The United States is home to 9.2 million wild and domesticated horses.
Upwards of 50,000 of these horses are Mustangs – wild horses descended from domesticated breeds brought to North America by Spanish settlers in the 1500s. These wild horses have since become a symbol for freedom and independence in the American West.
In the 1930s, concern that Mustangs were competing with ranching and farming interests led to a steep decline in the wild horse population. However, the cruel methods used to control the population were brought to light and in 1971 Congress passed the Wild and Free-Roaming Horse and Burros Act. Under this law, the Bureau of Land Management is charged with the protection, management, and study of wild horses and burros living on public lands. The BLM still manages the population of wild horses today.