60 million years ago, the mustangs' ancestors, called Eohippus, or 'dawn horse', roamed North America. They had 4 toes on their front feet and 3 toes on their back feet, and were only ten or twenty inches tall. Eohippus fed on leaves and shrubs, and looked a bit like a greyhound dog. The modern horse, called Equus, evolved about 3 million years ago. Their 3 and 4 toes had molded into one, they were taller, longer, and grazed on grass instead of leaves. Some horses crossed a land bridge connecting Asia and Alaska and began living in Europe and Asia. Then suddenly, about 8,000 years ago, horses disappeared from North America. They didn't returen again until the sixteenth century when Spanish explorers brought their horses with them on their explorations. Some horses escaped, and others were freed by the Spaniards. These horses reproduced and became feral. At first the natives were frightened by the mysterious new creatures. But soon they learned to tame and ride them, and Native Americans became excellent horsemen. When settlers tried to force the natives away, they discovered that they were fierce warriors. The natives trained and bred the horses to perfection. However, when pioneers moved west out to the Great Plains, the Native Americans lost in the end. They were forced to flee and leave many of their beloved horses behind. Cowboys were popular in the 1860's through the 1880's. Taking care of their herds of cattle, they discovered that mustangs made superb cow ponies. Horses helped us throughout our history. They pulled wagons, fought in battles, delivered mail, and worked for the pony express. However, in the early twentieth century, people decided that there was no use for the mustangs. That cIaim spelled disaster for the horses.