What are the defining characteristics of a mustang horse?

What are the defining characteristics of a mustang horse?

Versatile, hardy, and intelligent, there’s a lot to love about the mustang. This authentic American breed has a deep history and may make a fantastic riding companion with appropriate training.

Breed Overview

Weight: 800 pounds

Height: 14 to 15 hands

Body Type: Stocky and hardy

Best For: Trail riding and ranch work

Life Expectancy: Up to 40 years

Mustang Horse History and Origins

Mustangs now roam freely in the western United States. They were descended from Spanish horses introduced to the land by European immigrants. Some of the horses fled or were released, while others were traded for or seized by Native Americans.

Escaped horses formed herds and lived wild, gradually being pushed West by encroaching development of the country. The resulting wild mustang population grew, but as the country was increasingly settled and ranchers sought out land to graze cattle on, the increased population became a problem. There were up to two million mustangs in the United States in the early 1900s. It is believed that 30,000 mustangs remain in the wild today.

The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act helped to protect mustangs from being hunted, poisoned, and harassed, but it also caused the population to grow again. To assist regulate the population, the Bureau of Land Management has began gathering up and adopting out mustangs.

Mustang Horse Size

Mustangs are tiny horses that reach 14 to 15 hands tall and weigh about 800 pounds.

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Breeding and Uses

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.

Colors and Markings

Mustangs are available in a variety of coat colors. Many are bay and chestnut, but black, grey, pinto, roan, and palomino coat colors also occur.

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La Waziya Photography / Getty Images / Stefania Pelfini
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Unique Characteristics of the Mustang

Because of its untamed background, the mustang is recognized for being tough and surefooted. These qualities make mustangs ideal as working horses and trail horses, since they can navigate terrain that other breeds might struggle with.

Diet and Nutrition

Mustangs are tough. They live in the wild by eating grass and bushes. As a result, they are relatively easy keepers in captivity. An owner may need to restrict a mustang’s access to lush pasture, since overgrazing can result in obesity and related problems, like founder.

Common Health and Behavior Problems

Mustangs are hardy and are known for having strong, healthy hooves. They are usually fairly healthy.

Mustang behavior varies based on the horse’s history and amount of training. A mustang that has been picked up and adopted out without much care is likely to be reactive and skittish. With adequate training and time to acquire confidence in people, mustangs may be calm and well-mannered.


Mustangs have no special grooming requirements. Regular grooming and currying will help their coat health. Although they have powerful hooves, they also need frequent hoof care.


  • Hardy and surefooted

  • Intelligent

  • Many horses available for adoption


  • Smaller horses aren’t ideal for taller riders

  • Unhandled horses will require significant training

Champion and Celebrity Mustang Horses

Many mustangs have become famous:

  • After being adopted, Cobra demonstrated his ability in dressage. He earned a Freestyle Western Dressage Level 1 World Championship in 2015 and was named USEF Horse of the Year in Western Dressage.
  • Elisa Wallace, an eventer, adopted Hwin. Together, they competed in the 2015 Mustang Magic Makeover and Breyer crafted a model horse after Hwin.

Is the Mustang Right for You?

Mustangs are frequently best suited for smaller riders because to their modest size. They’re versatile and suitable for a wide array of disciplines and activities. Mustang temperaments may vary from fiery and reactive to calm and cooperative, so be sure the horse you choose is appropriate for your experience and requirements.

How to Adopt or Buy a Mustang

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) adopts out mustangs every year to help maintain appropriate herd numbers so that the horses can survive on the land. Begin by understanding the BLM’s adoption regulations if you wish to adopt a mustang. You’ll need to meet specific requirements about the type of fencing, facility, and even horse trailer that you have in order to be approved to adopt. Remember that the majority of these horses have never been handled and will need training in everything from halter breaking to riding.

You may also commonly locate mustangs for sale from individual dealers, and these horses may already be taught to ride. Mustangs are a more cheap breed that may be found all throughout the nation. Before purchasing a horse, it is usually a good idea to have a pre-purchase check conducted to identify any health concerns that may impair the horse’s performance.

More Horse Breeds

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Related Questions

  • What does a mustang horse symbolize?

    Mustangs are a mythic symbol of freedom, heroism, romance, limitless possibilities, and the vanishing West. Together with that illusion, wild horses represent some of the most difficult complications and inconsistencies in contemporary American society.

  • What is the difference between a mustang and a regular horse?

    A mustang is any free-roaming horse. A male horse is referred to as a stallion. Mustang is a breed. A stallion is an unaltered male horse.

  • What are the characteristics of wild mustangs?

    Mustangs usually stand 14 to 16 hands tall and weigh 800 to 1200 pounds. They are very clever creatures with a strong survival instinct. Most mustang herds include up to 30 animals. The lead mare is the herd’s leader and makes all of the herd’s choices.

  • What are some fun facts about mustang horses?

    a few more Mustang Horse facts

    1. Mustangs average about 56 inches at the shoulder.
    2. They weigh between 700 and 900 pounds.
    3. There are approximately 50,000 wild mustangs.
    4. There is some debate over whether they are feral or genuinely wild.
    5. Mustangs can run up to 35 miles an hour.

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