Carter Reservoir Wild Horse Herd

The unique Spanish horses known as the Carter Reservoir Wild Horse Herd are located in a very isolated area of northeastern California and northwestern Nevada. They are considered a California wild horse herd as they are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) at the Cedarville, CA Surprise Field Station. 

The Carter Reservoir wild horses exhibit physical color characteristics known as the "dun factor," which was also common to a major portion of the horses which the Spaniards reintroduced into North America in the 1600s. Color classification of the dun factor are: dun, red dun, grulla ( mouse gray),  buckskin, claybank and variations of these colors. Markings on horses having the dun include dorsal stripes, herringbone strips, zebra stripes on knees and hocks, chest, rib, and arm bands, outlined ears, top 1/3 of the ear on its backside darker than body color, fawn color inside of ears, multicolored mane and tail, cob webbing on face and face masks. An individual having the dun factor may have many, but not all of these markings.

The Carter Reservoir mustangs are not easy to spot as their coloring can cause them to blend into the landscape. The herd roams in a remote desolate area in the high desert, where sagebrush, juniper trees, lava rock rim rocks, hills, valleys and canyons are plentiful. Great caution should be taken when traveling into this remote region located near Cedarville, California. Coyotes, antelope, deer, elk, mountain lions, bob cats and birds are most commonly seen along with the wild horses. Horseback is recommended.

Take a Guided Tour with Riders of the Sage Guide Service

Let Jim be your guide to watch these amazing creatures roam wild. Jim Massey, your Wilderness Guide, has the first northwestern Nevada guide permit on a million-plus acres near Cedarville, California to view mule deer, antelope and the recently registered Carter Reservoir Mustangs, which Jim monitored for 12 years while working at the Bureau of Land Management. Bring your horse or mule and ride into an area very seldom visited by riders, viewing spectacular scenery and abundant wildlife.  All-day treks for up to six people are available. Contact Jim to make your reservation today.

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Latitude: 41.5290606 Longitude: -120.1732781 Elevation: 4652 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Darice Massey

Best Time for Viewing

Day time

Best Months and Seasons for Viewing

Spring, Summer and Fall

Pet Friendly Notes

Not suitable for pets, except horses are highly recommended to observe these wild horses in their element.


These beautiful wild horses have been DNA tested to be direct descendents of Spanish Horses. Don't miss a chance to see these beautiful animals.

DM, 12/2/2011

Are the Carter Reservoir Wild Horses still there? Are they scheduled to be removed by the BLM. So many wild horses have been removed illegally and sold for slaughter. These horses who have lived free for 400 years should be saved.

susan, 2/8/2013

The Carter's are still there, but with the gather from 2009 dropping the numbers down so low we haven't seen any horses with the really strong markings. We are working hard to get this herd protected & to keep the genetics viable (hopefully it's not to late). Right now the gather that was planned is on hold.

DM, 2/9/2013

I adopted a Carter Reservoir BLM Mustang and I love her. Everyone comments on her unique Spanish look.

Jenny, 3/12/2014

Is there only four mares with foals and the stallion?

Jan Hall, 4/16/2014 Please be aware and act on this. The Carter horses are on the BLM schedule for roundup. Please help to stop this from happening.

Cheryl Bowe, 9/2/2014

There aren't enough wild horses left to do any damage to the range. Observation has shown that the damage is being done by the mega herds grazing there illegally. What is this campaign to eradicate all wild horses from public lands? Tourists come west and one of the things they expect to see is wild horses. They don't come to see mega herds of cattle or sheep, or oil and fracking rigs, or strip malls, or housing developments. They come to see what the imagine the "real West" to still be and that includes wild horses.

Christina Anderson, 9/2/2014

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