Despite the fact that every movie and book about the 'Old West', depicts mustangs as a fundamental part of the culture and history of the United States, the horses seen are not native to the continent. The history of horses in North America is fascinating and complicated. The genus equidae seems to have originated in North America fifty million years ago and emigrated out via the land bridge to Asia. Native horses then went extinct around 13,000-8,000 years ago and were not seen on the continent again until they were brought by Europeans. The Native Americans then quickly adopted the animals into their culture and perfected their use.
Palomino Mustang Stallion
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Mammalia
Order - Perissodactyla
Family - Equidae
Genus – Equus
Species – Equus ferus
Common Names – Mustang, palomino
Mustangs are a free roaming feral horse descended from mostly Spanish stock but also from any other breeds of horse that either escaped captivity or were released. As a result of this mixing, mustangs can have a wide variety of coat colors and even body types. Palomino is not a breed of horse but rather a coloration caused by a specific gene that can be present in many different breeds, in fact any breed that has a chestnut variation can produce a palomino. They have a cream colored coat and lighter blonde or even white mane and tail. The same gene in a bay horse will produce a buckskin, which is a cream colored coat with dark mane and tail. Double gene in a chestnut will produce a cremello, which is a cream colored coat with matching mane and tail.
Mustang stallions fight other stallions to control a herd and then mate with the mares. The stronger and smarter a stallion is, the larger and more successful his herd will be. A good stallion will pass on strong genes and protect the entire herd.
Mustangs are smart and sturdy, able to live in often harsh environments where predators such as wolves and cougars are present and sometimes common. There is a great deal of diversity in the breeds represented by mustangs, although the majority of their ancestry is from Spanish horses. Thoroughbreds, draft horses, and gaited horses all add their genes to the mix and their traits can alter how the mustang behaves.
Although horses were returned to North America as early as the end of the 15th century, they did not become an established and self sustaining population until nearly the 17th century.
Since mustangs are feral and not considered a wild species, they are not listed under conservation status, although there have been arguments to reclassify them as wild. There are large populations in Nevada, Wyoming, and Montana, as well as parts of Canada, all of which are managed by the respective governments.
International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN)
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
Bureau of Land Management
Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West by Deanne Stillman
Wild Horses of the West: History and Politics of America's Mustangs by J. Edward de Steiguer
The Winner’s Circle collection includes dozens of elegant horse figures, showcasing distinctive breeds from all over the world. Let these toy horses trot, gallop and canter all over your playroom.