Goodsprings is known for a lot of things. Heck, it’s even a central location in the video game Fallout: New Vegas. If you were to ask anyone who had actually roamed around the area, though, they’d likely say that the nearby wild horses are what is especially amazing about the place. The types of wild horses in Nevada are numerous, and the stories of how they got here are just as unique as the horses themselves.
In what may be the most interesting story of a particular breed of wild horses in Goodsprings, the steeldusts all share one common ancestor: Steel Dust. Steel Dust was a thoroughbred from the state of Kentucky. That’s right, the Kentucky where the Kentucky Derby is held.
Ranchers sought out Steel Dust after he was brought to Texas. There’s no telling how many horses Steel Dust sired, but since his descendants make up a portion of the Goodsprings wild horse population, he obviously stayed busy. These horses have large muscles, high speed and are remarkably intelligent.
The Dixon Strain
One mention of the Dixon Strain, and young ladies all over America might get light headed thinking of Daryl from “The Walking Dead.” Calm down, gals, it’s not that Dixon. Tom Dixon was an Irish immigrant turned rancher who, in 1869, left California to come to Nevada. He kept an insane amount of breeds, and the descendants of these horses now make up the Dixon Strain of the wild horses of Goodsprings.
Dixon’s horses consisted of Percherons, Shires, Morgans and even horses native to his homeland of Ireland. Dixon’s strain was never specific to Goodsprings, though. In fact, these horses once roamed over much of the state of Nevada and had a population of more than 10,000. At these numbers, it’s no wonder why the Dixon Strain is still running strong throughout Nevada.
Not too many people outside of the equestrian community pride themselves on being able to identify different types of horse breeds. Rest assured, though, that if you see a curly mustang, you’ll know that you’ve really seen a curly mustang. These horses’ curly coats stand out amongst those of other wild horses, and just like many of the other horses near Goodsprings, there is an interesting story behind this breed.
It’s reported that curly horses were first seen in Eureka, Nevada between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A family, headed up by John Damele, took notice of the horses and decided to catch one. It took them a few years, but once they had captured it, they realized that it could survive uncommonly harsh weather.
After this revelation, the Dameles began catching and breeding as many curly mustangs as they could. They didn’t focus too much on maintaining the breed’s pureness, and it’s because of this that many wild curly mustangs today have Morgan and Arabian horse in their pedigrees.
Jackson Family Breed
A Nevadan family by the name of Jackson used to own horses that were especially colorful. They loved horses with the frame overo pattern, and they bred these along with some of the most colorful mares that could be found in Nevada. Raising these horses was more about the love of doing so than making any money for the Jacksons, and it’s because of that fact that some wild horse breeds today still show remnants of their work.
The Jacksons eventually began releasing their beautiful mares into herds of local wild horses, and the rest, as they say, is history. You’ll stand a better chance of seeing these particular horses further north, but if you’re riding around Goodsprings and catch a sighting of one, you shouldn’t be too surprised.
Although burros aren’t technically wild horses, they can still be found roaming out and about in the Goodsprings area. These small donkeys were documented in America as early as 1679, and their population has increased ever since.
Burros were not always wild. Gold prospectors used them heavily in their conquest to strike it rich. Once mines started drying up, though, many miners simply abandoned their donkeys to fend for themselves. In all honesty, they didn’t do too bad. There’s now a feral burro population of nearly 5,000 in America, and well over 1,000 of these resilient creatures call Nevada home.
Between the historic sites and amazing plant life around Goodsprings, you would think that it simply couldn’t get much better. Fortunately, the wild horse and burro population of the area ensures that there’s still a bit more to see. The best part is that knowing the story behind all of these breeds really makes seeing them and witnessing them in the wild that much more enjoyable. The images in this article are actual photos taken while on our ATV tours here in Goodsprings Nevada, just outside of Las Vegas.