The Mustang Horse

Pawnee Indians and their Mustang Horses

The Mustang Horse
The Mustang was a small hardy range horse used by the Great Plains Indians descended from horses brought by the Spanish conquistadors. The Mustang became widespread on the prairies and Great Plains of North America. The introduction of the horse by the Europeans led to a period in history of the Great Plains Indian history called the Indian Horse Culture.

The Native Americans had never seen an animal like the horse, nor had they imagined that such an animal could be tamed and used as a means of transport and hunting. The Mustang horse is often called "The Symbol of the American West." The Mustang horse is known for its endurance qualities and athleticism.

The horse was introduced to the North American continent in the 1500's. The horse was at first referred to by the Native American Indians as the “God Dog” or “Big Dog”. The horse and rider team were seen as a godlike being. The Spanish made it illegal for a Native Indian to ride or own a horse, but this changed when the Spanish were driven out of Mexico during the Pueblo Rebellion of 1680. The development of the Mustang horse began...

Mustang Horse Breed - Description
The colors and markings of the Mustang Horse are numerous due to the mixture of so many different breeds but include spotted, roan, solid black, chestnut, bay, palomino, buckskin, dun, silver dapple, pinto. Their height range from 13 to 16 hands. The weight range of a mustang horse varies according to the species, habitat and life style but is normally 700 to 800 lb (320 - 365 kg). The life expectancy of a wild mustang horse is between 15 to 20 years of age.

History of the Mustang Horse Breeds
It is generally agreed that the horse was first introduced to North America  by the Spanish in the 1500's during the conquest of Mexico by the Spanish conquistador, Hernan Cortez (1485 – 1547). The horses brought from Spain were a mixture of Andalusian, Barb and Arabian horse breeds and the Spanish jennet was first introduced by Christopher Columbus. France, under King Louis XIV, began sending horses to Quebec as early as 1665 which were of the Breton and Norman breeds. The English also sent many different breeds with the colonists.

  • The Spanish Jennet was a small pacing horse
  • The Andalusian breed, also known as the Pure Spanish Horse, is strongly built and known for its prowess as a war horse. Andalusia was a region in southern Spain
  • The Barb Horse breed was Developed on the Barbary Coast of North Africa. The Barb is a desert horse with great hardiness and stamina
  • The Arabian horse breed was developed in a desert climate by nomadic Bedouin people. Its versatility, speed, endurance and alertness made it highly suitable as a war horse
  • France under King Louis XIV began sending horses to Quebec as early as 1665 which were of the Breton and Norman breeds and also coach horses called Percheron Postiers
  • Dutch horses included the black Friesian breed

The qualities of these horse breeds, who were the descendants of the American Mustang Horse breed were perfect for riding in the plains and Great Plains and for hunting buffalo. The Mustang Horse was often decorated in Horse War Paint in preparation for battle, as can be seen in the above pictures. The name 'mustang' is derived from the Spanish word 'mesteno' meaning wild or stray.

History of the Mustang Horse - Migration to the North
At first it was difficult for a Native American Indian to acquire a horse but the horses abandoned by the Spanish had gone wild and by the 1700's most of the major Indian tribes had acquired a Mustang horse and had began to move or migrate to the prairies and Great Plains.

Native American Life
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