In nature, the most beautiful animals are horses, especially wild ones. The most attractive among them are the mustangs. Quite a few stories have been made and filmed films about these freedom-loving, beautiful and strong animals.
What are these mustangs - wild horses? How do they live in the wild? All this and their habits can be found in this article.
How did the history of the mustangs begin?
Mustangs are wild horses whose fate has been long and not so simple. There are many sad and tragic moments in their history. Once in America, about 10 thousand years ago, all horses died out.
Then, in the 16th century, new horses were brought to America by the Spanish conquistadors. At first, the Indians did not want to recognize strange animals unknown to them: they killed and ate all the horses that came to them. But soon there was awareness of the value of such an animal as a fast and powerful means of transportation and a great helper in battle and hunting.
The Indians, unlike the Europeans, rode horses without saddles, and the horses were trained to obey even the whisper of the rider, as well as a clear response to every movement of the owner. The Indian practically merged with his irreplaceable friend into a single whole.
Thus, moving from one tribe to another, horses began to spread throughout almost the entire territory of the United States. But there were cases that the racers ran away from a person and broke free. And the Indians themselves often abandoned sick, tired and lame animals to their fate.
Over time, the herds of wild mustangs began to appear on the vast expanses of prairies. The word "mustang" is most likely derived from mestenos (Spanish). So called sheep, stray from the herd. So free and surprisingly beautiful horses appeared in nature.
On the future free life of mustangs
Due to the fact that there were no dangerous predators, nothing prevented the peaceful and free life of large herds of wild mustangs. Their numbers grew so fast that in the middle of the 19th century about 2 million mustangs were already wandering around the expanses of America.
At the very beginning, the blood of Arabian and Andalusian racers flowed in their veins, but gradually noble horses more often crossed with other breeds. Survived in the wild, only the most hardy horses with excellent health.
Height in withers mustang - from 135 to 155 centimeters.
Due to the mixed origin (Andalusian and Arabian blood, local horses) the mustangs have a completely different appearance. The best representatives of this breed have strong hooves, strong legs and a folding muscular physique.
Mustang weight reaches 500 kg. The following suits differ among them: pinto, red, bay, appaloosa and others.
Differences of mustangs from domestic horses
Mustang - an animal that has, as it turned out above, an amazing history of origin.
It is generally accepted that everything began with the fact that domestic horses became wild due to certain reasons. There is a version that this is why they got the name "Mustang" (translated as "wild" or "stray"). Whatever the case, many of the features of that domestic horse are preserved in the wild today.
The merging of different suits by crossing them occurred in connection with the movement. Thus, the migration of Spanish and French horses, pivili to the emergence of a completely new offspring with an admixture of blood friezes, ponies and draft carriers. In the selection process, only the strongest and strongest survived, later used for riding and carrying weights.
Mustang is an animal, the main difference of which from ancestor (domestic horse) is great speed, endurance, tremendous strength and unpretentious content. Of course, there is a negative difference - the horse is domestic, in contrast to the freedom-loving Mustang, more malleable in training. The Mustang is distinguished by its unbridled and insubordinate, it can perceive a person as a master, but only as a person whom he will respect. And the Mustang outwardly differs from the domestic horse, it is smaller in size.
Interesting Mustang Facts
Mustang is an animal with numerous features that cannot be described in one small article. Here are some of the interesting, besides the above, facts:
• If earlier they numbered about 2 million heads, then after the merciless hunting of people on horses for the sake of meat and skins, their number was greatly reduced and amounts to about 20 thousand.
• There is a mustang coin in Nevada (face value of 25 cents).
• The US government has taken the mustangs under protection at the legislative level.
• A mustang mare is usually separated from its herd a few days before giving birth and seeks temporary shelter. The newborn baby starts walking within a few hours after birth, and a few days later they return to the herd together.
Mustangs can be black. A beautiful horse is a black horse, which is always in value. Usually this suit is preferred by purposeful and powerful people. Such a horse has a black color with a bluish tint.
