When one pictures the West, images of open plains, bison roaming, and cowboys herding cattle may come to mind. All of these things are attributes of the West, but one main figure may stand out above the rest - the wild Mustang.
The Mustang, considered by some to not be its own breed, is one of America's feral horses. The other would be the Chincoteague Ponies of the east coast. The name Mustang originated from the Spanish word mesteno which means "feral beast" or "owner-less". The horse was introduced to America's during the late 1500's when Spanish Conquistador's were exploring Central America. The Mustang perhaps escaped or were let loose by natives and became a part of the New World.
Though typically a small, stock type horse of size ranging from 13-15 hands, the Mustang has over the years interbred with several different horses that were brought over from Europe such as drafts breeds or the Bashkir Curly. Thus making the breed unique by offering so many different traits, sizes, and colors.
During 1971, after a campaign held in the 1950s led by Velma B. Johnston (also known as "Wild Horse Annie"), Congress passed a bill titled the "Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act" to protect and manage wild horses. This act was supposed to ban the use of any motor vehicle (of land or air) to round up wild horses. However, today the Mustang's very existence is being threatened once again.
Mustangs are being rounded up off of public lands and placed in holding facilities or being killed all for the sake of making room for cattle grazing on public lands. As of right now, there are far more cattle than wild horses grazing on public lands.
The Mustang is a living symbol of America's history and is worthy of protection. May their legacy continue to unfold.