How to Get a Mustang Horse: Expert Guide & Essential Info

Are you dreaming of owning a beautiful and powerful Mustang horse? Look no further! In this expert guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about how to get a Mustang horse. From where to find them and what to look for, to the essential information you need to consider before bringing one home, we’ve got you covered. So saddle up and get ready to embark on your journey to owning a magnificent Mustang horse!

History of Mustang Horses

Beautiful Wild Mustang Horse in the Desert in Springtime

Origins and Ancestry

The Mustang, a free-roaming horse of the American West, has a captivating history. These horses descended from domesticated Spanish horses brought to the Americas in the 16th century by Spanish explorers and missionaries. Due to their once-domesticated lineage, Mustangs are more accurately referred to as feral horses. As time progressed, the Mustangs interbred with other escaped or traded horses, producing a diverse blend of breeds and ancestries.

North America and Wild West

The spread of Mustangs across North America can be traced back to the horse trade routes with European settlers and Native Americans. After the initial arrival in Mexico, Spanish horses continued to spread throughout the Americas, eventually reaching the western United States. The harsh conditions of the Wild West led to the natural selection of only the strongest horses, resulting in the adaptable and resilient Mustang we recognize today.

Native American Connection

Mustangs played a significant role in the lives and culture of Native American tribes. These versatile horses were essential for transportation, hunting, and even warfare. Native Americans often captured, traded, and bartered Mustangs, integrating them into their societies as they utilized their unique skills for various tasks.

Through the centuries, the Mustang has become an iconic symbol of the American West, embodying the essence of freedom and resilience. Today, its history continues to fascinate horse enthusiasts and individuals who appreciate its role in shaping the diverse equine culture present in the Americas.

Characteristics and Behavior

Physical Traits and Markings

Mustang horses are known for their varying physical traits and markings, largely because different horse breeds contributed to their development. Typically standing at a height of 14 to 15 hands (56 to 60 inches or 140 to 150cm), Mustangs are smaller and stocky, with a weight of up to 800 lbs. Their majestic carriage and symmetric build, with every body part being proportional to the rest, give them a unique appearance. These horses have a long, highly-crested neck that blends smoothly with their sloping shoulders, and their heads narrow down to a fine muzzle, contributing to their proud look.

Mustangs display a wide variety of colors and patterns, including common colors like chestnut, black, bay, and brown, as well as less common ones like pinto and palomino. Gray and sorrel shades are also found in these horses. They may feature diverse markings on their coats, depending on their genetic makeup.

Temperament and Personality

The temperament and personality of Mustang horses can be attributed to their feral background and the diverse breeds that contributed to their development. Generally, Mustangs are hardy and known for their strong, healthy hooves. The American Mustang has a surefooted and resilient nature, making them excellent choices for various equestrian disciplines.

The behavior of individual Mustangs may vary depending on factors such as their background, level of training, and the environment they were raised in. Some Mustangs can be reactive and spooky if they were rounded up and adopted out with minimal handling. However, those who receive proper training, socialization, and gentle handling tend to develop into reliable, loyal, and adaptable companions.

In summary, Mustang horses are a unique and diverse breed with varied physical traits, colors, and markings. Their hardy nature and surefootedness make them ideal for numerous equestrian activities. The temperament and personality of these horses can differ based on their background and training, but with proper guidance, they can become excellent lifelong partners for their owners.

Habitat and Population

Wild mustangs at Washoe Lake Nevada

Wild Herds and Herd Management Areas

Mustang horses, also known as feral horses, can be found primarily in the western United States. Their habitat consists of arid regions, such as deserts and mountainous areas, as well as grasslands and prairies with sufficient vegetation for them to graze. Herd Management Areas (HMAs) have been established to help maintain their habitat and protect the welfare of these wild horses.

In these HMAs, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management oversees the wild horse populations and ensures the land is suitable for the mustangs to thrive. They allocate resources to maintain the balance between wild horses, vegetation, and other wildlife that share the same territory.

Population and Conservation Status

The current population of mustang horses varies, with some herds being more abundant than others. Overall, it is essential to monitor the population to ensure that overpopulation does not occur, which could lead to resource depletion, territory conflicts, and habitat degradation. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management also addresses population control by implementing methods such as adoption programs and fertility control for the herds.

