Mustang Vs Bronco: Are They The Same? [Comparison Guide]

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Many people get confused about the differences and similarities between a mustang vs bronco.

Considering how many horse breeds are there in the world, including the United States, this distinction may not seem so important, but it is still good to know.

Here, I will go over what mustangs and broncos are and compare them based on weight, size, price, and other factors.

What is a Bronco Horse?

Broncos are horses that can buck and behave unpredictably. They used to be wild horses but are now domesticated horses trained to buck and be erratic. 

Broncos can also have the rarest horse colors.

Broncos are used in rodeo events where riders compete to see who can stay on the bucking horse the longest. Broncos are also horses that are not trained yet or have not finished training.

Bronco is the Spanish word for rough, which also fits with the description and events that they are associated with. Broncos are not a specific breed of horse, any horse can become a bronco.

Are Bronco Horses Male or Female?

Bronco horses can be any gender, as long as they have a talent for bucking and going wild. After all, they need multiple horses available for competitions.

Here is a video that explains more about the broncos.

What is a Mustang Horse?

Mustang horses are wild horses that roam the western United States. They are descended from the Spanish horses that were first brought to the United States by Europeans. 

Some of the horses brought over escaped and created their own herds with other escaped horses. As the mustangs began to have foals and their population grew, their numbers got out of hand.

In the 1900s, there were almost two million mustangs in the US, which competed with settlers who needed their grazing land for farming. Today, only about 86,000 mustangs are left. (3)

The first solution to keep the mustang numbers down was to shoot them until a law was passed to prevent them from being hunted and harassed.

Then the population increased again, which prompted the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to start their adopt a horse program as a more humane solution to the population and overgrazing problem.

However, there is a lot of controversy with BLM and how they manage wild horses. Mustang horses are a symbol of the freedom associated with America.

According to the BLM, their adoption program has helped to place more than 240,000 wild mustangs and burros into safe and loving homes as show and pleasure horses. (1)

Mustang horse names are typically based on the fact that they are wild. For example, Spirit, the famous Kiger mustang, was named because of the free spirit of the breed (2). Spirit lives at Return to Freedom Sanctuary.

Here is a video that shows you mustangs that live wild in Oregon.

Are Mustang Horses Good for Beginners?

Unless a mustang has been trained already, they are not safe horses for beginners. Untrained mustangs were purchased from the Bureau of Land Management.

They need an experienced trainer that has the knowledge to teach them to be safe for beginners to ride. Training a wild mustang is quite different from training a domestic horse.

However, they make wonderful, smart, and willing equine partners once they are trained.

Are Mustangs Good For Bronc Riding in Rodeos?

mustang horse walking in the mountain

Mustangs are typically too small to be good bronco horses, and just because they are originally feral does not mean they have the right temperament to be a bronco.

The best breeds to be broncos are larger and usually have a quarter horse, thoroughbred, and draft horse bloodlines. These bloodlines provide both the athleticism and power necessary to be a good bronco.

Mustang vs Bronco Comparison

As you can tell from the above discussion, there is quite a difference between a mustang vs bronco.

While both mustangs and broncos refer to horses that are wild or have wild behaviors, a mustang is one specific breed of horse, while a bronco is a type of horse rather than a breed.

This section will provide a more in-depth comparison of a bronco vs mustang horse and show the difference between mustang and bronco horses,

Mustang vs Bronco: Size 

Mustangs are shorter and smaller than the horses used as bucking broncos. Broncos are usually around 16 hands high, while mustangs are usually only 14 to 15 hands tall.

Mustang vs Bronco: Weight 

Because broncos are bigger and more athletic than mustangs, their average weight is 1200 to 1500 pounds. Mustang horse weight can vary between 700-900 pounds because some are more muscular than others.

Mustang vs Bronco: Lifespan

Broncos can live for up to 25-30 years. This can sometimes be less, but it will depend on their living conditions and how hard their bucking job is on their bodies.

Because many mustangs live in the wild, they can have a tough life. Mustang horse lifespan averages15-20 years. This is less than a domestic horse, which is 25-30 years.

However, in captivity and sometimes in the wild, Mustangs have the same lifespan as domestic horses.

Mustang vs Bronco: Speed 

Mustangs are faster than broncos because they use their speed to escape from predators in the wild. On average, they can run up to 30 miles per hour, but they have been recorded at higher speeds.

On the other hand, broncos will run a bit slower at 25-30 miles per hour. The most likely reason why broncos are slower is that talent for bucking is more important than running, so it is not a concern when breeding them.

Mustang vs Bronco: Temperament 

Both mustangs and broncos can have wild behavior and act unpredictably. Broncos are usually bred to keep undesirable behavior like bucking and kicking for rodeos.

On the other hand, feral mustangs have a calm and willing temperament once they have a gentle, understanding trainer work with them to become a riding horse.

Mustang vs Bronco: Price 

How much is a mustang horse? The cost of a mustang varies greatly depending on their training. Mustangs that have begun training start at $125, but you can get a completely untrained horse for as little as $25.

Broncos also vary in price depending on their training and success in competition. A proven bronco that is good at bucking riders off can cost anywhere from $8000 to $10,000.

From this comparison, you can see that although mustangs and broncos sound similar, they actually have quite a few differences. 

One of the most interesting facts about mustang horses and broncos is that Ford has car models named after both of them.

FAQs

Do wild mustangs still exist?

group of mustang horses running

Yes, but there are only 86,000 free-roaming mustangs left. They live on 28 million acres of public land.

Are stallions mustangs?

A stallion is a male horse over three years old. A mustang is a breed of horse that can either be male or female, including a stallion.

Are mustangs the fastest horse?

3 mustang horses in the mountain

The mustang ranks as one of the fastest breeds in the world, but it is not the fastest. The fastest horse breed is usually the thoroughbred or quarter horse.

Conclusion

There are actually quite a few differences in the mustang vs bronco, even though they sound similar at first glance.

The biggest difference between mustang and bronco horses is that mustangs are a specific breed of feral horse, whereas a bronco is any breed of horse that is good at bucking or was trained to do so for rodeos.

mustang horse

References 

  • 1. Programs: Wild Horse and Burro: Adoptions and Sales | Bureau of Land Management [Internet]. www.blm.gov. Available from: https://www.blm.gov/programs/wild-horse-and-burro/adoptions-and-sales
  • 2. Spirit: An American Icon [Internet]. Return to Freedom. Available from: https://returntofreedom.org/what-we-do/sanctuary/our-horses/spirit/
  • 3. 86,000 wild mustangs that roam the West are at the center of raging controversy [Internet]. Animals. 2021. Available from: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/86000-wild-mustangs-that-roam-the-west-are-at-the-center-of-raging-controversy
Bryanna Tanase
Bryanna Tanase

Bryanna is a 23-year-old Florida-based Grade 1 Para-dressage rider based in Florida and she has been riding for 5 years. Horses are her passion and her ultimate goal is to be selected for the US Para-Equestrian Team and represent the US at the Paralympics. She rides at Quantum Leap Farm and Emerald M Therapeutic Riding Center and her equine partners are Shane, an American Paint Horse, and Cappy a Welsh x Thoroughbred. When she is not helping at the barn, riding, or training, she is learning about horses, writing articles about them, and using her social media platforms to raise awareness for therapeutic riding and para-equestrianism, shares her journey, and advocates for greater inclusion of para-equestrian in the media and equestrian sport at large.
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