America is just as much the melting pot of horses as it is of humans. However, many of the breeds across the U.S. today developed from the same source: horses
brought to the New World by the Spanish
explorers in the 1500s.
One modern breed that owes its existence to
these Spanish horses is the Spanish Mustang.
The Spaniards established farms in the Caribbean and Mexico as they worked to spread
Christianity. Their horses were gifted to many
Native American tribes and stolen by several
others. As the Native Americans moved throughout western America, so did their horses.
Many of these Spanish horses were lost or
escaped and became feral. Others became part
of ranching operations as cow horses, and many
were used as cavalry mounts by the U.S. Army.
Breeders began to recognize and appreciate the
distinctive qualities of these horses. This appreciation and the fact that the original Spanish
blood was becoming more rare, having been
mixed with other European breeds over the
years, spurred the establishment of the Spanish
Mustang Registry in 1957. The registry has since
worked to preserve and promote the traits of the
straight Spanish horse that came to the Americas,
such as people-friendly, hardy, agile, curious and
quick to learn.
The Spanish Mustang’s compact build lends
to its success in western and ranch classes in the
show pen, as well as trail riding, distance riding
Similar but Different
The Spanish Mustang is often confused with the
wild mustangs managed by the Bureau of Land
Management. While both descend from the
Spanish horses brought to the New World in
the 1500s, registered Spanish Mustangs have a
documented history that began well before the
BLM started managing wild herds. In 2006, a
study determined that the Spanish Mustang has
distinct genetics tracing back to horses from the
For more information, visit the Spanish Mustang Registry at