As an expert in wild horse photography, Deb Lee Carson has scoured the nation to find and capture every aspect of wild horses with her camera. As symbols of the American Wild West, there are distinct types of mustang scattered across America. To help you better understand and celebrate the mustangs so synonymous with early America, we introduce you to some of the more well-known types of American wild horses.
North Dakota Badlands Mustangs
The free-roaming horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park located in Medora, North Dakota, have a unique genetic makeup specific to this herd of horses, not found anywhere else in the world. The horses range in height from 14 to 16 hands and are known for their connection to the region’s historical wild horses known by native nations, T.R. himself, and local ranchers. Their colors vary from roans, grays, sorrels, blacks, and bays.
Pryor Mountain Mustang
These mustangs are named after their home in the Pryor Mountains of Montana. They have a wide array of coat colors—bay, black, grulla, roam, bucksin, and palomino—and feature some primitive markings, which are stripes or bars on their coats. Standing at 13 to 14 hands tall, Pryor Mountain Mustangs are known for their muscular build, long mane, long tail, and occasional roman nose.
Hailing from the Beaty Butte region of Oregon, Kiger mustangs are famous for their signature dun color with dorsal stripes but can also appear in other shades and colors. Standing between 13 to 16 hands, Kiger mustangs have compact, muscular bodies, barb heads, and well-crested necks. As a result, these horses are very strong and athletic. Combined with their naturally friendly demeanor, Kigers are popular riding horses for Western and English disciplines.
Some of the different types of American wild horses are descendants of the colonial era. None are more obvious than the Spanish mustang. While their herds have dwindled since the early 20th century, efforts today have been made to protect and preserve this breed.
Standing at 13 to 15 hands and weighing up to 1,100 pounds, these mustangs have smooth, muscled bodies, well-defined necks, short backs, and straight or convex heads.
Colonial Spanish Mustang
Colonial Spanish mustangs are unique in that they have five lumbar vertebrae instead of the typical six. These horses are also rarer because there are currently two herds of this breed in America—the Corolla Wild Horses and the Shackelford Banker ponies—that roam North Carolina’s beaches.
Found in Arizona, the Cerbat mustang is admired for its stunning appearance that resembles Andalusian horses. While they’re typically bay in color, they may also be found as strawberry or blue roans, gray, black, sorrel, and dun. Standing at 14 to 16 hands and weighing between 750 to 800 pounds, Cerbats are sturdy and refined horses.
Distinct for their shorter stature, these ponies come in all varieties of color and patterns with a distinct belly that appears bloated. This is because Chincoteague ponies drink twice as much water as other breeds. Their food and water contain a lot more salt thanks to their island habitats of Assateague and Chincoteague off the coast of North America.