About the Breed
The word "Mustang" comes from the Spanish word, mesteno, meaning "stray or ownerless" horse. This term aptly describes all wild horses in the United States. The modern horse evolved over three million years ago and then disappeared from this hemisphere 10,000 years ago. The horse returned to North America when explorers Cortes and DeSoto came mounted on magnificent Barbs from Morocco, Sorraia from Portugal and Andalusians from Spain. The Pueblo Indians learned to ride and passed this skill on to other Indians. In 1680, the Indians revolted against the Spanish rule and the Spaniards left thousands of horses behind in their hasty retreat. The Indians could have rounded up these horses, but chose to let them run wild. It was much easier to raid the Spanish settlements and steal horses. In an effort to stop the Indian raids, the Spanish government shipped a steady flow of mounts to the New World. It was hoped that the Indians would catch the "wild" horses and leave the Spaniards alone. Tens of thousands of the Spanish-bred horses were herded to the Rio Grande and turned loose in a 200-year period. These horses soon met up with draft horses and cowboy ponies that escaped from the ranchers and farmers arriving from the East. Their numbers exceeded two million by the year 1900. Ranchers took to killing these horses to protect the range-land for their cattle. Fewer than 17,000 horses remained by the year 1970. Stating that Mustangs were "living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West," Congress passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act in 1971. An estimated 41,000 Mustangs roam public range today, but few if any have much original Spanish blood.
Mustangs come in all sizes, shapes, colors and types of build. Average size is 14.2 hands but it is not uncommon to see one as short as 13 hands or as tall as 16 hands. The most common color seen is sorrel and bay, but any color is possible. The flashier colors such as Paints, Appaloosas, Palominos, Buckskins and black seem to have been bred out of the breed over the years, but again, it is not uncommon to see those colors.
Nevada's Miss TangTang was born in 1977 in Nevada. At the age of eight months she was adopted by Ellen Nelson of Sunnyvale, Texas. From that early start Tang has grown to be quite a celebrity in her own right. Tang represented the Mustang Horse at the BIG D CHARITY HORSE SHOW held in Texas. In 1992, Tang was featured in Car and Driver Magazine, "Mustang Horse vs. Mustang Car." In 1997 Tang was honored with her own trading card. Aside from just representing the breed, Tang has also been busy on the show circuit. She has won a DAC (Distinguished Achievement Certificate) in Western Pleasure, English Pleasure and Trail. She is the first Mustang to win one DAC much less three. At age 20, Tang still continues to be shown and also to greet the public as a good-will Mustang at BLM adoptions, county fairs and anywhere else the public wants to see her.
Kentucky Horse Park Mustang Troop
The Kentucky Horse Park's Education Department has 24 Mustangs, all from Wyoming, that were adopted through the Bureau of Land Management's Adopt-A-Horse Program. These Mustangs are part of a cooperative effort between the Horse Park, the Lexington Police Activities League and BLM to give inner city Lexington youngsters the opportunity to become horsemen and women and to give wild horses a useful and productive future. The Kentucky Horse Park's Mustang Troop Drill Team has made appearances in the 1997 Presidential Inaugural Parade, at EQUITANA USA in Louisville, Kentucky and the Kentucky Horse Fair.