The Spanish Mustang really is a breed of its own with a definite physical appearance as well as a true mustang intelligence and athletic ability. Although all Spanish Mustangs originally came over to South America with Christopher Columbus and other early settlers and explorers, they did breed with other horses at later dates, although the true Spanish Mustang remained typical of the Iberian breeds, not like the American Mustang that became inbred with many different horse breeds and types.
The Spanish Mustang is now being preserved through official registries and breeding programs. Those individuals wishing to register a horse as a Spanish Mustang have to pass several tests to allow the horse into the registry. If the horse to be registered is out of a registered Spanish Mustang dam and sire (mare and stallion) the offspring is automatically eligible for registry within the breed association or registry. If only one of the two parents was a Spanish Mustang, the offspring is ineligible for registration in the Spanish Mustang registry, but may qualify for another registry based on its coat color. A good example would be a Spanish Mustang that is buckskin could be registered in the American Buckskin Registry Association or a pinto color could be registered in the Pinto Horse Association of America.
If neither the dam or sire was a registered Spanish Mustang, but there is evidence that they are of Spanish Mustang breeding, the offspring can be registered under specific conditions. The owners must provide as much evidence as possible on the lineage of the parents, which may be relevant if the dam or sire was out of two registered Spanish Mustangs but for some reason was not registered before breeding. In addition the horse that is being registered will need to be presented to a panel of judges from the Spanish Mustang registry board to see if the horse meets the physical breed standards for the Spanish Mustang. Most notably the judges will be looking for the standard physical attributes of the narrow but deep chest, deep girth and laid back shoulders and typical sturdy appearance. In addition the horses must have a low set tail, well rounded croup and short back. The face will have to the typical Iberian face that is described as somewhat dished over the forehead but convex over the nose. This is the really key element in the horse as most horses with any other breeding will have a straight face or a fully dished face and will be ineligible for registry.
Once the horse is registered as a Spanish Mustang the registration is effective for the life of the horse. Should the horse be sold the registration must be transferred to the new owner so he or she can register any offspring from the mare or stallion. The Spanish Mustang registry is very strict about maintaining the purity of the registered horses so no inbreeding or influence of other bloodlines is allowed in the breed under any circumstances. This rigorous guideline is designed to maintain the unique physical aspects as well as the character of the true Spanish Mustang.