More on what makes a mustang different. Tracey asked on the Mustang Fever forum, and she brought up another thought, maybe it's just us. Maybe it's that the people who choose mustangs are different.
Here are my ramblings in response to that thought. Keep in mind I was replying to Tracey, so when I say "you..." in the second paragraph, I'm referring to her blog post from yesterday.
Yeah, the people are different. We don't see the time commitment as a setback, that's the fun part. We don't want a well-groomed show horse with stable vices and feet that are shod wrong to get a certain kind of gait. We want a healthy horse, and a healthy relationship, and the challenge and hard work it takes to make it work with a mustang. They teach us about ourselves. They bring their mental health to us and make us more healthy, if we're willing to listen to their feedback. I think it takes a strong person to have their flaws laid bare by a horse (because they will be honest with you) and have to come back and ask for forgiveness and start chipping away at becoming a better horseman and person. I'm sure all of us mustang lovers have had that experience. They make us find ways to be better.
But I think you expressed it well in your blog. It's about the time we spend. They're ours from the start, a clean slate but with a good foundation from their life in the wild, and we spend such an incredible amount of time with them. You can't get that kind of bond with a horse you buy and just start riding. Or with a horse born on your place that you work with once a month until it's time to start saddle training.
I also think that some domestics are damaged goods, mentally and emotionally. They may be happy but they don't function like they would in the wild. They don't know how to be a horse. Someone explained it as the difference between someone who's had a healthy childhood and someone who didn't. A horse raised alone isn't going to be mentally normal. A horse raised with just a few other horses isn't going to necessarily have all the herd members that should hold all the different positions in its life. Maybe all the horses it lives with are very permissive and it never gets put in its place. Horses live to have a place in the herd.
There are the physical aspects as well. I like a certain look in a horse. I couldn't say what it is but I know it when I see it. One part of it is strong bone and good feet. There are a lot of mustangs that make me go "wow." Not many quarter horses do. Sometimes I see ads for horses that I really like, but usually it just looks like another horse to me. Mustangs, even if they're ugly in one way or another, have an endearing quality (to me). And some of them are just drop-dead gorgeous.
Good feet and bone developed on the range, not penned up in their own mess. A lot of why I'd want a mustang is all the time spent moving, making the inner structure of the feet strong and bones dense.
My main reason for loving a mustang is the gentling process. I love it. So it all comes back to the incredible amount of time we spend with them. Anyone wanting a "made" horse probably ought not to bother. But then I think true horsemanship comes from learning with your horse, not just buying a horse and riding it on the weekends. That's fun, and I'm glad there are people out there like that, because that's good too and that's where a lot of us start. Horses can have all kinds of places in people's lives. But when you commit to a horse (and you can commit to a domestic) it really is life-altering. And you have to commit to a mustang or you're not going to get anywhere.
I'm not a religious person, but when my sister says she thinks horses are a special creation of God, made for us, I think she's right. They are unlike any other creature I know. A true gift, if one can just be open enough to see what they have to teach us.
I read yesterday that the Hebrew word for horse means, "to explain."
I should add that I'm absolutely not bashing domestic horses, just trying to think why they might be different. A wild horse is certainly not for everyone. And all horses have that little spark of the divine. They all have something special. Despite fugly people out there who like to point out that certain horses shouldn't have been born. They were born, they are special, and I'm sure every horse has touched someone's life and made it better, or different in some way that leads to growth.