Pryor Mountain Mustang

El Morro (The Black) shows typical Pryor Mountain Mustang conformation. The horses carry themselves well balanced, with brio and pride. Narrow front placement of legs and well-developed heart girth give them their gait and incredible stamina. Well boned, without being coarse, the horse is pleasing to the eye. Feet are well balanced with size of horse and bone and are incredibly hard, rarely needing shoes.


For decades, ranchers living on the Wyoming/Montana border, near the Pryor Mountains, have seen wild horses running across the ridges, through the red deserts, navigating the steep canyons and grazing the high meadows. Data, historical records and anecdotal information verifies that wild horses have existed in the Pryor Mountains long before settlement of the area.

The late Bessie Tillett, whose family homesteaded the area, recalled seeing the horses when they arrived. Rev. Floyd Schweiger has studied the Pryor horses for more than 40 years and has been a staunch advocate for their preservation as a unique herd. The Universities of West Virginia and Kentucky have studied the Pryor Mountain Mustangs extensively. Dr. D. P. Sponenberg, DVM, Ph.D. University of West Virginia Veterinary College confirms that these horses show phenotypes that are consistent with Spanish origin. He further describes the relationship of the Pryor horses with the Paso breeds as being “cousins”. He states that the conformation and colors of the Pryor herd, “especially the relatively high proportion of black and black based colors is consistent with a Spanish origin.” Black based colors include striped grullo and dun, blue roan, bay as well as black. According to Dr. E. Gus Cothran, University of Kentucky, “The combination of evidence points to almost certain Spanish origins of the Pryor horses. According to Dr. E. Gus Cothran, U of KY, “The combination of evidence points to almost certain Spanish origins of the Pryor horses. The Spanish brought a horse that was an easy traveler to help with their explorations of the New World. Gait is a genetic trait and the Pryors exhibit the gait so prized in the Spanish horses.

No one is able to document how the horses were introduced to the area. It is suspected that they may have been captured and put in place by the Crow Indians as early as the 1700s. The range is on the major migration routes of the Crow and Shoshone Indian tribes. The area is very rough and inaccessible, which has kept the herd isolated and prevented interbreeding with domestic stock turned loose by the Army and ranchers.

Pryor Mountain Mustang Breed Standard

Height: Typical height is 13.1 HH to 15.1 HH, average at 14.2HH. Horses brought in from the range in the Pryor Mountains are generally on the smaller side of the scale. Horses bred in captivity are usually taller. Good nutrition in captivity allows for development of the taller horse, whereas sparse feed on the range, especially in winter, tends to favor horses of a thrifty size.

Coat: Coats are course to fine. Some exhibit can exhibit wavy coats. Some have curly or kinky mane and tails. Manes are often very long and silky, hanging well below the neck. Tails are long, usually touching the ground. Many duns and grullos have two-toned tails and manes as do some of the other colors. Coats are very thick in winter, even on the fine haired horses.

Color: Pryor Mountain Mustangs come in all colors, with dominant colors of Dun, Red Dun, Grullo, Black, Bay, Blue and Red Roans, sorrel, Brown and Chestnut. Paints are not typical of the Pryor Mountain Horses. Many Pryor Mountain Mustangs are born showing evidence of the striped legs common to the grullo and dun, primitive horse color markings. As they grow into adulthood, solid color horses stripes disappear.

Head: The heads of the Pryor Mountain Mustangs are of medium length and very clean. They have a broad, flat forehead, with soft, wide-set eyes. Eyes are usually almond shaped and expressive. Viewed from the front, the muzzle is narrow and refined. Ears are deep set, alert and expressive, usually showing a mild to pronounced inward curve at the tips. The profile shows the typical Iberian head, somewhat convex at the nose that flares just above the muzzle. The nostrils are crescent shaped at rest and expand fully when aroused. The forelock is generous, long, and silky and can hang to the end of the nose. Jaw is clean and well defined.

El Cid (The Valiant One), Pryor Mountain stallion, shows typical head conformation. Note slight flaring just above the muzzle (Iberian profile), wide-set, soft almond eyes, crescent shaped nostrils and slightly kinked mane. El Cid shows the crested neck, withers, and sloping shoulders typical of the breed. Note wither bars, common on duns and grullos. Deep heart girth is accented by nicely tied-in loins.

