The mustangs of Suffield

9 11 2006

Suffield mustangs

Until 1994 wild horses had open reign on the Suffield military base in southeastern Alberta, moving freely across one of the largest parcels of native prairie in the world. Over 1200 head, divided by their stallions into small herds, survived on the rich grasses that once supported cattle until the military annexed the rangelands in 1941. The success of the Suffield Mustangs in surviving and reproducing freely on the open range proved to be their downfall. In the early 1990s the military decided the horses were damaging the prairie grasses on the base and the population needed to be controlled. After a great amount of discussion and controversy on the issue, it was decided in 1994 to round them up and disperse them to anyone willing to take one.

This could have been the end of the Suffield Mustangs were it not for a few forward-thinking horsemen who recognized the historical significance and the genetic quality of these horses. These people, who adopted horses after the roundup, joined together to form the Suffield Mustang Association of Canada with the goal to promote and preserve the unique Suffield bloodlines. These horses are a historically unique part of our Western Canadian heritage and could never be reproduced.

The horses are primarily made up of Quarter Horse, Thoroughbred, Morgan and Arabian stock. Their numbers continue to increase thanks to the efforts of dedicated breeders, and four foals were recently put through a sale near Smiths Falls, ON. Suffield mustangs have also been featured in an episode of The Complete Rider.

Further reading:

The Last Wild Horses

Marlborough Mustangs And Cattle Company

Local couple sallies forth to protect mustang (news article from Nov 2002)

CFB Suffield

Horses of Suffield video

Wild Horses (Canadian Encyclopedia)

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