Colonial Spanish horse

Colonial Spanish horse is a term popularized by D. Philip Sponenberg for a group of horse breed and feral populations descended from the original Iberian horse stock brought from Spain to the Americas.[1] The ancestral type from which these horses descend was a product of the horse populations that blended between the Iberian horse and the North African Barb.[2] The term encompasses many strains or breeds now found primarily in North America. The status of the Colonial Spanish horse is considered threatened overall with seven individual strains specifically identified.[3][a] The horses are registered by several entities.

The Colonial Spanish horse, a general classification, is not synonymous with the Spanish Mustang, the name given to a specific standardized breed derived from the first concerted effort of conservationists in the United States to preserve horses of Colonial Spanish Type.[1] Colonial Spanish horse blood markers have been found in some mustang populations. Small groups of horses of Colonial Spanish horse type have been located in various groups of ranch-bred, mission, and Native American horses, mostly among those in private ownership.[1]

Colonial Spanish horse
Wild Spanish Colonial Mustangs
The Banker horse is an example of a Colonial Spanish horse
Distinguishing featuresSmall size, Spanish type, blood markers indicating origins in the Iberian Peninsula


Colonial Spanish horses are generally small; the usual height is around 14 hands (56 inches, 142 cm), and most vary from 13.2 to 14 hands (54 to 56 inches, 137 to 142 cm). Weight varies with height, but most are around 700 to 800 pounds (320 to 360 kg). Their heads vary somewhat between long, finely made to shorter and deeper, generally having straight to concave (rarely slightly convex) foreheads and a nose that is straight or slightly convex. The muzzle is usually very fine, and from the side the upper lip is usually longer than the lower, although the teeth meet evenly. Nostrils are usually small and crescent shaped. They typically have narrow but deep chests, with the front legs leaving the body fairly close together. When viewed from the front, the front legs join the chest in an "A" shape rather than straight across as in most other modern breeds that have wider chests. The withers are usually sharp instead of low and meaty. The croup is sloped, and the tail is characteristically set low on the body. From the rear view they are usually "rafter hipped" meaning the muscling of the hip tapers up so the backbone is the highest point. Hooves are small and upright rather than flat.[4]

History in the Americas

Horses first returned to the Americas with the conquistadors, beginning with Columbus, who imported horses from Spain to the West Indies on his second voyage in 1493.[5] Domesticated horses came to the mainland with the arrival of Cortés in 1519.[6] By 1525, Cortés had imported enough horses to create a nucleus of horse-breeding in Mexico.[7] Horses arrived in South America beginning in 1531, and, by 1538, Florida, and scattered throughout the Americas. By one estimate there were at least 10,000 free-roaming horses in Mexico by 1553.[2]

In 2010, the Colonial Spanish mustang was voted the official state horse of North Carolina.[8]

Modern horses

Many gaited horse and stock horse breeds in the United States descend from Spanish horses,[4] but only a few bloodlines are considered to be near-pure descendants of original Spanish stock. Though many are described as horse breeds, it can be debated they are separate breeds or multiple strains of a single large breed. The Livestock Conservancy lists them as one breed, but also calls them "a group of closely related breeds"[4] Various bloodlines or groups of Colonial Spanish horses are registered a number of different Associations.[1]

Although it is a widely held belief that modern mustangs descend from the original Spanish mustangs, genetic analysis supports "the hypothesis that the free-ranging horses in the Great Basin descend from escaped or released domestic draft, saddle, and cavalry animals."[9] but where they have been found to have descended from the original Spanish horses, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other agencies attempt to preserve them.[1] Blood typing, along with phenotype and historical documentation have been used to confirm significant Spanish ancestry of a few BLM managed herds.[10] In 1985, the BLM awarded a grant to the University of California, Davis, to conduct a three-year study on mustang genetics, including the percentage of original (Spanish) mustang blood.[11] Ann T. Bowling and R. W. Touchberry did not find much evidence of Spanish genetics in the Great Basin horses tested, but follow up work by Gus Cothran, then of University of Kentucky, carried on the study and found Spanish markers in the Pryor Mountain and Cerbat herds outside the Great Basin, and Sulphur Springs herd within it,[12] later confirming the findings for the Sulphur Springs herd through mtDNA sequencing analysis.[2][b] Sponenberg has confirmed that the four herds listed below meet the qualifications of Colonial Spanish jorses.[1]

Colonial Spanish horses include numerous strains, which may be feral populations or standardized breeds:

A number of breeds in Latin America with Iberian DNA markers are of Spanish type and origin.[2][c] Many of these breeds come from different North American foundation bloodstock,[1] and some have haplotypes not found in North America.[2]


