THE MUSTANG HORSE by
Barbara Goodin
Mr. Leonard “Black Moon” Riddles, Comanche tribal member
from Walters OK, is considered an expert on the mustang
horse.  He and his wife Eva share their country place with a
small herd of mustangs, where he raises them on a small
scale.  A highly acclaimed artist, his fascination with the
mustang carries over into his art work.  He seeks out elders
for authenticity when drawing the horse, and retains the
information to insure the history of the mustang is not lost.
There were two versions of  mustang horse:  The short and
chunky type was preferred by the Northern tribes, but the
Comanches preferred the more slender version.
The five main family groups of mustang were the red paint,
black paint, red-ear Medicine Hat, black-ear Medicine Hat
and the Appaloosa.  At one time Mr. Riddles’ great
grandfather owned about 250 Appaloosa horses.  The old-
timers referred to all mustangs as “Indian ponies.”
Mr. Riddles says there is confusion concerning the Medicine
Hat and War Bonnet color phase of the mustang.  The
Medicine Hat has a light colored body with dark ears, a shield
on the chest, and blotchy flanks, knees and ankles.  The War
Bonnet has a distinct bonnet to their eyes in addition to a
shield.  Both color phases of the mustang were highly prized
by the Indian as Buffalo and War Horses.
On the Medicine Hat, the color of the ears can range from
yellow to orange to red on the red-ear Mustang, and from
violet or purple to brown to black on the black-ear mustang.  
The knees are blotchy as is the chest, with the color roaning
out to white.  The Medicine Hat will sometimes have striped
hooves, as will a regular paint horse.
Many times Medicine Men were asked to say prayers over and
put special markings on a warrior’s horse before a big battle or
buffalo hunt.  A handprint might be placed on the rump, or
circles drawn around the eyes or dots placed on the legs or
rump.  Zig zag markings were also used.  These coveted War
Horses were sometimes decorated extravagantly with ribbons,
feathers and braided manes.  It was custom to split one or both
ears on these special horses.
Mustangs are noted for their stamina and endurance.  The
early, pure mustang had natural herding instinct and cow-
sense.  There are few remaining true specimens of this fine
breed that exists today.
The Spanish mustang has many outstanding
characteristics.  Foremost is his sensible disposition, agility,
alertness and hardiness.  His size (13.3 to 15 hands) and
smooth way of traveling are also desirable traits.  His
intelligence and ability to learn quickly make him an ideal
horse.
One sign of a true mustang is large, bright eyes that show
intelligence, with a great deal of white showing around them.  
Their hooves are small and of harder texture than domestic
horses, and many never need shoeing.  Roan hairs at the base
of the tail and a little gray on the flanks are other true
mustang characteristics.
Mr. Riddles serves on the Board of Directors for the Southwest
Spanish Mustang Association, whose aim is to restore and
preserve the breed.


IN MEMORY:
Mr. Leonard "Black Moon" Riddles, b. 6-28-1918; d. 6-30-
2003