Many horse enthusiasts want to acquire their own Mustang. It’s no surprise. The recent popularity of programs like the Extreme Mustang Makeover has brought Mustangs into the limelight and shown what wonderful mounts they can be.
Apart from the wild horses accessible via the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Mustang breeds such of the Spanish, Sulphur, and Kiger are gaining popularity, leading consumers searching for a distinctive and resilient horse to consider these particular breeds.
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But before you go to a BLM adoption event or buy a Mustang from a breeder, it’s important to know that Mustangs are different from other horses. Mustangs raised by the BLM grew reared in the wild, with little or no human interaction. In reality, the majority of BLM horses have been roaming free for centuries. Domestically bred Mustangs, like the Spanish, Sulphur or Kiger, have been domestically raised, but carry the DNA of ancestors who were wild only a few generations before.
All of this adds up to a horse that perceives the world differently from, example, a Quarter Horse or Thoroughbred, whose forefathers coexisted with people for decades.
How to Train Your Mustang
“Mustangs are truly wonderful horses and are highly intelligent,” says trainer Lisa Scebbi of Diamond Elite Training in Norco, Calif., who teaches dressage to both adopted BLM wild horses and Spanish Mustangs. “The major idea with Mustangs is to outwit them rather than overpower them. Because of their enhanced survival instincts, they have a stronger fight-or-flight reaction.”
Although their strong instincts don’t make Mustangs spookier than other horses (in fact, some people find them to be less spooky), they can react strongly in situations when they feel threatened. This may cause green horses to whirl and bolt. When they understand the danger isn’t genuine, most Mustangs recover quickly and calm down.
Close to Nature
Mustangs are very sensitive to their surroundings and might become more reactive at various times of day.
“For instance, because of their survival instinct, Mustangs tend to be a little more sensitive at dusk,” says Scebbi. “Predators are out in the wild at this moment.”
Scebbi avoids exercising the horse after sundown when she initially starts training it.
“I want them to feel at ease working with me,” she explains. “Later in the training, once trust is established, I start working them during those hours.”
Wild Horse Intelligence
Mustangs, because to their wild origin, are also very clever. To live in a harsh environment, horses must learn rapidly, and the brightest horses were those most likely to survive owing to natural selection. Mustangs learn quickly in a training setting due of their intelligence.
Frank Hopkins, a Mustang specialist from the 1800s and the subject of the film Hidalgo, once wrote of the Mustang:
“In the whole equine race, you can’t beat Mustang intellect. For decades, these creatures had to shift for themselves. They didn’t have grooms keeping them out of trouble or trainers showing them what to do. They had to decide their own fate or be exterminated. Some were destroyed in the working out of nature’s survival law. Those that survived were very intelligent creatures. “The Mustang understands what intelligence is.”
Although this intelligence allows Mustangs to learn quickly, it also causes them to get bored rapidly. Drilling a Mustang constantly throughout a training session will result in a horse that is less inclined to work. It also implies that you must be brighter than they are in order to keep their thoughts engaged.
Mustangs are also naturally curious, and often have very active mouths. They are well-known for their ability to untie themselves when they are weary of standing tethered. When bored, they may also become destructive, using their lips and teeth to disassemble and ruin everything they can reach.
Mustangs are undoubtedly clannish because to years of herd life. Mustangs, unlike other domestic breeds, do not consider every horse to be a member of the herd. They form strong attachments to horses they live with and consider part of their family group, and can even become protective of these herd mates, not allowing other horses near them.
Mustangs, whether BLM wild horses or pure strains kept by breeders, are sensitive horses known for their ability to bond with their riders in ways not often seen in other types of horses. Once that link is established, a Mustang will do almost anything for you. Similarly, it may take some time for a Mustang to trust you. The combination of time devoted and regular, fair treatment is the surest road to a Mustang’s heart.
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Audrey Pavia is a freelance writer and the author of Horses for Dummies. Milagro and Rio, two Spanish Mustangs, reside with her.
How are mustangs different from other horses?
The mustang is a free-roaming horse of the American West derived from Spanish horses imported to the Americas. Mustangs are often referred to as wild horses, but because they are descended from once-domesticated horses, they are properly defined as feral horses.
What are wild mustangs good for?
Mustangs breed in the wild and currently face overpopulation issues, so captive breeding programs aren’t in use. These horses are adaptable and have found success in trail riding, ranch work, dressage, and other disciplines.
Are wild mustangs good horses?
They have great stamina and are surefooted, nimble, and resilient. Mustangs have a reputation for intelligence, trainability, and even temperament. Modern day Mustang: The Bureau of Land Management manages and protects wild herds, which now exist in selected areas in Nevada, California, Oregon, Utah, Montana and Wyoming.
Are mustangs faster than regular horses?
Mustangs aren’t very speedy. Quarter horses and thoroughbreds are the world’s quickest horses and dominate the horse racing business, although Arabian horses excel in endurance riding and long distance racing. The typical Mustang travels at a speed of 40 to 48 kilometers per hour (25 to 30 mph).