The Spanish Mustang is a unique breed of horse, not to be confused with the wild Mustang that is found across the southwestern United States as well as parts of western Canada. The Spanish Mustang is the direct descendant of the Iberian breed of horses brought to South American by Christopher Columbus. Regular infusions of other breeding stock from Spain in subsequent years did establish the ancestry for many of the gaited horses from South America. Some of these Spanish horses did get away and begin to run wild, where they were use by Native Indian tribes as horses as well as items for trade. Unlike the Bureau of Land Management or BLM mustangs, the Spanish mustang still bears a striking resemblance in both temperament and appearance to the Iberian breeds of horses that are its direct lineage.
Training the Spanish Mustang involves very careful, positive training methods. While they are not a difficult horse to work with they are a bit more hot blooded in temperament than many of the horses used as general riding horses. They are highly intelligent horses that tend to bore very quickly with highly repetitive training routines and they seem to enjoy a challenge rather than to be constantly asked to perform the same general task.
The Spanish Mustang is very loyal to his or her owner and tends to bond very quickly and strongly to one person. This is a bond that is often amazingly strong with the horse willing to perform difficult activities for the rider they are bonded with while choosing not to perform for someone else. Like the Arabian, the Spanish Mustang is known for having a very long memory for any type of cruelty or abuse. They can be difficult to train for someone not familiar with the breed in that they are naturally independent and until they fully trust the trainer or rider they may be unwilling to go into any type of situation that has the potential to become dangerous for the horse.
Training the Spanish Mustang therefore is done by establishing trust first. Unlike other breeds that are very trusting of everyone, the trainer must be consistent, positive and must be seen as the "leader" through positive interactions. Training should never be done in a way that attempts to "break" the Spanish Mustang's spirit as this can either completely ruin the horse or take all of the natural spark and will out of the horse. Gentling needs to begin as early as possible and the horse should work consistently with the same trainer until the lessons are completed.
The versatility and athletic ability make the Spanish Mustang and ideal horse for almost any type of discipline. Many are used for stock horses, endurance horses, as well as English and western pleasure riding horses. Some of the Spanish Mustangs are naturally gaited and will perform the "paso" or four beat lateral gaits at all speeds. They can also be used as trail competition horses for basic levels where the intelligence of the breed is a real asset.