Even though I haven’t actually done endurance riding myself, it has been a longtime dream of mine and so I have kept up with that aspect of the horse world more than any other. It’s funny to me, how certain breeds other than Arabians get promoted or pushed over the years. (I have never owned an endurance worthy Arab simply because I could not afford one, not because I have anything against the breed.) I recall a few years ago, when people were really pushing gaited horses. Along the way, I have also been privy to a few discussions about pasos, saddlebreds, Morgans, etc.
But there is one new breed being pushed recently that I don’t really “get”, and that is mustangs. Do understand that I am not dissing them, but I have a lot of mustang experience which I believe gives me something of an insider (unbiased) perspective on the breed.
First of all, one of the horses I grew up riding was a mustang mare from the Great Divide Basin in WY. She was a great horse. I was the first real person to put any saddle time on her and I treasure her memory to this day. She was incredibly sweet and gentle and blind in one eye.
But she was not an endurance horse. She was HUGE – not height-wise, but big boned and big muscled, and clumsy as hell.
As an young adult I had this romantic image of mustangs (largely stirred by the Facebook group “Happy Mustangs”) and I went out and acquired 2 more – a practically wild one and his green broke half brother). Interestingly it was the sensitive wild one that I kept until the end (i.e. my divorce 3 years later). Over the years I owned/rode at least 2 other ‘stangs…and after the amount of time I have put into these horses I have formed my own opinion of the breed in general.
IN MY OPINION, and IN GENERAL, they are not really suited to endurance. (NATRC may be a different story!) The reality is that MOST of these horses are going to be big boned, and muscled like your typical stock horse. Also, in my experience (and I am not the only one to observe this btw) they tend to be self preservationists. Which translates to 2 things – they are generally laid back and often quite lazy…AND they are incredibly stubborn.
So in answer to the question, can mustangs do endurance? Of course they can! I believe most sound, healthy horses (with the right kind of management) can go on to complete LDs, and even 50’s. Mustangs can be great horses for those who love them. But are they the next new endurance superstars? Unlikely. In fact they have less chance of success in general than some of the other breeds mentioned earlier in this post. My advice is, if you are shopping for your next non-Arab endurance miracle horse, you are going to encounter the best success when you judge each horse as an individual – rather than determining that you MUST pick a certain breed.