The University of New Mexico's Continuing Education offers a weekend field course and exercise about wild mustangs Friday-Sunday, Aug. 22 through 24, with an in-class introduction scheduled Tuesday, Aug. 19. The course, titled Wild Mustangs of the American West, is designed to explore the horse family’s history around the world and in the American West from the Dawn Horse 58 million years ago to the Equid’s dispersal from North America to Eurasia, and then from the Iberian peninsula across the Atlantic Ocean and ultimately back to New Mexico and the American West.

Adjunct Research Associate Professor Paul Polechla will conduct the weekend field course about wild mustangs in northern New Mexico this summer. This is the first time in nine years the course has been made available to UNM students. Participants will spend two evenings under the stars in the mustangs' natural habitats in the Brownie Hills on the banks of the Rio Grande, not far from the Colorado border and the old town of San Luis.

Polechla has been involved with the conservation wild Spanish colonial horses or mustangs since 2001 when he viewed National Geographic Explorer's America's Lost Mustangs. He has followed mustangs by tracking and photographing them through the west from Montana to New Mexico. Polechla has participated in wild horse friendly round-ups using DNA markers to identify the Spanish mustangs from the grade mustangs. He then put these qualifiers on private ranches with adequate range land, forage and water sources.

In the field Polechla has researched wild horse ecology and behavior. In the library, he has studied the history of horses in the American West from Spanish colonial days to New Mexico statehood. Funded by the National Science Foundation, he conducted research to poll samples of the people to determine their knowledge of and high level of interest in horses especially wild Spanish mustangs.

Polechla’s colleague, Judy Barnes, equine photographer and local guide for the Spirit of the Wild Horse Preserve, will serve as a guide and wild horse photographer/coach on Wild Horse Mesa and the roads of the Brownie Hills. Additionally, a historian from the San Luis Valley Museum will discuss the regions local history as it relates to humans and horses.

"This course will be held in an area that is an extension of the Camino Real where the horses originally came from during the peak of the monsoon season when the horses will be grazing in prairie grass and rangeland at its finest," Polechla said.

Registration for this UNM Continuing Education course begins Monday, July 14.

Course Information:
Wild Mustangs of the American West
UNM Continuing Education Course #00685
FAA: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 22-24 
Course instructor: Paul Polechla
Course fee: $350

For more information, contact UNM Continuing Education at (505) 277-0777, ext. 1 or email,