In order to take in a mustang, individuals must meet certain requirements, such as being over the age of 18 and having no history of animal cruelty convictions or violations of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. By adopting a mustang, one can play a crucial role in reducing the population of these magnificent creatures in the wild, while also ensuring that they receive the necessary care and resources that may not be available in their natural habitat.

Conservation efforts for mustang horses are crucial, as adequate herd management and habitat preservation can maintain a healthy population and ecosystem for these iconic American wild horses.

The health and behavior of mustang horses are influenced by factors including their background and level of training. A well-handled mustang is known to be hardy, with strong hooves and a healthy disposition. However, a rounded-up mustang with little handling might appear more reactive and cautious in human presence.

If one wishes to care for a mustang, providing proper nutrition is essential for their well-being. Mustangs primarily graze on shrubs and grasses in their natural habitat. When kept in a domesticated environment, they can graze in a pasture or be provided with harvested hay. Typically, they should consume 2-2.5% of their body weight per day.

Health and Nutrition

Wild Mustangs of Western Wyoming USA

Diet: Wild vs Domesticated

Mustang horses are known for their hardy nature and ability to survive in a variety of conditions. In the wild, mustangs primarily graze on grasses and shrubs found in their natural habitat. This forage is their primary source of nutrition and provides them with the essential nutrients and calories required for survival. Domesticated mustangs, on the other hand, typically have access to a more diverse range of feed options, including hay, grains, and various supplements. While providing a similar diet to their wild counterparts is ideal, adapting it to include higher quality forage and supplements can promote overall health and longevity.

  • Wild mustangs:
    • Graze on grasses and shrubs
    • Rely on forage for essential nutrients
  • Domesticated mustangs:
    • Consume hay, grains, and supplements
    • Benefit from a diverse and nutrient-rich diet

Common Health Issues and Concerns

Though mustangs are generally low-maintenance and hardy, they are not immune to health issues. One common concern for mustangs is proper weight management, as obesity can lead to a variety of complications, including laminitis and metabolic disorders. Overpopulation can also be a concern, as high population densities can strain natural resources, leading to malnutrition and environmental degradation. Mustang owners should work closely with their veterinarians to monitor their horse’s weight, address any health concerns, and manage potential risks related to overpopulation.

  • Weight management:
    • Obesity can lead to laminitis and metabolic disorders
    • Work with a veterinarian to monitor weight
  • Overpopulation concerns:
    • High population densities can strain resources and lead to malnutrition
    • Manage potential risks through population control efforts

Maintaining a Healthy Mustang

Ensuring a mustang’s health involves providing the right nutrients and being vigilant about addressing any concerns. Start by offering 2-2.5 percent of your mustang’s body weight in feed per day while making sure to include essential nutrients in their diet. Providing access to salt, either in loose or block form, is also crucial for maintaining electrolyte balance. Regular checkups with a veterinarian and monitoring the horse’s overall condition will help ensure that any potential issues are addressed promptly, maintaining a healthy mustang for years to come.

  • Provide proper nutrition:
    • Offer 2-2.5 percent of body weight in feed per day
    • Ensure diet includes essential nutrients and salt
  • Schedule regular veterinarian checkups and monitor overall condition

Mustang Horse Adoption and Purchasing

Bureau of Land Management Adoption Program

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Adoption Program offers qualified individuals a chance to adopt or purchase a wild mustang horse, providing these magnificent animals with a loving and caring home. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and have no prior convictions of animal cruelty or violations of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. The BLM requires an adoption fee, typically ranging between $125 and $1,500, depending on the horse’s age and training.

Auctions and Private Sellers

In addition to the BLM program, mustang horses can be purchased from auctions and private sellers. Some organizations, like the Mustang Heritage Foundation, offer adoption services and support for mustang enthusiasts. Prospective adopters should also consider browsing websites like Adopt-a-Pet to find available mustangs for adoption or purchase. Regardless of the source, it’s essential to thoroughly research the seller or organization to ensure ethical treatment of the horses and avoid potential scams.

Considerations for Adopting or Buying a Mustang

When considering adopting or purchasing a mustang horse, there are several factors to keep in mind. Mustangs are wild horses, so they require an experienced owner with knowledge of proper horse care, handling, and training. Additionally, potential adopters or buyers should consider the costs of horse ownership, such as feed, grooming, veterinary care, and boarding.