  1. ^ Those identified are the Baca-Chica, Banker Horse, Choctaw, Florida Cracker, Marsh Tacky, Santa Cruz, and Wilbur-Cruce.[3]
  2. ^ Cothran may have found Spanish markers in other herds listed by the BLM as having been determined by "genetic analysis" to be similar to Iberian breeds. However, when Cothran left Kentucky for Texas A&M University, he began using microsatellite DNA analysis to determine genetic diversity of feral herds rather than blood typing, but the DNA analysis was less accurate in determining ancestry.[12] Some breeders and horse associations have used blood typing results to prove or disprove horses are of Spanish ancestry, but Sponenberg urges caution, noting that some horses of Spanish type may not carry the expected Iberian blood types. Conversely, some horses that lack Spanish type, such as certain strains of the American Quarter Horse, may have blood markers but not the proper phenotype.[1]
  3. ^ This include the Argentine Criollo, Brazilian Criollo, Campolina, Chilean Criollo, Chilote, Mangalarga, Mangalarga Marchador, Pantaneiro, Paso Fino, Peruvian Paso, and Venezuelan Spanish.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Sponenberg, D. Philip, North American Colonial Spanish Horse Update July 2011
  2. ^ a b c d e f Luis, Cristina; Bastos-Silveira, Cristiane; Cothran, E. Gus; Oom, Maria do Mar (17 February 2006). "Iberian Origins of New World Horse Breeds". Journal of Heredity. 97 (2): 107–113. doi:10.1093/jhered/esj020. PMID 16489143. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g The Livestock Conservancy
  4. ^ a b c "Colonial Spanish Horse". The Livestock Conservancy. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
  5. ^ Bennett, p. 14
  6. ^ Bennett, p. 193
  7. ^ Bennett, p. 205
  8. ^ "Outer Banks Wild Horses".
  9. ^ National Research Council, 2013, pp. 278–79
  10. ^ Sponenberg, D. Philip. History, Blood Typing and "Just Looking": Evaluating Spanish Horses (Report).
  11. ^ National Research Council (1991), Wild Horse Populations: Field Studies in Genetics and Fertility: Report to the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington D.C.: The National Academies Press, p. 66
  12. ^ a b c d e National Research Council, 2013, p. 152
  13. ^ "The Extinct Horses of Great Abaco Island May Live Again". 31 July 2017. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  14. ^ a b c Conant, E.K.; Juras, Rytis; Cothran, E.G. (February 2012). "A microsatellite analysis of five Colonial Spanish horse populations of the southeastern United States". Animal Genetics. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2052.2011.02210.x.
  15. ^ Stillman, Deanne (2009). Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West (1st Mariner Books ed.). Boston: Mariner Books / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 281. ISBN 9780547526133.
  16. ^ a b Lynghaug, Fran (2009). The Official Horse Breeds Standards Guide: The Complete Guide to the Standards of All North American Equine Breed Association (TSC ed.). Voyageur Press. p. 672. ISBN 9780760338049.


Abaco Barb

The Abaco Barb or Abaco Spanish Colonial Horse was a breed or population of feral horses on the island of Great Abaco, in the Bahamas. It became extinct in 2015;:2 it was the only horse breed of the Bahamas.:481

American Cream Draft

The American Cream Draft is the only draft horse breed developed in the United States that is still in existence. A rare horse breed today, it is recognized by its cream color, known as "gold champagne", produced by the action of the champagne gene upon a chestnut base color, and by its amber eyes, also characteristic of the gene; the only other color found in the breed is chestnut. Like several other breeds of draft horses, the American Cream is at risk for the autosomal recessive genetic disease junctional epidermolysis bullosa.

The breed was developed in Iowa during the early 20th century, beginning with a cream-colored mare named Old Granny. The Great Depression threatened the breed's existence, but several breeders worked to improve the color and type of the breed, and in 1944 a breed registry was formed. The mechanization of farming in the mid-20th century led to a decrease in the breed's population and the registry became inactive for several decades. It was reactivated in 1982 and population numbers have slowly grown since then. However, population numbers are still considered critical by The Livestock Conservancy and the Equus Survival Trust.

American Indian Horse

The American Indian Horse is defined by its breed registry as a horse that may carry the ancestry of the Spanish Barb, Arabian, Mustang, or "Foundation" Appaloosa. It is the descendant of horses originally brought to the Americas by the Spanish and obtained by Native American people. The registry was created in 1961 when some breeders of Colonial Spanish Horse bloodlines considered the Spanish Mustang breeders to be departing from the original "Indian horse" phenotype. The organization was started "for the purpose of collecting, recording and preserving the pedigrees of American Indian Horses." The registry also allows the "hybrids [sic] and descendants" of the original Spanish Colonial Horse to be registered. Horses registered with other breed registries to be double-registered with this organization if the horses meet the conformation requirements.

