Wild Horses in the Tulares
Horses found the abundant food supply and few natural enemies of the Tulares very favorable and great numbers resulted. By 1810, it was estimated that there were over 25,000 head. Value of these horses was not great, as the were used only for riding and mostly, for food.
The Tulare valley probably had more wild horses and mules than any other place of its size in the world. These animals ran in herds of a dozen to several hundred. Each herd was lead by a stallion, who was heavy and slow. The mares were small, full-chested, thin-flanked and clean-limbed. No attempts were made to improve the original stock although some were positive that a cross breeding of these horses with stock from Virginia would produce the finest of all stock.
The number continued to grow until it was considered that many needed to be exterminated to keep the level down. Soon mass slaughters occurred; 7,500 head in San Jose, 7,200 head in Santa Barbara, 3,302 head in Monterey. Near Santa Barbara, the method was to force the horses over cliffs to be dashed on the rocks below, but the usual means was to catch the animals in a pen where they were killed.
No where in the world, did people love horses more than the Californians. No one walked unless it was absolutely necessary. A dismounted Californian was not only a rare sight, but a pathetically helpless individual.