About The Horses

The Pryor Mountain Wild Horses are unique. They are descendants of the horses that helped the Spanish colonize the Southwest. These are the same horses mentioned by Cortez in describing his conquest of Central America. “…Next to God, we owed the victory to the horses…” They are truly horses with a heritage.

How do we know this? The Pryor horses still exhibit their Spanish characteristics, both genetically and visually. Blood tests performed on many Pryor horses confirm that they have strong Spanish blood. They also have a unique appearance. The Pryor horses come in primitive colors, especially dun, grulla, black, and bay with roan versions of these colors as well. The duns and grullas can have visible “zebra” stripes on their backs, legs, and faces. The Pryor horses also have a special conformation. They are small, averaging about 14 hands to the wither. They have slender, V-shaped faces and large wide-set eyes. Their ears are pointy and curve in.  Their croup is sloping, and their tails are low-set. There are a number of other conformational characteristics that the Pryor horses exhibit, but the above are the easiest to see.

The Pryor horses are traditionally separated into three subgroups based on where they most often roam: The Burnt Timber, Sykes Ridge, and Dryhead horses. The Burnt Timber and Sykes Ridge horses live on East Pryor Mountain while the Dryhead horses live in the lowland deserts adjacent to the mountain, especially the Bighorn Canyon area. To keep it less confusing, when I talk about the horses here I will categorize them into either Mountain Horses (Burnt Timber plus Sykes Ridge) or Dryhead horses.

Published on August 17, 2007 at 12:28 pm  Comments (28)  

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  1. Hi Matthew,
    Great blog-love the pictures and the stories of the horses. You are doing a wonderful job of being diplomatic about your view of the horses. Your love of the mountains and respect for the animals certainly are evident. We look forward to future stories about these tgreasures.

  2. I think we should all take a moment to give thanks to Pierre and all the good things he has done to ensure the blood of the mustang will live on!

  3. Matt- I was wondering if you could let us know the conformational differences between the Pryor horses, other mustangs, and “papered” or even backyard bred horses. You’ve mentioned some features but I’m curious to know the others. Pictures showing those differences would be great tools, but I understand if this is not practical. Just a suggestion.

  4. The special conformation of the Pryor horses is really interesting. I think I will try and put up a section featuring their colors and conformation soon. In the meantime, I will describe the features easiest to see here. Perhaps the first noticeable feature is their size – They average about 14 hands. They also have distinctive faces. Their eyes are wide set, but their face tapers down to a small nose and mouth. Their ears are smaller, pointy, and point inwards. They have shorter backs and sloping croups. They also have low set tails. As you have said, it is easier to get what I mean by this if you actually see them, especially if you have an image of a different horse breed nearby to compare them to. This is what I am wanting to do for another page on the blog.

  5. Matt,
    These horses have become a large part of my life as I think they are yours and many others. I love the horses that I have, but they live a life of leisure. This is something that the Pryor Mountain horses do not. I think about them every day. When I am out feeding my brood I think about where the wild horses are getting their food. I saw the the climate that they live in and I wonder where they are getting their grass from. I have to admit that Fools Crow is one of my favorites, but I also worry about the other horses and their bands. Thay are all very special in their own ways. Again thanks for listening and if there is ever anything I can do for you or your horses just let me know. Because in my heart I think of them as your horses. I don’t mean to add any pressure to your life, but we all kind’a count on you to help keep “our” horses healthy and happy.

  6. I have read many responses from others that care about the Pryor Mountain horses and I think that
    we all really appreciate the work that you are doing. I do not, however think that all of us appreciate the amount of work that it entails. Thanks again for what you do. We could all use a pat on the back now and again. God knows that you deserve at least that much

  7. Thank you very much for your compliment and support! I really do love getting to share my photos and stories with everyone. I’ve started to realize how lucky I am to get to do this on such a regular basis, so I want to try and give others an idea of how special the Pryor horses are.
    Thanks again!