It is believed that the horse of A. Macedonian is a representative of this particular suit. Beautiful and powerful physique, royal look and formidable character combined this black horse in itself.
The basic suits of the mustangs are four: gray, bay, black and red. From the black suit arose and other species, for example, smoky black.
Mustang - the animal is very strong. Such horses successfully participate in sports competitions, they become prize-winners of many international competitions.
It should be noted that in Russia there is the island of Water, which is located in the middle of the Turkmen lake Manych-Gudilo. It is surprising that this territory was occupied by a large herd of mustang horses. They live there for about 50 years. A phenomenon like this is inexplicable by nothing, even though scientists are trying to determine how they came to this island. There are a variety of versions.
The appearance of the name and breed mustang
More than ten thousand years ago, truly wild horses completely disappeared from the territory of the American continent.
Then the first (domestic) horses appeared here along with the Spanish colonialists, who opened this part of the world to Europe. Other Europeans followed them into these fertile lands and, naturally, brought their horses with them. At that troubled time, America was poorly populated, and animals often ran wild, fighting off the herd, losing their masters or running away from the battlefields. Almost perfect climatic conditions for them contributed to the rapid adaptation to wild life. The mustangs owe their name to the Spanish word "mesteno", which means "nobody's" or "wild."
Thus, the beginning of a new species of wild horses put ordinary pets. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the number of their livestock reached several million, which could not fail to attract the attention of numerous hunters. Mustangs have been actively exterminated to obtain hides and meat. In addition, they began to actively "domesticate", because in any economy these strong, enduring and beautiful animals were valued.
As a result of many years of extermination and domestication - at the moment this type of wild horses is on the verge of extinction. The surviving wild horse mustangs are concentrated mainly on the territories of national reserves and are under state protection.
Difference of a mustang from a domestic horse
Since the ancestors of these horses were ordinary domestic horses, outwardly they are very similar to modern race horses. As a result of natural evolution, blood flows in the veins of these animals as riding horse types, heavy breeds and even ponies. However, according to the laws of natural selection, a horse species of the upper type was formed, since the high speed qualities of such animals made it possible to easily get away from predators and other threats that trapped their horses in the wild. However, the draft breed left their mark in the mustangs, endowing them with remarkable strength and endurance.
The main qualitative advantages of these wild horses in comparison with domestic horses are:
- great muscular strength
- higher speed
- increased endurance
- high level of simplicity
- stronger immune system.
All these qualities could be formed only in the conditions of the wild nature, where the life of the animal directly depends on them.
The main disadvantage of such horses is their character.
Mustang - a horse is very freedom-loving and hot, which is very difficult to train. Only a very strong physically and spiritually man can earn the respect of this proud horse. But if the rider managed to subdue the hot handsome man - he could hardly find a more loyal and devoted friend. Like a riding horse, the mustang is one of the best animals.
Appearance and lifestyle
Mustangs are medium-sized horses. Their average weight rarely exceeds four kilograms, and the height at the withers is usually about one and a half meters. These horses are distinguished by a lightweight constitution, which makes it easy to gain great speed. Color can be almost anything, but most often there are bay, red and pinpe specimens. Although a black or light gray Mustang is not uncommon.
Like other types of wild horses, the mustangs gather in herds called herds. In each herd-family there is a leader (the strongest sexually mature stallion) and the main mare (the most experienced and intelligent female).
The main function of the lead stallion is to protect the family and fertilize the females. His right to lead the alpha male has to constantly prove in fights with other stallions. In general, experienced males of about six years of age (or older), who already have certain life experience, become leaders. Young males under the age of three years obey him unconditionally, and then he expels them from the herd.
The main mare takes the place of the leader during his absence. The main task of this “mother of the family” is to lead young horses and other females from the danger. The main female is not at all due to her physical condition, because mares do not find out the relationship by force. Here the main criterion is the experience and intelligence of the animal, as well as its reproductive qualities (fertility).
