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ABOUT THE HORSES

The Pryor Mountain Wild Horses are unique. Cortez once said "...Next to God, we owed the victory to the horses..." in discussing his conquest of the New World. The Pryor Mountain Wild Horses are the descendents of these important horses. They are truly horses with a heritage.

Early on, locals realized that there was something special about the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses due to their interesting characteristics. It wasn't long until it was realized that the wild horses looked like Spanish horses. Since then, the herd has been extensively studied; and it has been confirmed that they are descended from Spanish horses. There are three main reasons this confirmation is based on: History, genetics, and phenotype.

The history of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses is not well known. There are accounts of the wild horses being present in the late 1800's, and many people believe that there were wild horses in the Pryor Mountains in the early to mid-1700's. At the Center, we believe the herd is descended from Spanish horses brought to the area by different Native American tribes, especially the Crow. Many other share this belief, though some other plausible explanations have also been proposed. Starting in the mid-1990's, studies were done on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses to determine genetic traits of the herd, such as their level of inbreeding and what type of horse the herd was most genetically related to. From these studies, it was determined that the herd has high genetic diversity, meaning they have low levels of inbreeding. It was also determined that the herd has genetic traits consistent with Spanish horses and that the herd lacks genetic traits that would have originated in draft or thoroughbred ancestors. Around this same time, there were also studies on the phenotype of the herd. That is, these studies were concerned with determining if the wild horses looked like Spanish horses. These studies confirmed that the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses indeed had colors and conformation consistent with Spanish horses.

Because of the above reasons, we and many others believe that the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses really are descendents of Spanish horses. They are a type of horse today known as the Colonial Spanish Horse or the Spanish Mustang, which is considered a rare and endangered breed.

 

Tlaxcalan Codex, 1577, Conquistadors

Tlaxcalan Codex, 1577, unloading horse from ship

Images from the Tlaxcalan Codex (1577). Top: Spanish mounted soldiers. Bottom: Horse unloaded from Spanish ship.

 
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