Horses were brought to North America hundreds of years ago. The wild horses we see today are descendants of horses that escaped or were left behind. Mustangs are wild horses.

What does a mustang look like?
Since they live in the wild, mustangs look pretty dirty. They often have scars. You can find many different colors of horses in a herd. Over half of the horses are reddish brown. You can also find grey, black, white, and tan colors. A pinto has a mix of colors.
Male leaders are called stallions. They can be up to five feet tall and weigh 1000 pounds.
Baby horses are called foals. It takes 11 months for a foal to be born.
In their second year, a male is called a colt. A female is called a filly. They are also called yearlings. It takes four to seven years for a colt to become full grown.
What do mustangs eat?
Wild horses eat grass and other plants. They drink water from seeps, springs, streams, or lakes. Adults eat about 5 to 6 pounds of plant food each day.
Each band of horses has a lead female called a mare. The mare leads the family to food and water.


Where can I find a mustang?
Wild horses may roam many miles to find food, water, and shelter. Most wild horses live on public lands in the western United States.
Wild horses stay together for protection. The stallion is the leader and usually stays in back of the band. In the photos below, the stallion is in front of his band for protection.


Who are the friends and enemies of a mustang?
Wolves and coyotes aren't big enough to kill a wild horse. Mountain lion and black bear can kill sick and weak horses. Horses escape their enemies by herding and running.
Humans are both friends and enemies of mustangs.

Today there are less than 20 thousand wild horses roaming public lands. The government says that the land can only handle about 24 thousand horses. Other people think that continuing to decrease the horse population will lead to extinction.

A wild horse adoption program lets people adopt a horse.

More Information


Note: All photographs taken with a digital camera near the Onaqui Mountain Wild Horse Management Area along the Pony Express Trail National Back Country Byway in Utah. (September 1999).

Developed by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 6/99, Updated 4/02.