If it is impossible to escape from the threat, the herd is lined up in a lively circle, inside which little foals and the main female hide. The main defense holds the leader and the young, subordinate to him stallions. Females participate in the defense as needed. Most often, the mustangs turn their backs to the enemy, if necessary, to activate their "deadly weapon" - a powerful blow with hind hoofs.
In food, these horses are quite unpretentious. Their main food is the grass and shrubs growing in the steppes. Their usual habitat is the territory with poor vegetation and a small number of water sources.
It is because of this that the herds of these horses have to make long transitions in order to get drunk enough and provide themselves with the necessary amount of feed. The leader or the main female, following her memory and experience, leads the herd to the best grazing lands and watering places. However, during long transitions, these animals quietly do without food and drink for several days.
Features of reproduction in natural conditions of the wild nature
The pairing period at the mustangs begins in the spring and lasts until the beginning of summer. The right to mate with females leader must prove in a fierce fight, because only the strongest of the males will be "admitted to the body." It is these cruel rules of natural selection that allowed these animals to become so strong and enduring.
Offspring mare bears for eleven months. As a rule, there is only one foal in the offspring.
Twins for everyone, including domestic horses, are more likely a deviation from the norm. Before the very birth, the mare leaves the herd in search of a safe nook. Foals in the first days of life are very vulnerable. Their main task at this time is to quickly rise to their feet and reach the mother's udder.
On the suck, the young are usually found for the first six months, after which they completely switch to “adult” food.
Currently, hunting for these wonderful animals is banned everywhere, and there is hope that over time their livestock will grow. After all, little in the world can be compared in beauty with a herd of mustangs running freely over the boundless steppe!
What is the difference between a mustang and a domestic horse?
Beautiful and free as the wind, the Mustang can be of a different color, but most often it is found pinned, bay and red color of the horse. The mustang weighs up to 500 kg, while its height (height at withers) can reach 1.5 meters. This strong and very hardy animal lives in the western United States and leads a herd life, huddling in a herd. The mustang differs from the domestic horse, not curbed by temper, endurance and size.
Lifestyle of wild mustang horses
Any herd of mustangs is headed by one male. But before that, he must reach the age of at least 6 years, in order to have experience in order for the herd, in obedience, to follow him.
In his submission, as a rule, there are several females with their foals and young males. Each herd lives on its territory, in which it not only grazes, but also controls it, and in case of danger and protects it. As for the latter, during its detection the mare-conductor takes everyone to a safe place, and the leader of the herd stays and takes the fight from the enemy. In addition, defending themselves against a large number of external enemies, herds may enter into a tacit agreement on a temporary truce and oppose the predators together.
Wild horses have not lost the beauty and attractiveness of domestic ancestors
What eat mustangs
The basis of the mustangs diet is vegetable food, because the mustangs, so to speak, are exclusively vegetarians.
The lack of food is a problem for them, as is the lack of water, without which the mustangs can go on for many days.
Leading the herd way of life, the horses learned to communicate with each other with the help of signals — sniffing and neighing.
Reproduction of mustangs
The marriage period of the mustangs lasts from April to July. At this time, young males are unusually fierce battles for the right to mate with a particular female.
Pregnancy lasts 11 months and when it comes time to give birth the pregnant female separates from the common herd and goes to a safe place, where it produces one foal. The birth of two foals is an exception and a rarity.
Just like home ones, they like to frolic in water.
The just-born mustang foal is very weak and helpless. With difficulty getting up on his legs, he reaches for his mother's milk. The color of the newborn reliably hides him in the tall grass, but the young mother cannot afford to fight off the herd and after a few days, together with the foal, she returns to the herd.
For 6–8 months, the female feeds the cub with her milk and during this time it has time to noticeably grow and get stronger.
After they reach the 3rd age, the young stallion is driven from the herd, so the dominant male does not need competition. And the female mom can either leave with her grown foal, or remain in the herd.
