangs, also known as colonial Spanish horses, are hardy descendants of the first Spanish horses from the Iberian Peninsula. They were first developed on the Caribbean Islands and in Mexico during the time of the conquistadors in the 16th century. From the Spanish horses brought to America by the conquistadors, these colonists worked towards getting well-trained and easy-bred horses.
A lot of the purebred Spanish mustangs either escaped, were let free, or were abducted by Indian tribes who sold them to tribes up in the Rocky Mountains and up to the northern parts of America. Hence, the breed spread widely across America, both in domestic and free-range stocks. This made it the most common type of horse throughout Southeast America and Mississippi for centuries. However, due to competition with the Spanish horses, considered the finest horses in the world, the breeding of Spanish Mustangs almost ended. During the 1900s, they were virtually extinct.
Thanks to Robert Brislawn, the Spanish Mustang Registry was started in 1957. It is a conservation program to prevent the extinction of the breed. Due to their great historical importance, 20 purebred Spanish Mustangs were registered, and today, that amount has increased to 3000, representing their entire equine race.
With its Spanish blood shining through, this horse is beloved for its noble appearance. It draws attention to itself with proportional muscles, small and upright hooves, a short back, and a straight nose bridge. They are well-rounded warmbloods in every color, and when viewed from the front, they appear narrow instead of stocky.
Their front legs meet the chest in the shape of an A rather than a U-shape, which differs from stock horse breeds, which usually have a U-shape. From behind, they have a low-set tail, and the hip’s muscling extends upwards, making the backbone their highest point.
Some of the Spanish Mustang’s qualities are inherited genes from its time as a wild horse, such as its exquisite durability and ability to survive on minimal resources. They can be somewhat stubborn but have an even temperament. They possess a kind heart, mustang intelligence, and loyalty, making them elementary learners prone to form strong bonds with their owners.
This breed is a treasure chest of genetic wealth with its genetic diversity; therefore, according to the Spanish Mustang Registry, it is forbidden to register a Spanish Mustang if it has an admixture of other blood. The breed has become endangered because only a few dedicated breeders can obtain a purebred Spanish Mustang stallion and mare.
- Height: 13.2-15.1hh
- Temperament: Intelligent, tough
- Colors: A range of colors, including gray, black, bay, and chestnut.
- Conformation: Narrow faces, deep-bodied, strong
Today, the Spanish Mustang contains mostly feral herds who live in wild-animal habitats. Some wild horses are tamed and become excellent riding horses due to their athleticism. With its calm yet proud nature, fantastic work ethic, and versatility, the Spanish Mustang is suitable as an all-round horse. You can practice various riding disciplines such as trail riding, dressage, racing, western riding, more accessible jumping courses, long-distance riding, ranch work, the academic art of riding, and so much more with this unique horse breed.
5. 5 Facts About the Spanish Mustang
- Gaited: Spanish Mustangs have a surprisingly long stride; many are often gaited (as were their Spanish ancestors). This means they have an extra pace, the paso gait, besides running walk, single foot, amble, and speed.
- Extinct in Spain: Although they are called Spanish Mustangs with their Spanish ancestry, this breed is mostly or wholly extinct in Spain.
- Royal Breed: The name “Colonial Spanish horse” (another name for Spanish mustangs) indicates that the breed was more or less royally crucial in the country at some point during the centuries.
- Frank Hopkins Rode Spanish Mustangs: A cowboy and endurance rider, Hopkins was famous for riding Spanish Mustangs and winning a 3000-mile long-distance race with his Mustang Hidalgo in 1890.
- State Horse: Several states in America, such as North Carolina, have recognized the Spanish Mustang as their state horse, and in 2013, Oklahoma declared the breed its official heritage horse.