Banker horse

The Banker horse is a breed of feral horse (Equus ferus caballus) living on barrier islands in North Carolina's Outer Banks. It is small, hardy, and has a docile temperament. Descended from domesticated Spanish horses and possibly brought to the Americas in the 16th century, the ancestral foundation bloodstock may have become feral after surviving shipwrecks or being abandoned on the islands by one of the exploratory expeditions led by Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón or Sir Richard Grenville. Populations are found on Ocracoke Island, Shackleford Banks, Currituck Banks, and in the Rachel Carson Estuarine Sanctuary.

Although they can trample plants and ground-nesting animals and are not considered to be indigenous to the islands, Bankers are allowed to remain due to their historical significance. They survive by grazing on marsh grasses, which supply them with water as well as food, supplemented by temporary freshwater pools.

To prevent overpopulation and inbreeding, and to protect their habitat from being overgrazed, the horses are managed by the National Park Service, the state of North Carolina, and several private organizations. The horses are monitored for diseases, such as equine infectious anemia, an outbreak of which was discovered and subsequently eliminated on Shackleford in 1996. They are safeguarded from traffic on North Carolina Highway 12. Island populations are limited by adoptions and by birth control. Bankers taken from the wild and trained have been used for trail riding, driving, and occasionally for mounted patrols.

Cerbat mustang

The Cerbat mustang is a feral horse population of Arizona, found in the Cerbat Herd Management Area in that state. Their main coat colors are chestnut, bay, and roan. While their phenotype is similar to the classic Colonial Spanish Horse, the actual origin of Cerbat mustangs is unclear, but they have been identified by DNA testing as of Colonial Spanish horse ancestry, and they are recognized by the Spanish Mustang registry as valid foundation stock for that standardized breed. Cerbats possess the ability to gait.

Curly Horse

A Curly is a breed of horse. Curlies, also called Bashkir Curlies, American Bashkir Curlies, and North American Curly Horses, come in all sizes, colors, and body types but all carry a gene for a unique curly coat of hair.

Cusco School

The Cusco School (Escuela Cuzqueña) or Cuzco School, was a Roman Catholic artistic tradition based in Cusco, Peru (the former capital of the Inca Empire) during the Colonial period, in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. It was not limited to Cuzco only, but spread to other cities in the Andes, as well as to present day Ecuador and Bolivia.There are high amount of Cusco School's paintings preserved, currently most of them are located at Cusco, but also currently there are in the rest of Peru and in museums of Brazil, England and United States.

Florida Cracker Horse

The Florida Cracker Horse is a breed of horse from Florida in the United States. It is genetically and physically similar to many other Spanish-style horses, especially those from the Spanish Colonial Horse group. The Florida Cracker is a gaited breed known for its agility and speed. The Spanish first brought horses to Florida with their expeditions in the early 16th century; as colonial settlement progressed, they used the horses for herding cattle. These horses developed into the Florida Cracker type seen today, and continued to be used by Florida cowboys (known as "crackers") until the 1930s.

At this point they were superseded by American Quarter Horses needed to work larger cattle brought to Florida during the Dust Bowl, and population numbers declined precipitously. Through the efforts of several private families and the Florida government, the breed was saved from extinction, but there is still concern about its low numbers. Both The Livestock Conservancy and the Equus Survival Trust consider breed numbers to be at a critical point.

Hernán Venegas Carrillo

Hernán Venegas Carrillo Manosalvas (c.1513 – 2 February 1583) was a Spanish conquistadorfor who participated in the Spanish conquest of the Muisca and Panche people in the New Kingdom of Granada, present-day Colombia. Venegas Carrillo was mayor of Santa Fe de Bogotá for two terms; in 1542 and from 1543 to 1544.

Horses in the United States

Horses in the United States have significant popularity and status that is acknowledged by a number of observers and researchers. There are about 9.2 million horses in the country and 4.6 million citizens are involved in the horse business. In addition, there are about 82,000 feral horses that roam freely in a wild state in certain parts of the country.

The horse evolved in the Americas, but became extinct between 8,000 and 12,000 years ago. When the Spanish arrived on the American mainland in the 16th century, they brought horses with them and re-established the animals on the continent.

List of North American horse breeds

This is a list of horse breeds usually considered to originate or have developed in Canada and the United States. Some may have complex or obscure histories, so inclusion here does not necessarily imply that a breed is predominantly or exclusively from those countries.