In their natural habitat mustangs live to 20 years.
Recently, unfortunately, their numbers have declined sharply. And what is more regrettable, it is not the natural enemies of the mustangs who are to blame for this - predators, but man and his activity. Obsessed with the idea of developing new lands, people have long exterminated mustangs, as it is rather difficult to tame them. Mustangs are freedom-loving, they are the very soul of the prairies.
Wild horses Manych
On the territory of the Rostov Biosphere Reserve there is an island on which the population of feral horses lives. This island is called Water and it is located in the middle of the salty lake Manych-Gudilo. Now nobody knows exactly how the horses got there. There are many opinions on this score. The most realistic version is that the horses remained after the ruin of the state farm. But they are not less beautiful and wild from it.
And it is true that there was not a trace left of the meek, docile domestic horses. These are explosive active and wayward animals that are forced to fight against difficult environmental conditions. Fresh water on the island is small, and in a hot dry climate, the plants remain juicy and green for a very short time. Therefore, sometimes, in very cold or dry years, horses are fed and watered. But they do it so that contact with people is minimal and only if the conditions are too harsh.
Initially, these were Don breed horses, but now there is little left of the Donchakov exterior. They have become smaller growth, in winter they are covered with warm fur, and, in general, they become similar to primitive horses.
Живут они небольшими семейными группами – табунами. В каждой группе выстроена четкая иерархия, которая понятна каждому члену табуна. Есть вожак – альфа-жеребец и есть альфа-кобыла. Остальные обязаны им подчиняться и следовать за ними. Именно вожаки решают, где есть, куда бежать и когда играть. Играть лошади, к слову, очень любят. Особенно молодняк. They play with each other or with improvised toys (sticks, stones, etc.). And when spring comes, the horses show themselves in all their glory. This is a period of full and active life. It is in the spring that one can observe the battles of stallions and the ritual marriage dances and games of foals born in winter. In the spring they do not need to fight for life, but you can just enjoy it.
Unfortunately, in 2010, due to the cold winter, the population of almost 400 individuals declined by more than half. Now, about 160 heads of horses live on the island and to improve the quality of their lives, livestock growth is controlled. Also, in order to avoid a repetition of the mass death of 2010, a freshwater pipeline was held on the island.
If you are going to visit the island of Water, the main thing do not forget to take a camera. Bright, characteristic and unforgettable photos are guaranteed to you, however, as well as impressions.
The history of the horse Mustang
Historians, archaeologists found that once wild horses in the Americas were, but the reasons that remain not completely clear, they died out about ten thousand years ago. Thus, by the time Europeans appeared in America, there were no horses anymore. In the early stages of colonization, the Spaniards often used horses to give themselves a more majestic look, because in the eyes of the Indians a horseman on a horse unprecedented for them seemed almost like a deity.
As the development of the continent went on and as relations between Indians and Europeans deteriorated, feral horses began to appear. In combat skirmishes, the horses who had lost their rider ran away, frightened by the noise of battle. In addition, the natives, who sometimes managed to take possession of horses as trophies, did not always know how to use them, and therefore simply abandoned them. Finally, the horses corny ran away from the pastures and night stands of European colonialists.
Since the horse is a gregarious animal, the lonely fugitives quickly fell into groups and began to multiply, further increasing the population of wild horses. Growth rates of wild herds were so high that by the beginning of the XIX century numerous herds of these animals were found everywhere in the steppe regions of the Americas from Paraguay in the south to Canada in the north. By this time, the number of wild mustang horses in the territory currently occupied by the United States was at least 2 million heads.
During this period, feral horses were a popular object of hunting, from which they received a lot of meat and high-quality leather. However, soon the scale of the hunt surpassed the ability of herds to make up for losses, and the population began to rapidly decline. The sharp decline in the number of wild horses was also affected by the expansion of arable land and fenced pastures for farm animals. As a result, by the beginning of the 20th century, the total number of wild mustangs has dropped to several hundred thousand.