Here are some additional points to consider when adopting or purchasing a mustang horse:

  • Mustangs may have behavioral or medical issues that require professional attention and additional financial investment.
  • Prospective adopters should make sure they have access to appropriate facilities, such as a stable, pasture, or corral, to provide a healthy environment for their mustang horse.
  • It’s essential to establish a reliable relationship with a veterinarian knowledgeable in mustang horse care.
  • Do not adopt or buy a mustang horse if you’re unsure about providing a long-term, stable home for the animal.

In conclusion, adopting or purchasing a mustang horse is a challenging and rewarding experience for individuals dedicated to providing these majestic creatures with a loving and secure home. Though the process may be thorough, it results in a deeply fulfilling and lifelong bond between the owner and their mustang horse.

Caring for a Mustang Horse


Two beautiful brown Mustang horses in a field eating grass with trees on the background
Two beautiful brown Mustang horses in a field eating grass with trees on the background

When it comes to owning a mustang horse, understanding their specific needs is important to ensure their health and happiness. In this section, we will discuss the essentials of mustang horse care, focusing on housing and shelter, feeding and nutrition, and grooming and coat care.

Housing and Shelter

Mustang horses require a safe and secure environment to thrive. Providing them with adequate housing and shelter is crucial. Ideally, they should have access to a pasture where they can roam, graze, and socialize with other horses.

Fencing is important, as it keeps the horse within their designated area and protects them from potential hazards. Before adopting a mustang horse, it’s essential to meet the specific fencing and facility requirements set by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

In addition to a pasture, a shelter is also necessary to protect mustangs from harsh weather conditions such as rain, wind, and direct sunlight. The shelter can be a simple three-sided structure, barn, or a stable with adequate ventilation, dry flooring, and enough space for the horse to move comfortably.

Feeding and Nutrition

Maintaining a proper diet is essential for a mustang horse’s health. Mustangs typically graze on shrubs and grasses that are found in their natural habitat. When in a domestic setting, you can provide them with harvested hay. A mustang’s diet should consist of 2-2.5% of their body weight per day.

Monitoring their weight is important, as mustang horses are opportunistic feeders, meaning they might overeat if given the chance. Also, make sure they have access to fresh, clean water at all times, as proper hydration is crucial to their overall health.

Grooming and Coat Care

Mustang horses have various coat colors and are generally low-maintenance in terms of grooming. However, regular grooming is still necessary to maintain the health and appearance of their coat. Use a soft, sturdy brush to remove dirt, mud, and loose hair from their body.

Pay close attention to their mane and tail, as they can become tangled and cause discomfort. Gently use a comb to untangle any knots and keep the hair looking healthy. Regular grooming sessions will not only help keep your mustang looking its best but will also provide an opportunity to establish a strong bond between you and your horse.

In conclusion, caring for a mustang horse can be a rewarding experience. By providing proper housing and shelter, feeding and nutrition, and grooming and coat care, you can ensure that your mustang horse lives a happy and healthy life.

Training and Handling Mustangs

Chestnut Wild American Mustang Stallion

Initial Handling and Gentling

When embarking on the journey of training and handling Mustangs, it is essential to begin with the initial handling and gentling process. This phase is crucial in building trust and establishing a foundation for the subsequent training stages. Mustangs are often caught from the wild, and as such, they lack the familiarity with humans that domestic horses possess. To help them transition comfortably into a more domesticated life, patience and gentle methods are required.

During this stage, the primary focus should be on establishing a secure bond with the wild horse, which can be done by employing respondent conditioning. This technique serves to calm the animal while setting the stage for further training and inclusion into a domestic environment [1]. Keep in mind that the initial handling process should involve consistent daily interaction to prevent the horse from reverting to its feral state [2].

Some early gentling activities may include:

  • Catching the animal
  • Haltering the animal
  • Leading the animal
  • Grooming the animal
  • Handling the hooves

Basic Training and Socialization

Once the Mustang has been successfully gentled, it is time to advance to basic training and socialization. In this stage, the objective is to help the horse adapt to its new life among humans and other domestic horses. Mustangs tend to be fast learners, which will be advantageous in this process.

An essential aspect of basic training is groundwork. Mustangs must have a solid foundation of groundwork before moving on to advanced activities, such as being ridden [3]. MacDermaid, a Mustang Trainer Incentive Program (TIP) trainer, emphasizes the importance of creating reliable, ground-based training practices to help prepare the Mustang for any discipline under saddle [4].

