Horses evolved on the short grass steppes of
Central Asia (there was a reason Atilla the Hun was riding!). At the time
of their evolution, horses had to contend with tigers (which existed outside of
the Indian subcontinent back then) and the Asian lion (hunted to extinction by
the Romans, I believe). There are simply not predators big enough to take
out the average horse in North America. Or South America, either, I would
imagine. Anyhow, there aren't many predators that can run as fast as far
as a horse can. Some can put on bursts of speed that are faster, but
unfettered horses in open grass land can cover a mile in two to three
minutes, max. They are smart enough to care well for their young
(which can run faster than a human less than an hour after birth), fast enough
that all but the largest predators can't touch them, and live in tight social
groups so the slightest hint of danger to one is understood by all.
If there had been horses in America prior to
Cristopher Columbus, there most likely would have been huge herds of horses in
the plains, instead of buffalo. I was leafing through my mother-in-law's
Horse Illustrated, where they had an article about the Prezwalski's (sp) horse,
a truly "wild" horse, not just feral. A zookeeper was quoted as saying
they were some of the easiest animals to breed in captivity. None of this
makes it easy to solve the Mustang problem. A humane slaughter program may
be the best idea. With intelligent culling of the herd, not just random
roundups, we could replace that extinct lion and only take the old, weak, and
lame. . . and make a better Mustang?
To make this endurance related - I know there are
some very successful mustang riders, but are there many mustang riders?
Not having to shoe a horse should add about $350/year to his value. .