Interestingly, at the beginning of the last century, the Americans caught a huge number of mustangs in order to use them in the American-Spanish and World War I. Thus, by the 1930s, there were only 50 to 150 thousand wild horses in the United States. By the 1950s, the population had shrunk even more, to 25 thousand.
In connection with the threat of extinction of wild horses in the United States, a number of laws were passed, restricting and subsequently completely banning hunting for mustangs. Today, the number of American mustangs of horses (that is, living in Canada and the United States), according to various sources, is from 25 to 35 thousand heads.
Mustangs in culture
Although wild horses spread throughout the New World, outside of America they learned about them not from the Spaniards, but from residents of the United States. The term "mustang" is Spanish-speaking in origin. In the Spanish-speaking countries of America, including Mexico, the words “mestengo”, “mesteño” and “mostrenco” were used, which in different dialects of Spanish means “stray (wild or drawn) livestock.
Mustangs have left a significant mark in the culture of modern peoples of America. They became a symbol of an irrepressible thirst for freedom, a free spirit and freedom itself as such. For example, it is believed that the mustangs, running away from the cowboys who are trying to lure them, are deliberately thrown off the rocky ledges to keep themselves from choking. In reality, of course, this is just a myth, but it shows well how Americans perceive wild horses. Therefore, in most of the photos, the mustang horse is captured in a proud irrepressible gallop.
Strong and graceful, the horses themselves seem to be very majestic animals, and the mustangs are doubly magnificent because of their love of freedom. It is not surprising that many creative people used their image in their works. Mustangs were readily portrayed by artists on their canvases, they were often mentioned in prose and verse, they were in demand for images in motion pictures and cartoons. Very revealing in this regard is the relatively recent animated film Spirit: The Soul of the Prairies, depicting an archetypical Mustang, eager for freedom.
Finally, in honor of the wild mustangs, the iconic Ford Mustang sports car model has been named for more than half a century in the United States. Having assigned such a name to the car, the creators sought to emphasize that it is just as strong, graceful, fast, beautiful, and freedom-loving, like a wild mustang, riding across the prairies.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that in a certain sense Americans consider the mustang to be the symbol of America itself and the American people. In this regard, it is very easy to draw a parallel between freedom-loving wild horses and migrants from Europe, who were looking for freedom for themselves and their children in the New World.
Photos and description of wild mustangs
Although the term “mustang horse” is used in some sources, it is important to understand that this horse is not a breed. Firstly, the breed is a complex of characteristics of productivity and appearance that appear in domestic animals under the influence of human breeding work. Accordingly, the concept of breed is not applicable to wild animals.
Secondly, the mustangs lived and continue to live in isolated populations that rarely intersect with each other or do not intersect at all. Accordingly, there may be significant differences between representatives of different populations.
Finally, thirdly, in the blood of the mustangs there are genes of various breeds. Well, since in this case there was no one to fix the hereditary traits and standardize the exterior, even within the same population there could be significant differences between animals.
Nevertheless, a general description of the mustangs can be given. Experienced horse breeders, even just looking at photos and videos of wild horse mustangs, will immediately notice in their appearance still distinguishable features of old European breeds, of which the first herds of mustangs were formed centuries ago. Especially a lot of signs remained of the Spanish and French breeds, because in the XVI-XVII centuries, Spain and France mastered North America more actively than the British. Also visible features of the Dutch horses, especially heavy breeds. In addition, there must be genes of many other European horses in the blood of mustangs, including even ponies.
Under conditions of natural selection, the genes of weak ponies and other decorative breeds were lost as unnecessary. Gradually the mustangs formed a more or less common exterior, similar to riding horses. Thanks to speed, they can easily get away from predators, and the strength they inherited from heavy horses, endowed them with endurance.
In general, it can be said that the mustang is distinguished by a horse with a better adaptation to life without a person. He is very fast, strong and enduring, completely unpretentious to life in the open air (after all, he simply does not have anything else to do) and has a very strong immunity.