To aid in the Mustang’s socialization, both with humans and other horses, consider the following actions:

  • Introducing the horse to various handling tools such as arm extensions
  • Ponying the Mustang alongside a well-trained, experienced horse
  • Hand walking the Mustang in various environments
  • Exposing the horse to new stimuli, such as different sights, sounds, and obstacles

It is important to remember that, like any horse, Mustang foals may require special attention and care during the training process. They may be more susceptible to fear, so gentling and training should be approached with extra caution and patience to ensure their safety and progress.

In summary, the training and handling of Mustangs involve delicate and calculated processes tailored to the unique challenges posed by these wild horses. Through consistent, patient, and mindful engagement, Mustangs can be successfully tamed and integrated into a domestic environment, where they can grow and flourish alongside their human caretakers and equine companions.

Mustangs in Competitive and Recreational Riding

Young Mustang horse at a stable

Mustang horses are versatile and adaptable, making them suitable for various equestrian disciplines. In this section, we will discuss their capabilities and suitability for trail riding, dressage, and other disciplines.

Trail Riding

Mustangs are known for their stamina, agility, and ability to navigate rough terrain, making them exceptional trail riding companions. They remain sure-footed on uneven ground and are generally low-maintenance, needing only moderate care and feed. Their instinctive survival skills developed in the wild help them avoid potential hazards and stay safe during rides. They also form strong bonds with their owners, enabling them to work well as a team during long rides.


Although not traditionally associated with dressage, Mustangs can excel in this discipline due to their intelligence, trainability, and natural balance. With proper and consistent training, they can learn intricate dressage movements and compete successfully against other breeds. Their unique heritage and appearance often make them stand out in competition, attracting attention from judges and spectators alike. It is worth noting that the Trainer Incentive Program (TIP) by the Mustang Heritage Foundation provides support for trainers working with these horses, including those interested in pursuing dressage.

Other Disciplines

Mustangs can also perform well in various other equestrian disciplines, thanks to their diverse genetic makeup and adaptable nature. They are known for their exceptional galloping speed, making them suitable for endurance riding and competitive events requiring high-speeds.

Additionally, their bravery and quick thinking make them great candidates for eventing, show jumping, and even western riding sports such as reining or cutting. In general, Mustangs possess the skills and disposition needed to successfully participate in a range of riding disciplines, making them a versatile choice for equestrians both competitively and recreationally.

In conclusion, whether for trail riding, dressage, or other disciplines, Mustang horses have proven themselves to be versatile, adaptable, and strong equestrian partners. Given their unique qualities and captivating history, they are sure to bring an invaluable presence to any rider’s equestrian journey.

How to Get a Mustang Horse

Mustang Horse grazing in the sunset lights

Getting a mustang horse requires careful planning, research, and preparation, as these beautiful creatures are known for their wild nature and optimum adaptability. Knowing the mustang’s characteristics, trainability, and essential care tips can make the process of finding and bringing one home much smoother.

Mustang horses, known for their impressive lifespan, can live up to 40 years in the wild and have a lifespan between 25 to 30 years when domesticated. These hardy animals can easily adjust to a diet of grass and brush in captivity, making them relatively easy keepers. Their nature makes them ideal as working horses and trail horses, capable of navigating challenging terrains with ease.

When looking to obtain a mustang horse, it’s crucial to start with a reputable organization or agency, such as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the United States. BLM regulates the adoption or purchase of mustang horses to responsible individuals, ensuring their proper care and treatment. Adopters must be at least 18 years of age and free of any animal abuse convictions.

Upon adopting or purchasing a mustang horse, give the animal time to adjust to its new home and routines. Mustangs need to acclimate to their new surroundings before beginning the gentling and training process. Their fight-or-flight instincts can be strong, so establishing a bond with the horse is vital before attempting training.


In summary, acquiring a mustang horse involves thorough research on their characteristics, essential care, and trainability, alongside finding a reputable source like BLM for adoption or purchase. These wild, adaptable creatures demand a special level of care, patience, and understanding, but having a mustang horse can be a unique and rewarding experience. To ensure a harmonious relationship with a mustang, take the time to establish trust, create strong bonds, and provide proper care for the horse’s physical, mental, and emotional needs. With dedication and commitment, owning a mustang horse can be an exceptional and gratifying addition to your equine family.