Neck: Neck is of medium length, proportionate to size, and well inserted into the shoulders. The neck can be slightly crested in geldings and mares that are in good flesh. Stallions tend to a more crested neck. The neck is often accented with the long, silky mane. At maturity, the mane can hang well down the shoulder and below the neck.

Withers: Withers are well defined with a smooth transition from the neck to the back.

Shoulders: Shoulders are long and sloping and match natural slant of pasterns.

Chest: Viewed from the front, the chest is narrow. The legs are wide set in the narrow chest. Viewed from the side, the Pryor Mountain Mustang shows a deep heart girth, contributing to the breed”s stamina and endurance.

Legs: Legs show well-developed bone, but are definitely not course. Cannons are long with well-pronounced tendons. Pasterns are sloped. Fetlocks can be dry or showing up to medium hair. Hocks are long and well developed.

Feet: Hooves are well formed, consistent in size with legs and are not big or small, but well balanced with the horse. Hoof wall is thick and tough and rarely do they need shoes, even on hard ground. Frog is concave and hard.

Buttocks: Buttocks are short and in the well-fed horse are rounded. Thinner horses show the typical rafter hip structure. Tail is set low.

Estrella Nocturna, grullo dam and baby, Bailadora Estrella. Note mane and forelock on dam, rafter shaped hips and back profile. Foal has curly hair and bi-colored mane and tail, leg stripes hidden under white baby fuzz, withers barring and dorsal stripe.

Back: Back is straight, strong and short in length.

Temperament: The temperament is noble and kind, with proud head carriage. They are very intelligent, quick, and willing learners. They are usually not aggressive and once acquainted with humans are very trusting. They tend to bond with their human trainers and riders and become a loyal companion and mount. They like people and can easily switch allegiance to a new caregivers, trainers, etc. Foals are extremely inquisitive and friendly from the moment of birth. While protective of babies, dams are relatively comfortable with the inquisitive foals nuzzling humans.

Foals are extremely curious and unafraid.

Foals: Foals are born small, 50 to 75 pounds. They have well developed bones and are up and running shortly after birth, exhibiting agility very early. Foal colors often change from birth to maturity. They continue go grow well into their 4th and 5th years.

Movement: Pryor Mountain horses are extremely well balanced and agile. They naturally exhibit many of the movements seen in dressage and the airs of the Spanish horse. They have high knee action resembling the “termino” gait seen in the Paso horses. Their gait is a diagonal footfall, i.e., right front and left rear move simultaneously. The Prior Mountain Mustangs can climb rock walls, cliffs, corrals and other obstacles that are as high as their own head. They make wonderful dressage horses using their natural balance. They carry their weight well forward and can execute spins and other quick movements. They are very sure footed and can negotiate any terrain.

Strength and Endurance: Pryor Mountain Horses have incredible strength and endurance that is legendary. They can easily carry up to 1/3 or more of their own weight without any ill effects. Obviously the horse needs to be conditioned to the task. (Domestic horses usually max out at 1/4 of their body weight.) They have incredible stamina when in condition and make superb endurance horses.

Health and Nutrition: The Pryor Mountain Mustang is an easy keeper. They do not require special diets and will stay healthy and thrifty on any clean hay. They will happily eat leaves and twigs that blow into their pens. They do not require any special health care or nutritional supplements. In the wild, they can survive on tree bark, weeds, leaves, anything that provides a bit of nutrition.

Training: Pryor Mountain Mustangs are not difficult to train. They are extremely intelligent. Their wild heritage gives them a wariness that protects them from predators and danger. The key to training the Pryor Mountain Mustang is trust. Give the horse some time to get to know you and they will form a bond. Once you gain their trust, they learn quickly. They do very well with the new, gentle training methods. In other words, lead and they will follow. Push and they will learn to fight. They are not normally of a fighting nature, but will learn to protect themselves from danger, even if it is you. At the ranch, we use Round Pen training and have never had a Pryor Mountain Mustang learn to fight us. (Remember, humans are predators, higher up on the food chain. We look like predators, eyes in the front of our heads and we small like predators.)

El Dorado “Raider” a saffron dun. His head shows the fine muzzle, “comma” shaped nostrils, wide set eyes and intelligent look. He is extremely gaited and agile


Registration Requirements

Completed PMMBA (Pryor Mountain Mustang Breeders Association) application.

Copy of the BLM adoption certificate or a statement from the owner where purchased with copy of parents registration.

Certificate of blood typing from the University of Kentucky.

Photographs of your horse on all four sides.

Registration fee.