Wild Horses

To the Native American, horses were spiritual symbols of endurance, power, and strength. At one time there were no horses in America. It's easy to surmise that when Native American first saw the magnificent beast they were in awe. It was only a matter of time before Native American tribes began catching wild horses and using them for their own means.

It's important to note that wild horses are referred to in the horse world as feral horses - regardless of their ancestry. Feral horses are untamed horses that are free roaming, yet it's interesting to note that these wild horses had ancestors that were at one time domesticated. They were either released or they escaped.

Wild horses live in herds, or bands. In each band there is one dominant female horse, the mare. The band will have many other females and young horses of both sexes, yet there will only be one stallion in the herd. Many bands will allow other mature males to be in the herd, but these male horses generally do not have dominant tendencies.

The Mustang, a popular horse among Native Americans, can still be found roaming in the western United States today. The Mustang has no conformation guidelines and can be in shape, size, or color. This is due to its intermingled bloodlines.

In the late 1680s Spaniards left North America leaving behind thousands of Spanish horses. Many of these horses were quickly captured by the Native Americans. The ones that weren't captured intermingled and mated with horses that escaped or were set free from the whites. Later, ranchers in the west often let their horses roam freely during the winter and these, too, often bred with Mustangs.

Upwards of two million wild mustangs roamed the Western Plains at the beginning of the 20th century. Roughly 17,000 remained by 1970. The reduction in the number of wild horses was a direct result of farmers and ranchers killing the mustangs because they were eating too much grazing land. The United States government eventually passed an act called the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act which allows these horses to roam free and protects them from harm. Since this Act, the number of wild Mustangs has increased and is now hovering around 41,000.

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