  8. I have tried to send you the pictures that I took on my trip to the mountains and I cannot get anywhere on the e-mail address that is on your card. If this is not a valid address let me know. I have a lot of pictures that I think you would love to have

  9. Thank you so much for keeping us in contact with what is going on with “our horses”.The Pryor Mountain horse have become a big part of my life I love them as if they were my own. I worry about them the same as I do my own horses. I really love the fact that Bigfoot is doing as well as he is despite the injury on his left knee. This can only attribute to the fact that our horses can overcome their physical flaws. I am a little worried about Phoenix. She looks a little thin to me. The fact that I can see her ribs showing worries me just a little. The main thing I look for in my horses is whether or not I can see their ribs. I don’t want to let them get fat, but I do not want them to get too thin either.I ahve a fair amount of pasture and I like to think that they can live off of it for most of the year, but I keep a close eye on them and if they start falling off I will take immediate action. God knows that they don’t have to do a lot to earn thair keep, other than satisfy my need to watch them run but I do need to know that they are healthy. Because I have become so attached to your horses I feel the same about them. I really plan to visit you next year and would like to see the horses that hang out around Penn”s cabin. Unfortunately, we could not find a place to rent a 4 wheel drive vehicle that could take us there. I realize that you are working on that and I really apppreciate that.Let me know if you can make that happen. If not, I know that you have a Jeep and I would be more than happy to ride in the back seat.

  10. I have just found your blog. WOW!! I love seeing the pics of the different bands. I would really like to hear more stories about the individual horses. Maybe even a family tree? just a thought. Somtimes you need a playbook to keep up with the players.

  11. Matt, I can only hope that you got my message. PLease tell me if I am wrong. I am not sure if I interperated the e-mail right, but if I did I am not happy. Please do not tell me that the BLM is actually wondering if the current herd of Pryor Mountain horses are worth the amount of money they are spending on them. I am pretty sure that our government has spent a whole lot more on a whole lot less on less worthy causes. I think that between you and I and the people that are with us we could totally sway the thinking of those that think they know what what is best for our country. I might have to stop and think that my way of thinking has a lot to do with the fact that that I am mostly Native American and to this day I still have to stand up for the animals, other than human, than deserve to be heard

  12. Lanny,

    I’m happy to hear you enjoy the blog! I have considered a family tree page on the blog, but I don’t really have a great way to build one to show. One thing I may do in the future is keep an updated copy of my list here; it lists the parents for the horses on it.
    Thanks for your interest!

  13. I haven’t received your emails yet, perhaps just try sending them to the info@pryormustangs.org address.

    Phoenix is perhaps looking a little more rough right now. She is getting old, and she has had a lot of offspring – She has seven living on the range right now if I remember right. If she did die this winter, it would be sad; but she leaves behind a pretty big legacy. It is hard with the wild horses as they do have harder lives that can be difficult to watch. It’s something I have had to temper my emotions for.

    Things are looking great for tours next summer, so I am confident that you’ll be able to get up on the mountain to see those horses.

    The BLM isn’t so much questioning the value of the Pryor horses right now as it is the way the herd and range are managed. There are definitely some areas of concern in the report, but I am confident that the BLM will listen to what we have to say and work to make the plan better.

    Thanks for your comments and support!

  14. Matt
    Is there any way that Phoenix can ce adopted. I think she has done her time on the mountain and deserves to live out the rest of her life in leisure. I am sure there are plenty of people that would love to see that happen.

  15. Hi there,

    Usually older horses aren’t adopted due to the problems that can occur for the horse and their family as well as the logistical issues that come into play. Phoenix is actually looking better now, I think; and she really has lead a full life on the mountain and I think she will be happy to die there as well.

    Hope things are well for you.

  16. I looked at your latest picture of Phoenix and I have to agree that she looks a little better. I feel a little bad about the fact that I thought she would like to spend her last years in captivity.I am pretty sure that she would like to live out her last days on the mountain that she has come to call home.

  17. Hello Matt,
    I just recently came across the website and your blog. What a great find. Thank you so much. My wife and I finally made it out to see the horses this past July of 07. I had been wanting to get out there for a few years. It was just an incredible experience photographing and taking in the horses, so much so we didn’t want to leave. What a magical place. We are now able to continue to enjoy, what I beleive, is an American treasure, through your blog. Which is great since we’re in Michigan. Again thank you for all you are doing and please, if you will, keep us informed if there is anything we could do to help those beautiful horses. Hope to make it out there again sometime in the summer of 08, maybe we’ll see you. God Bless. Scott H.

