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Horse Breeds
First Posted July 16, 2009
Dec 16, 2014

Spanish Mustang, Colonial Spanish Horse or Sorraia Type- Many Are Gaited

Spanish Mustang

With Permission from my friend, Cowboy Frank


Country of Origin: Spain

Spanish Mustangs, also called Colonial Spanish Horses, are of great historic importance. They descend from horses introduced from Spain during the age of the conquest of the Americas. They are a type that is mostly or wholly extinct now in Spain.

Spanish Mustangs are sometimes confused with the feral American Mustang, feral horses descended from both Spanish horses and other feral horses escaped from various sources that currently run wild in protected areas of the American west, currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). However, the true Spanish Mustang differs from the "wild" American Mustang in appearance and ancestry.

The History

Spanish Mustangs are of great historic importance in the New World. They descend from horses introduced from Spain during the age of the conquest of the New World. They are a direct remnant of the horses of the Golden Age of Spain and that type is mostly or wholly extinct now in Spain. Confused by many with the feral horses currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), there is a vast difference in both appearance and ancestry. On the brink of extinction in the early part of this century, their salvation can be attributed primarily to Robert E. Brislawn of Oshoto, Wyoming, who founded the Spanish Mustang Registry, Inc. in 1957. Two full brothers, Buckshot and Ute, were his first foundation stallions, sired by a buckskin stallion named Monty and out of Ute Reservation blood on the dam's side. Monty, captured in 1927 in Utah, escaped back to the wild in 1944, taking his mares with him. He was never recaptured.


The Spanish Mustang is an using horse and is versatile and well-equipped to compete in varied fields. At present there are horses competing in team penning, dressage, jumping, polo, competitive trail, showing, driving and gymkhana. In addition there are Spanish Mustangs being used for all types of ranch work. Spanish Mustangs perform well and are used as cow horses. Hundreds were used as U. S. Army cavalry mounts once when fighting the Apache. The American bred horses of the Cavalry were no match for these Spanish descended war ponies in the inhospitable and barren mountains and plains of the West. So the Cavalry fought fire with fire and pursued the Apache mounted on Spanish Mustangs.


Today's Spanish Mustangs retain their stamina and ability to travel long distances without undue stress. Lewis and Clark, upon receiving Spanish Mustangs from the Shoshoni were so impressed with them they said they owed much of the success of their expedition to those tough little horses. Spanish mustangs have historically exhibited a legendary ability to travel great distances without injury.

The Variety of Colors

Colors of the Spanish Mustang vary widely, and it is through the Spanish influence that many other North American horse breeds gain some of their distinctive colors. Spanish Mustangs come in a full range of solid colors including black, bay, brown, chestnut, sorrel, grullo, zebra and red dun, buckskin, palomino, and cremello. In many horses these base colors are combined with white hairs or patches to result in gray, roan, paint, pure white, and the leopard complex of blankets, roans, and dark spots usually associated with the Appaloosa breed.

Breed Standard

The Spanish Mustang Registry, founded in 1957 describes the breed standard as follows:"The Spanish Mustang is a medium sized horse ranging from 13.2 to 15 hands with an average size of approximately 14.2 hands with proportional weight. They are smooth muscled with short backs, rounded rumps and low set tails. Coupling is smooth and the overall appearance is of a well balanced, smoothly built horse. The girth is deep, with well laid back shoulder and fairly pronounced withers. They possess the classic Spanish type head with a straight or concave forehead and a convex nose which is in contrast to the straight forehead and nose of most breeds. Ears are medium to short and usually notched or curved towards each other. Necks are fairly well crested in mares and geldings and heavily crested in mature stallions. Chests are narrow but deep with the front legs joining the chest in an "A" shape rather than straight across. Chestnuts are small or missing altogether, particularly on the rear legs. Ergots are small or absent. Feet are extremely sound with thick walls, many having what is typically known as a "mule foot" which resists bruising due to the concave sole. Canons are short, upper foreleg is long with the canon bone having a larger circumference than other breeds of comparable size and weight. Long strided, many are gaited, with a comfortable gait such as the amble, running walk or single foot. Some individuals are laterally gaited and do a very credible "paso" gait though without extreme knee action. They are remarkably hardy animals and tend to be less prone to injury, particularly of the legs and feet, than other breeds. These magnificent horses were brought to America on Columbus's second voyage to the new world."

For More Information:

Spanish Jennet in Art
The Spanish Mustang Registry
Oklahoma State University - Breeds of Livestock
Listed as "Critical" by The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (2004)
The Cayuse Ranch

Horse Breeds