List of South Carolina state symbols

The state of South Carolina has many official state symbols, holidays and designations and they have been selected to represent the history, resources, and possibilities of the state. The palmetto and crescent moon of the state flag is South Carolina's best-known symbol. It is seen on shirts and bumperstickers and is often adapted throughout the state to show support for collegiate teams or interest in particular sports activities.

List of U.S. state horses

Twelve U.S. states have designated a horse breed as the official state horse. The first state horse was designated in Vermont in 1961. The most recent state designations occurred in 2010, when North Carolina and South Carolina both declared state breeds. There have been proposals to designate a state horse in Oregon as well as in Arizona (where an ongoing campaign sought to designate the Colonial Spanish Horse as the state horse prior to the state centennial in 2012), but neither proposal is yet successful. In one state, North Dakota, the state horse is officially designated the "honorary state equine." Two additional states have not designated a specific state horse, but have designed a horse or horse breed as its official state animals: the horse in New Jersey and the Morgan horse breed in Vermont.

Some breeds, such as the American Quarter Horse in Texas and the Morgan horse in Vermont and Massachusetts, were named as the state horse because of the close connection between the history of the breed and the state. Others, including the Tennessee Walking Horse and the Missouri Fox Trotter, include the state in the official breed name. School children have been persuasive lobbyists for the cause of some state horses, such as the Colonial Spanish Horse being named the state horse of North Carolina due to the presence of the Spanish-descended Banker horses in the Outer Banks, while others have been brought to official status through the lobbying efforts of their breed registries.

Official state horses are one of many state symbols officially designated by states. Each state has its own flag and state seal, and many states also designate other symbols, including animals, plants, and foods. Such items usually are designated because of their ties to the culture or history of that particular state. In addition to being state symbols in their own right, horses have also appeared in state symbols; for example, a horse's head appears on the Seal of New Jersey.

List of horse breeds

This page is a list of horse and pony breeds, and also includes terms for types of horse that are not breeds but are commonly mistaken for breeds. While there is no scientifically accepted definition of the term "breed", a breed is defined generally as having distinct true-breeding characteristics over a number of generations. Its members may be called "purebred". In most cases, bloodlines of horse breeds are recorded with a breed registry. The concept is somewhat flexible in horses, as open stud books are created for developing horse breeds that are not yet fully true-breeding.

Registries also are considered the authority as to whether a given breed is listed as a "horse" or a "pony". There are also a number of "color breed", sport horse, and gaited horse registries for horses with various phenotypes or other traits, which admit any animal fitting a given set of physical characteristics, even if there is little or no evidence of the trait being a true-breeding characteristic. Other recording entities or specialty organizations may recognize horses from multiple breeds, thus, for the purposes of this article, such animals are classified as a "type" rather than a "breed".

The breeds and types listed here are those that already have a Wikipedia article. For a more extensive list, see the List of all horse breeds in DAD-IS.

For additional information, see horse breed, horse breeding, and the individual articles listed below. Additional articles may be listed under Category:Horse breeds and Category:Types of horse.


Mustang is the free-roaming horse of the American west that first descended from horses brought to the Americas by the Spanish. Mustangs are often referred to as wild horses, but because they are descended from once-domesticated horses, they are properly defined as feral horses. The original mustangs were Colonial Spanish horses, but many other breeds and types of horses contributed to the modern mustang, now resulting in varying phenotypes. Some free-roaming horses are relatively unchanged from the original Spanish stock, most strongly represented in the most isolated populations.

In 1971, the United States Congress recognized that "wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West, which continue to contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people." The free-roaming horse population is managed and protected by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Controversy surrounds the sharing of land and resources by mustangs with the livestock of the ranching industry, and also with the methods by which the BLM manages their population numbers. The most common method of population management used is rounding up excess population and offering them to adoption by private individuals. There are inadequate numbers of adopters, so many once free-roaming horses now live in temporary and long-term holding areas with concerns that the animals may be sold for horse meat. Additional debate centers on the question of whether mustangs—and horses in general—are a native species or an introduced invasive species in the lands they occupy.

Nokota horse

The Nokota horse is a feral and semi-feral horse breed located in the badlands of southwestern North Dakota in the United States. The breed developed in the 19th century from foundation bloodstock consisting of ranch-bred horses produced from the horses of local Native Americans mixed with Spanish horses, Thoroughbreds, harness horses and related breeds. The Nokota was almost wiped out during the early 20th century when ranchers, in cooperation with state and federal agencies, worked together to reduce competition for livestock grazing. However, when Theodore Roosevelt National Park was created in the 1940s, a few bands were inadvertently trapped inside, and thus were preserved.