Although traditionally the mustangs are portrayed as tall and graceful, this is only a cultural stamp that has already been mentioned above. In fact, these are relatively small horses up to 150 cm tall at the withers and weighing up to 400 kg. The constitution of the body is very light. All together, this allows the Mustangs to develop great speed, without, however, spending too much energy at a gallop.
The suits are mainly spotted, bayed and red. But the black mustang is a very rare horse, but it is considered particularly beautiful.
Like their ancient ancestors, modern wild horses live in herds, each of which has an average of 15-20 individuals. In rare cases, more. Large herds with dozens or hundreds of heads - no more than artistic fiction. Each such "family" has its own territory, which has to be protected from competitors.
In the herd a simple hierarchy: one alpha male and one main female. The alpha male sets the direction for the movement of the herd, “organizes” (if it can be said about wild animals) defense from predators, and also has the unconditional right to mate with any female in the herd. His superiority alpha male is forced to defend in regular clashes with applicants for the "throne". Except for these skirmishes, the other males always obey him unconditionally.
Home mare is a kind of "deputy" alpha male. She leads a herd if the main male is engaged in a skirmish with aspirants or with predators. In this case, the other males always obey her. The status of the main female is determined not by strength and experience, but by fecundity, therefore there are almost no clashes for leadership between females.
An interesting defense strategy undertaken by the mustangs in the face of danger. The herd is lined up in a figure that remotely resembles a military square: in the center of the circle are foals and females, and along the perimeter the males are turned to the center and to the predator croup. In this position, the males can use their main weapon - the hind feet. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to find a video of mustang horses performing this figure, but this tactic looks lively.
Being a classic example of a herbivore, mustangs feed on wild-growing herbs and some shrubs. Today, wild horses are driven out by man to land that is unsuitable for agriculture, that is, scarce on vegetation and surface water. For this reason, herds have to travel tens of kilometers a day in search of grass and water. Since it is the alpha male that leads the herd, one of the most important qualities for him is a great experience and a good memory to bring the herd to water or pasture. Because of this, young inexperienced males never become leaders.
The breeding cycle of the mustangs begins in the spring. Mating can continue right up to the beginning of summer, while the males must in brutal skirmishes prove their right to access females. Due to the fact that only the strongest win, the mustang gene pool is constantly improving.
Pregnancy of females lasts 11 months, that is, to the light of foals appear next spring. As a rule, a mare gives birth to only one foal, the birth of two is a pathology rather than the norm. The first six months, the young feed on their mother's milk, and then switch to pasture. Photos of mustang horses with foals is one of the nicest shows.
Six thousand years ago, people had already managed to tame wild tarpan, which turned out modern horses. Therefore, tame feral mustangs is even easier. However, there are some difficulties associated with the fact that US laws protect the mustangs as a valuable and rare wild animal. However, a number of wild horses live in a special type of reservation, where they are not considered to be wild in the full sense, and therefore they can be caught.
Bringing a mustang and delivering it to the stable is a relatively simple technical task. The difficulty lies elsewhere: the mustang still remains wild. No wonder domestic horses begin to drive around at a young age. An old horse is much harder to teach to walk under a saddle than a young one. Making the mustang walk under the saddle is even more difficult, because he grew up and was formed as a “person”, not knowing a person at all. Accordingly, the process of domestication and dressing will be quite lengthy and tedious.
Finally, after taming and detouring at the exit, you still get essentially a mongrel horse, which has a very mediocre exterior. On the other hand, the mustang is very strong, hardy and able to jump fast. Yes, and to the conditions of detention, he is not exacting at all, because from an early age he was used to eating scanty vegetation and drinking ice water.
By the way, in view of the fact that the mustangs are found only in America, taming and riding a wild horse is half the cost. After all, it must be delivered to Russia in half the world, which will require considerable additional costs. As a result, you will get a very expensive horse, which, most likely, will have a bad temper and not the best sports characteristics.