I heard a wonderful story on Wyoming Public Radio the other day about Colonial Spanish Mustangs. And boy did a lot of it sound familiar! There were the common characteristics of these sorts of equines: sure-footed, hardy, small (by equine standards), shaped by their environment, etc. But there were also some other gems.
The reason the story aired on Wyoming Public Radio is because in the early part of the 20th century, a Wyoming family took an interest in the so-called Indian or cow pony that they discovered in their area. Particularly, the family became interested in the type of mustang that could trace their ancestry back to the original equines brought to the Americas by the Spaniards in the 15th and 16th centuries. In time the Brislawn family sought out representatives of these pure types of mustangs and in 1957 established the first registry for Spanish mustangs.
On the home page of the registry is the following statement: “The Spanish Mustang is not to be confused with the BLM Mustang!” So-called BLM mustangs are those wild equines that run on public land and are managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Many of those equines have had outside blood introduced in the past, including draft, Morgan, and Thoroughbred, to create equines that met the needs of locals for horsepower. The desire to emphatically distinguish Spanish Mustangs from BLM Mustangs was one of those things that sounded familiar to me; think “Fell Ponies are not mini-Friesians!”
Here’s some examples of other things that sounded familiar:
- “They get in trouble because they think they know more about what you’re trying to do than you do.”
- “[They’re] a smooth ride because their back is short and their legs are springy. They’re agile, able to make tight turns and stop on a dime, which can send the inexperienced rider tumbling.”
- “I always say I just keep them around for laughs, because they’re always up to something.”
- You don’t need a tall horse; you just need the right horse.
- “You can’t fight ‘em, you can’t be mean to them; you gotta be nice to them.”
Do any of these ring bells for you about Fell Ponies?
If you enjoyed this story, you’ll also be interested in the book Fell Ponies: Observations on the Breed, the Breed Standard, and Breeding, available internationally by clicking here.