In 1986, the park sold off a large number of horses, including herd stallions, and released several stallions with outside bloodlines into the herds. At this point, brothers Leo and Frank Kuntz began purchasing the horses with the aim of preserving the breed, and founded the Nokota Horse Conservancy in 1999, later beginning a breed registry through the same organization. Later, a second, short-lived, registry was begun by another organization in Minnesota. In 2009, the North Dakota Badlands Horse Registry was created, which registers the slightly different type of horses which have been removed from the park in recent years. Today, the park conducts regular thinning of the herd to keep numbers between 70 and 110, and the excess horses are sold off.

The Nokota horse has an angular frame, is commonly blue roan in color, and often exhibits an ambling gait called the "Indian shuffle". The breed is generally separated into two sections, the traditional and the ranch type, which differ slightly in conformation and height. They are used in many events, including endurance riding, western riding and English disciplines.

Quito School

The Quito School (Escuela Quiteña) is a Latin American artistic tradition that constitutes essentially the whole of the professional artistic output developed in the territory of the Royal Audience of Quito — from Pasto and Popayán in the north to Piura and Cajamarca in the south — during the Spanish colonial period (1542-1824). It is especially associated with the 17th and 18th centuries and was almost exclusively focused on the religious art of the Catholic Church in the country. Characterized by a mastery of the realistic and by the degree to which indigenous beliefs and artistic traditions are evident, these productions were among of the most important activities in the economy of the Royal Audience of Quito. Such was the prestige of the movement even in Europe that it was said that King Carlos III of Spain (1716–1788), referring to one of its sculptors in particular, opined: "I am not concerned that Italy has Michelangelo; in my colonies of America I have the master Caspicara".

Spanish Mustang

The Spanish Mustang is an American horse breed descended from horses brought from Spain during the early conquest of the Americas. They are classified within the larger grouping of the Colonial Spanish horse, a type that today is rare in Spain. By the early 20th century, most of the once-vast herds of mustangs that had descended from the Spanish horses had been greatly reduced in size. Seeing that these horses were on the brink of extinction, some horseman began making efforts to find and preserve the remaining "Spanish Mustangs" drawing stock from feral and Native American herds, as well as ranch stock. The breed was one of the first to be part of a concerted preservation effort for horses of Spanish phenotype, and a breed registry was founded in 1957.

The Spanish Mustang as a modern domesticated breed differs from the feral free-roaming mustang. The latter animals are descended from both Spanish horses and other domesticated horses escaped or released from various sources; many run wild in Herd Management Areas (HMAs) of the western United States, currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Some feral herds also exist in Canada. DNA studies indicate that Spanish breeding and type does still exist in some feral Mustang herds, including those on the Cerbat HMA (near Kingman, Arizona), Pryor Mountain HMA (Montana), Sulphur HMA (Utah), and Kiger HMA.

The Livestock Conservancy

The Livestock Conservancy, formerly known as the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) and prior to that, the American Minor Breeds Conservancy, is a nonprofit organization focused on preserving and promoting rare breeds, also known as "heritage breeds" of livestock. Founded in 1977, through the efforts of livestock breed enthusiasts concerned about the disappearance of many of the US's heritage livestock breeds, the Conservancy was the pioneer livestock preservation organization in the United States, and remains a leading organization in that field. It has initiated programs that have saved multiple breeds from extinction, and works closely with similar organizations in other countries, including Rare Breeds Canada. With 3,000 members, a staff of nine and a 19-member board of directors, the organization has an operating budget of almost half a million dollars.

The Livestock Conservancy maintains a conservation priority list that divides endangered breeds of horses, asses, sheep, goats, cattle, rabbits, pigs and poultry into five categories based on population numbers and historical interest. The organization has published several books, and works with breed registries and other groups on several aspects of breed preservation, including genetic testing, historical documentation, animal rescue and marketing. Preservation of genetic material is of special interest to the Conservancy, and for a period of time it maintained a gene bank that was later transferred to the United States Department of Agriculture. It has also developed and published several heritage definitions, including parameters for heritage breeds of cattle and poultry.

In large part due to the efforts of the organization, heritage turkey populations have increased more than tenfold in little over a decade, and several breeds that once stood on the brink of extinction now maintain healthy populations. The organization also sustains programs that deal with preserving and promoting endangered cattle and pig breeds, as well as breed-specific programs relating to many of its livestock categories. Breeds that the Conservancy has assisted in saving include the Carolina Marsh Tacky horse, Randall cattle, Red Wattle hogs and the American rabbit.

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