Mustangs are some of the most widely recognized horses in the world. Yes, the Mustang car is named after these muscular and imposing horses. They stand at 14-15 hands tall, which is equal to 50-60 inches, and they generally weigh up to 800 pounds. They’re descended from domesticated Spanish horses brought by the Spaniards to the Americas in the 16th century.
Today, I have a list of 6 types of mustang horses to whet your appetite. Each is unique in its own way, with specific characteristics that tell a different story. The common point between all of them is their ancestry, a reminder of times long past. Let’s not waste any more time and get on with it!
1. Cerbat Mustang
We’ll start with the Cerbat Mustang, one of the purest descendants of Spanish horses brought to North America in the 16th century. These horses live in herds up on inhospitable peaks and ridges, around canyons, surrounded on all sides by desert and chaparral. Temperature averages reach zero degrees midwinter and over 100 degrees in the summer.
Such rough living conditions have forced these mustangs to either adapt or die. They chose the former, with all present Cerbat Mustangs being very muscular, agile, and endurant. That’s why their most common use today is for endurance riding, roping, cattle work, team penning, eventing, and ranch work.
Physically, Cerbat Mustangs are similar to the Andalusian breed and other Spanish horse breeds. Primary colors are bay, chestnut, or roan, though you may find blacks, grays, and duns in Arizona. They’re quite rare, either way. Interestingly enough, Cerbat foals are born roan, unlike most other foals of other breeds that are born black and then they become roan as they grow.
In the 19th century, Cerbat herds were large enough to warrant a lot of attention. But in 1971, a large portion of Cerbat Mustangs was shot by ranchers during a severe drought. During that time, 18 Cerbats were successfully captured and put in private herds. Then, in 1990, the Bureau of Land Management made another discovery – another population of wild Cerbats that had the same bloodline as the captured ones.
At present, around 45 Cerbat Mustangs are officially registered, with 70 specimens living on the US Bureau of Land Management’s Horse Management Area.
2. Chincoteague Pony
If Shaggy would turn into a horse, this would be it. Chincoteague Ponies are the very definition of shaggy and scraggly. This species originates from the herds of wild ponies that were roaming the Assateague Island hundreds of years ago. They were believed to come from forage horses of early settlers. But the evidence clearly points to them being the survivors of a Spanish galleon wreckage. At least that’s what most people believe.
This breed became official in 1994. Before, they had no clear name, and people just called them ponies. They are 12-13 hands tall, with short and sturdy legs, large bellies, thick manes, and a shaggy countenance. Despite the rough diet on the Assateague Island, these ponies adapted their eating habits.
Saltwater cordgrass is their main food course, which they find in marshes. Due to the high salt content of this cordgrass, Chincoteague Ponies drink twice as much water as any other horse breed. Now you see why their bellies are so round and large.
These ponies gather in small groups called bands, consisting of mares following a male stallion. The stallion breeds with all the mares that follow him, in an act of dominance. Chincoteague Ponies are all about dominance in their small societies. The more dominant and combative a stallion is, the more mares he’ll have. Other stallions won’t be able to compete with him.
3. Colonial Spanish Mustang
This horse breed descended from the horses of Spanish conquistadors, and they were brought to the New World straight from Spain. The South America and West Indies breeding farms also contributed to their great number in the New World. Only the finest mares and stallions would come during the explorations of the New World, due to a royal order from the king and queen.
Already by 1500, the New World had many breeding ranches that were producing the finest horses for nobility. Among their numbers were those of Arabian, Andalusian, and Spanish blood. As for how the Colonial Spanish Mustangs reached North Carolina, some theories suggest a shipwreck as the probable cause. Or that the horses were left behind after a colony was abandoned.
Colonial Spanish Mustangs have a rich history behind them but one thing stands strong – their great sense of self-preservation and gentle dispositions. They’re a very sturdy breed that can withstand any contest or equine event, which makes them very popular. They’re also very small (about 14 hands tall), making them at a near-pony level of height. Most specimens are around 700-800 pounds, though.
