The Mustang is a feral horse found in the western part of the United States. A free-roaming horse, as defined by federal law, is an unbranded, unclaimed, free-roaming horse or burro found on western public rangelands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). Wild horses and burros are descendants of animals released by or escaped from Spanish explorers, ranchers, miners, U.S. Cavalry, and Native Americans, and they have mixed with other breeds over the decades.
The name Mustang comes from the Spanish word meste_o or monstenco, meaning wild or stray. The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 recognized Mustangs as living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West, which continue to contribute to the diversity of life forms within the nation and enrich the lives of the American people. This act gave the Department of the Interior's BLM and the Department of Agriculture's USFS the authority to manage, protect, and control wild horses and burros on the nation's public rangelands to ensure healthy herds and healthy rangelands.
Though their numbers once exceeded two million, there are now thought to be around 30,000 wild Mustangs in the United States. To help restore rangeland balance, the BLM gathers thousands of wild horses and burros from public rangelands each year and offers them for adoption or sale to individuals and groups willing and able to provide humane, long-term care.
In addition to being a historic symbol of the Old West, Mustangs make hardy and versatile riding and driving horses. They can be ridden in English and Western disciplines, as well as trail riding. Mustangs come in all colors, including black, bay, dun, palomino, gray, and spotted. The breed averages in height between 13 to 16 hands high.