The main difference between Mustang and Bronco is that the Mustang is a type of horse and Bronco is a untrained or bucking horse.
The mustang is a free-roaming horse of the American west that first descended from horses brought to the Americas by the Spanish. Mustangs are often referred to as wild horses, but because they are descended from once-domesticated horses, they are properly defined as feral horses. The original mustangs were Colonial Spanish horses, but many other breeds and types of horses contributed to the modern mustang, resulting in varying phenotypes. In the 21st century, mustang herds vary in the degree to which they can be traced to original Iberian horses. Some contain a greater genetic mixture of ranch stock and more recent breed releases, while others are relatively unchanged from the original Iberian stock, most strongly represented in the most isolated populations.
In 1971, the United States Congress recognized that “wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West, which continue to contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people.” The free-roaming mustang population is managed and protected by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Controversy surrounds the sharing of land and resources by the free-ranging mustangs with the livestock of the ranching industry, and also with the methods with which the federal government manages the wild population numbers. A policy of rounding up excess population and offering these horses for adoption to private owners has been inadequate to address questions of population control, and many animals now live in temporary holding areas, kept in captivity but not adopted to permanent homes. Advocates for mustangs also express concerns that the animals may be sold for horse meat. Additional debate centers on the question of whether mustangs—and horses in general—are a native species or an introduced invasive species. Many methods of population management are used, including the adoption by private individuals of horses taken from the range.
A bronco or bronc, in the United States, northern Mexico and Canada, is an untrained horse or one that habitually bucks. It may be a feral horse that has lived in the wild its entire life, but can also be a domestic horse either not fully trained to saddle or poorly trained, and hence prone to unpredictable behavior, particularly bucking. The term also refers to bucking horses used in rodeo “rough stock” events, such as bareback bronc riding and saddle bronc riding. The silhouette of a cowboy on a bucking bronco is the official symbol for the State of Wyoming.
In modern usage, the word “bronco” is seldom used for a “wild” or feral horse, because the modern rodeo bucking horse is a domestic animal. Some are specifically bred for bucking ability and raised for the rodeo, while others are spoiled riding horses who have learned to quickly and effectively throw off riders. Informally, the term is often applied in a joking manner to describe any horse that acts up and bucks with or without a rider. The Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 prevents the capture of mustangs from the wild for commercial use, and though the law has been weakened in recent years, “wild” mustangs and other completely untamed horses are still no longer used on the rodeo circuit, as bigger, more powerful animals that are sufficiently domesticated to be handled from the ground for veterinary care, travel, and stabling in small pens are more desirable as rodeo stock.
In the early American west, most cattle ranches simply allowed young horses to grow up in a feral state on the open range, capturing them at maturity to be broken in or “broke” to make them tame enough to ride. Sometimes Mustangs were rounded up as well, as the two populations often mixed.
A small, hardy, naturalized (feral) horse of the North American west.
A commissioned American Civil War.
A commissioned officer who started military service as an enlisted person.
a horse of western North America that is wild or not fully broken
an American feral horse which is typically small and lightly built.
a wild or half-tamed horse of the western US.