These horses are import horses with ties to the conquistador explorations. That’s why this breed isn’t exactly uniform in its physical characteristics. Some individuals have elongated or short and deep heads with straight or concave foreheads. Their muzzles are fine with even teeth and small, crescent-shaped nostrils. Their hooves are small, and their legs are strong.
4. Kiger Mustang
The most beautiful mustang in the world, Kiger is a breed loved by all for its golden coat and thick mane and tail. This breed is an American icon already, one of the most sought-after horse breeds during BLM adoptions. You’ll only find Kiger Mustangs in southeastern Oregon, but not in great numbers. Ever since its official discovery, this mustang has been very rare due to its scarce population.
What makes the Kiger Mustang special is that it comes from wild horses and not domesticated ones. Its instincts, agility, strength, and muscular appearance are all pure and untouched by human hands. This is a truly superior horse with plenty of extraordinary qualities. Even movie studios use this breed as a horse model in many blockbusters.
Kiger stallions and mares are of average height (13.2 to 15.2 hands), with a muscular and compact body that extends into a deep chest and a short back. The neck is especially thick and muscular, with a well-matched nozzle and mane. It’s a very agile, calm, courageous, and energic breed with high intelligence. Anyone can train a Kiger Mustang in a matter of weeks.
The horses are generally dun, but black, roan, red dun, bay, Grulla, and even claybank are also valid colors of Kiger Mustangs. But all specimens must have a shade of dun to fit the bloodline. Even if the primary color is not dun, a Kiger horse can have dun armbars, eye bars, leg barring, lacing, cob webbing, ventral dorsal, or black outlines around the ears.
5. Pryor Mountain Mustang
Pryor Mountain has been the breeding place of mustangs for a little over 200 years. Even today, wild horses can be found roaming about the place. It’s said that the Pryor Mountain Mustang is one of the few direct descendants of Colonial Spanish horses brought over by the Spanish during the conquistador explorations. In Montana, Pryor Mustangs are the only remaining herd that remains untouched by the world, mostly.
The Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 protect this breed, while the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) takes care of the remaining 120 herds. Their genetic material is unique in the world, with low inbreeding events and a high degree of genetic diversity. Their ambling gait, small stature, and sure-footedness make them great horses for expositions, sports events, and contests.
Pryor Mountain Mustangs are 13-15 hands tall, 700-800 pounds heavy, with many primary colors (chestnut, bay, black, red roan, grullo, dun, and blue). This horse has a heavy body and strong bones, fit for a real mustang that grew in rough conditions. Its head is convex, with eyes, hooked ears, and a broad forehead. Its hooves are very large and hard, making the Pryor Mountain Mustang great for high-endurance events.
These mustangs are among the few specimens that have a natural ambling gait as soon as they’re born. Intelligent, sure-footed, and strong, they’re truly magnificent when viewed from up close. As soon as they bond with a human, they’ll be very friendly and well-disposed toward their caretakers.
6. Spanish Mustang
Few horses are as renowned, tough, or beautiful in the world. Spanish Mustangs draw their origins from the horses of the Spanish explorers during the conquistador explorations. Cortes and even Columbus brought the first Spanish horses in the New World on the order of the Crown. Breeding farms were created all over the New World, with cattle, sheep, livestock, and horses.
Alas, the Apaches had other plans for these horses that were kept domesticated. They began stealing them and spreading them across the west. As soon as they laid their eyes on these magnificent animals, they knew they had to have them. Some tribes traded the horses to other tribes, others lost their plunder and some horses had gone feral after being abandoned.
Eventually, Spanish Mustang populations had begun to number in the hundreds of thousands, with most being kept by Indian tribes. At the time, the Spanish Mustang had the reputation of the most distinct horse in the New World, and not only. Even its descendants, today, retain most of the physical characteristics and behavioral markers that made the Spanish Mustang a legend.
American history wouldn’t be what it is today without the Spanish Mustang, in fact.
Mustangs are a perfect choice, whether you want a calm and intelligent horse or an agile, endurable, and wild-looking specimen. These fine horse breeds aren’t famous for nothing. They’re sturdy, beautiful with a glorious physical shape, a muscular and well-toned body, and a legendary mane. That’s what makes a mustang superior to other horse breeds.
If you have other questions, feel free to leave them below!Horse Breeds