Wild Horses of the Pryor Mountains

Wild Horses Returning to Their Roots in the Pryor Mountains

For those that often wonder – are there wild horses in America?

The Pryor Mountains of Wyoming and Montana are home to a prevalent member of American history.

The wild horses of the Pryor Mountain range are thought to be decedents of horses brought over by the Spanish in the 16th and 17th centuries. Perhaps stolen or set free, eventually these animals became more of an after thought. Many years went by before people even took notice of the feral horses inhabiting the west.

A Glimpse into the Colonial Era

Looking at the Pryor horses is like a glimpse back in time. These are the horses that helped the Spanish conquistadors ride through the Americas. Equine geneticist have noted these horses do share genes with Spanish horses along with some lighter boned breeds. Most have unique coloring and thick forelocks and manes. It’s not surprising that they may share blood with the Spanish Andalusians.

Wild horse in the Pryor Mountains, photo by Lynne Pomeranz

Back to their Roots

Interestingly, some wild horses are beginning to show traits of ancestors even further back. Dan Flores notes in his book American Serengeti: The Last Big Animals of the Plains, that when left in the wild, horses will begin to develop characteristics similar to their evolutionary counterparts – zebras. It has already been seen in some of the wild stallions and mare. Pryor Mountain horses have been spotted showing dark dorsal stripes along their backs and stripes on their legs.

Side note – check out Joe Rogan’s podcast, episode #942 for a fascinating interview with Dan Flores. Hear him discuss not only the wild horses but the unbelievable  animals that walked the Americas way before humans.

Colt at the Pryor Mountain Horse Range. Photo by Larry Ricker

Despite attempts to eradicate them, the feral horse population is still going strong. Efforts from organizations like the American Prairie Preserve and Pryor Mustangs have helped dramatically in stabilizing the population while protecting the future for the American wild horse.