The wild horses that roam through the American west are descendants of Spanish horses who were brought to North America hundreds of years ago. Wild horses are often called Mustangs, and are considered to be a specific type of horse, though there are several different types of mustangs within the general classification.
Horses Are Social Animals
Horses are not solitary animals and they will never choose to live individually if they have another option. In captivity, horses who do not have another horse for company will bond with donkeys, mules, cows or even goats. In the wild, horses stay within a group of other equines. A group of horses living, eating and traveling together is called a herd, rather than a pack.
Benefits of Herd Life
When the ancestors of today's wild horses escaped from captivity, they formed herds in the wild and have survived for decades without receiving regular care from humans. The reason horses have been able to survive so long on their own is in part because of the herd. Herd members provide social interaction, grooming, warmth and companionship to one another.
Horses in a herd have additional protection and warning from predators. Predators that might try to attack a single horse are often not so brave when it comes to attacking a whole group of them. Horses are flight animals, meaning that they will run away from danger rather than choose to attack it head on. A single horse will live a nervous and risky existence, because he will be relying solely on his own instincts for detection of threats rather than the senses of an entire group of animals. A lone horse will be extremely vulnerable to predators if it lays down or goes to sleep.
Herd size can range from only a handful of animals to groups of several hundred. The Bureau of Land Management, which is responsible for managing wild horses in the United States of America, estimates to have over 30,000 wild horses currently roaming freely as of 2013. Virtually all of these animals will be part of a herd. Thousands of wild horse herds roam across North America.
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