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Ancient horse breed making a comeback
Dairy fanner Charles Jahnke recently bought two Spanish mustangs to join in the effort to save the dying breed from extinction.
"Virtually every breed, with the exception of Arabians, has Spanish ancestry," says the 31-year-old farmer from Parkers Prairie, Minn., explaining that the breed was first brought to South America by Spanish conquerors 500 years ago. As missionaries began moving north with the animals, Indians recognized the animal's potential and began a campaign of stealing and trading the horses. White explorers and trappers soon caught on, preferring the sure-footed, eat-anything mustangs over more conventional draft and riding horses. Later on the mustangs were used in the Pony Express.
Two factors nearly wiped out the breed. One was a government campaign to kill or castrate stallions owned by Indians on reservations. Draft horses were brought in their place to encourage the natives to farm.
World War II was the other factor. With ranch-hands fighting in the war, ranchers were forced to let their extra horses go wild.
The horses interbred with the Spanish mustangs, and the breed was almost lost.
In the 1950's a few authentic mustangs were found in Arizona on a reservation and a registry was started for the breed. Now there are about 1,400 of the horses in the U.S. Jahnke bought his pair for $200 apiece from Emmett Brislawn, Oshoto, Wyo., whose father Bob started the campaign to save the Spanish mustang.
Jahnke says the breed has a good disposition. "If they're spooked, they'll run to you for protection," he says. They stand only 13 to 14 hands at most and weigh 700 to 1,000 lbs. They've got tremendous en-durance and have been known to run a 50 mile endurance race in 41/2 hrs. Larger nostrils permit the animal to take in more air. The nostril openings can also be reduced to slits to keep out sand and cold. The horses are hardy and can easily survive the subzero temperatures of Minnesota.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Charles Jahnke, Rt. 2, Box 223, Packers Prairie, Minn. 56361 (ph 218 338-4883).


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1989 - Volume #13, Issue #3