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(Mouse over photos for descriptions.)

Photos by Karen Parker & John Minium

Help us Support These Rare and Iconic Bloodlines


We invite you to join the Spanish Mustang Spirit of the Black Hills preservation project to support these historic and iconic bloodlines. The genetics these horses’ possess make them as rare a treasure to us as the gold was to the Spaniards. Support our efforts as we preserve these “treasures of the prairie” in the “heart of the hills.”


The Rare Sorraia Mustang
Along with various types of Spanish horses brought to the New World, historians believe it was the wild horse of Iberia (the “marismeño” now known as the Sorraia), or its tamed descendants that Christopher Columbus first brought to the Caribbean Islands. Columbus’ own writings state that he intended for only the finest Andalusian stock of the time to accompany him on his second voyage, however, just before setting sail, fraudulent dealers pulled a switch and “a lower grade” of horse reached Hispañiola in late November of 1493. But instead of the anticipated drawbacks, the unscrupulous substitution proved most advantageous as these common horses were much more capable of enduring the hardships ahead. The fact that we have any remnants of these bloodlines left is a testament to their hardiness and adaptability.

At the BHWHS, we not only provide sanctuary for America’s most unwanted mustangs, but we are taking steps to preserve an original horse created not by Man, but by Mother Nature herself. With less than 200 Sorraia horses left in the world, the BHWHS is one of a few places where research and preservation of the Sorraia mustang will continue, along with a few other private breeders in North America.

Historic Spanish Mustang Lineage
The types of Spanish/Iberian horses we have today in the Americas—reminiscent of the jennet type—include horses from wild strains, Native American strains, Mexican strains, South American strains, and rancher strains. There are Spanish traits that the eye alone can recognize, but we also have the science of mitochondrial DNA now to help prove what was already obvious to many equine hippologists and historians. Mustangs trace their lineage wholly or in part, however diluted, to those early horses brought to the Americas by the conquistadors.


American mustangs with the strongest traits of Spanish ancestry frequently surface in the more remote ranges of public lands which are overseen by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The Kiger herds in Oregon, the Book Cliffs herds in Utah/Colorado, the Sulphur Springs herds in Utah, and other Herd Management Areas (HMAs) all have horses which exhibit Iberian characteristics. These “Spanish Mustang Spirit” horses forever changed the history of man in the Americas, and with your help, we have a unique opportunity to preserve this equine “DNA gold of the Black Hills."

Preservation of Rare Spanish, Choctaw, Sulphur, Kiger, and Sorraia Mustangs



Celebrating 500 Years of the Ancestors of the Spanish Jennet in the Americas

Nearly 100 of our mustangs at the sanctuary, in our special Spanish herds, represent primitive remnants from rare bloodlines of the Golden Age of Spain.


The purpose of this project is to preserve, promote, and educate the public about rare Spanish and Portuguese equine bloodlines still found in today’s American mustangs. Majestic and iconic Spanish jennets came to the New World with the Spanish explorers and conquistadors in search of new lands and riches. The Iberian horses left behind were in many ways worth more than the gold they had discovered in the New World; safeguarding this shrinking treasure chest of genetic wealth from ancient times is the mission of this project, with significant focus on helping to reclaim the Sorraia mustang.


Featured Reading:


*Including an extensive timeline depicting the horse's pervasive role in history.


Celebrating 500 Years of the Ancestors
of the Spanish Jennet in the Americas

"Look back at our struggle for freedom, trace our present day's strength to its source;
and you'll find that man's pathway to glory is strewn with the bones of a horse."  Author Unknown


Fun Ways to Support the Spanish Mustang Spirit Program


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