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A Wild Irreplaceable Spanish-Iberian Heritage Herd

Welcome, new and old Carter Reservoir Mustang fans! The BLM-managed wild Carter Herd in northern California is relatively unknown in wild horse and burro circles and among the general public. Carter Reservoir Mustangs Inc (CRMI) aims to change that by getting the word out far and wide about the Herd’s unique, proven Spanish-Iberian ancestry and about the urgency to help preserve and protect them in the wild on their home range with hopefully increased healthy, viable numbers on expanded habitat. CRMI is also preparing to help relocate some of the Carters to private lands, preferably in breeding family bands to maintain their special heritage bloodlines, and to assist in the safe placement of some of the younger Carters with human companions/riders when unavoidable roundups occur (this could happen as soon as this year).


We hope you enjoy exploring the website to learn more about the Carter Herd, the CRMI Team and our Mission and Goals; to view the exquisite rare beauty of some of the photographed Carter Mustangs; to become inspired to Take Action in various ways on the Herd’s behalf; and to keep updated on the latest news. CRMI looks forward to partnering with as many interested, passionate individuals and organizations as possible to keep the Carter Reservoir Spanish-Iberian Heritage Herd thriving on their public land home and, if need be in the future, on large private preserves/sanctuaries or smaller, safe, long-term, loving homes.


Once they’re gone, they’re gone for good! So, please Stand for the Carters and Stand with CRMI to achieve the best  possible outcomes for the Carter Heritage Herd, both on and off the range.

A Rich Heritage


The genetic, cultural, and historical significance of the Carter Reservoir Herd is undeniable. 

Both rounds of mitochondrial DNA testing done by Certagen Labs in Germany in 2015 and 2020 for CRMI have scientifically proven that 100% of the Carter samples tested carry genetically ancient Spanish-Iberian ancestry based on the maternal side, directly tracing them back 500 years to those horses brought to North America by the early Spanish explorers. Even more importantly, the D genotype, under which they are categorized, is the oldest of known wild types dating back an estimated 500,000 years ago!

The Carters are one of the rarest, most unique herds still living in the wild today. Conservation and protection of this irreplaceable Heritage Herd are vital to the survival of their ancient Spanish-Iberian lineage and their unusual primitive coloration and to acknowledge their value in helping man develop the New World. 

Click here for more detailed information on the exciting mtDNA genotype findings.

Primitive Dun Factor Coloration

Many of the Carters have dun coloration, a hallmark of their Spanish forebears from the Iberian Peninsula—soft reds, browns, and tans with primitive markings of striping, bands, cobwebbing, face masks, and shoulder capes. These primitive characteristics are both extremely eye-catching closeup, and, counterintuitively, allow them to melt into the background of their home range so easily they can be difficult to spot from a distance.

Click here for more detailed information about the Herd’s stunning physical characteristics (phenotype).

©Carter Reservoir Mustangs Inc 8-17 Darice IMG_2740.jpg

Intelligence and Trainability

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For the younger Carter horses that come off their home range or are born in captivity after roundups, better futures for them may be ensured because of their intelligence and trainability, as well as their beauty and heritage.

Widely esteemed trainer, Ray Berta, says, "These are amazing horses! I’ve had the opportunity to work with two Carter horses who came off the range as youngsters and started them both under saddle. I find them to be very intelligent, willing to work with a human, and super good-natured. They have very comfortable gaits and the talent for many different uses. I would enjoy having a Carter horse as my own personal mount.”

Other minimal training options may be possible because of these traits. A breeding (if appropriate) or gelded family band that’s been rounded up could be gentled (halter, lead, feet, trailer, grooming, human interaction). They then could be adopted to owners of large parcels in more populated areas or the Wildland Urban Interface who need fire prevention grazing and who also value the Carters’ heritage and stunning looks—a win situation on many levels!

Stay tuned for more information on ideas that support the Carters’ future.


Carter Chronicles

The California Wild Mustang Herd with the #CarterWOWfactor!

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