  18. Matt,
    I just read through everything you posted on your blog. Needless to say, I was devastated by the notion that the BLM wants to decrease the herd to 95 to 99 horses. Not only that but they only want to keep the younger horses. I don’t agree with the fencing idea and I am still unsure about the holding off of water except in designated areas. I realize this may actually be a good way to get the horses to graze in the areas that were previously not used, but then again I have to wonder about why the horses
    didn’t use these resources in the first place. After all “our” horses are a lot smarter about such things than we are. I was very pleased to read your comment and the one made by Lynne. It was obvious to me that there were comments made by people that really care about “our” horses and then there were others that were made by those who are jaded by beuracratic @#!&*%. Your blog then led me to the article posted in the Billings Gazette. It is taking all that I have not to tell these people what I think. I can’t beleive you have not taken issue with the comments posted there. I realize that the Spanish mustang is not indiginous to this country, but where would this country be without the horse? Honestly, right now I am so mad I could spit. Matt, we have to something. These horses cannot speak for themselves. We cannot allow their numbers to be reduced because of government “numbers”. Just give me the word and I will be more than happy to spout off to the Billings Gazette about the importance of the horse in the making of this country that they all seeem to hold so dear.

  19. Matt,
    I can’t tell you how much your blog means to me. Thank you so much for letting me follow Fools Crow’s progress. He is getting to be such a beautiful young man. I hope that someday soon he will have a family of his own. I would love to see his offspring. He cannot be a bachelor all of his life. I need to know if all of “our horses” have survived the winter. Please let me know. I plan to come out there again this summer and I do not want any surprises. Thanks again for all that you are doing.

  20. Matt,
    I want you to know that I have been following Fools Crow’s progress. I am just happy to know that he survived the winter. I can only hope that someday he will have children of his own.
    Unlike the horses in my pasture, his color changed dramatically over the winter. I am looking forward to seeing him this yesr. My husband has already been wanting to know what I want to do for summer vacation and I think I have to see Fools Crow. PLease tell me that you will help me attain this. I feel like that I got lucky last year in being able to see him and the bachelors. You know that I keep his picture on my desk at work. My only hope is that you will find a way to let me see him again. I honestly don’t know why he holds such a special part in my heart.

  21. I read your last post and I am going to do everything I can from Ohio to ensure that “our horses” continue to thrive, but as usual I am worried about Fools Crow. Please tell me that he is not included in the group that you said did not survive. I reaslly need to hear from you as much as the BLM needs to hear from all of us concerning their recent decision based on facts from 30 years ago.

  22. Hey Matt

    I was just checking in to see when you were going to post more info and pics? I see it has been a long time. I am excited to see what is going on.

  23. Matt

    I LOVE reading your blog and seeing your pictures….thank you so much for keeping this up for those of us who would never have the opportunity to see or hear of it.
    I have a question for you……where is Sam and Seneca these days? They are the sire and dam of my Pryor pony!

  24. First off, i love your documentries! I was wondering how White Cloud and his family were doing and if they were okay? I am very excited to see more pics and posts from 2008!

  25. hi matt . just wondering how things are on the pryors with the cold an snow and its effect on the mustangs. …red

  26. Wow Matt! What a cool up-date to your site! I really like it!
    And as usual, thanks so much for the info on the horses. I love coming here and seeing how they are doing. The pictures are almost always so amazingly clear it makes me (almost!) feel like I was there myself. Can’t wait to see the rest of this years foals. Keep up the excellent work!

    PS- How is Phoenix doing?

  27. Just found your blog about the Pryor Mustangs. Great that somebody is blogging about these unique horses. I live close and have been there a few times to see and photograph the horses. This spring I’m going up to do some more observation, picture taking and painting. I’m an artist and the Pryor mustangs and that country are subject matter that I love to paint. I have some paintings on my blog and hope to post more in the future.

    • Sorry about my delay in replying to you, this comment hadn’t shown up for me for some reason. That’s great to hear you will be making a trip out here this spring. I really like your paintings, they are very unique. I’ve only met a couple other people who have done paintings of the horses. Hopefully we’ll run into each other!

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