The Appaloosa

The Appaloosa is world re-nouned as a tough and hardy horse and recognized instantly by it's coloured, spotted coat.

The Nez Perce Indians of America, are recognized as having developed this very versatile breed, and it is now one of the most popular breed of horses in the USA.

White settlers called these horses "Palouse horse" and its very likely because the Palouse River flowed through the heart of Nez Perce territory.

According to records, the Nez Perce were given the first horse back in 1730 from the Shoshone Indian tribe who took to riding them like ducks to water.

Within twenty years, the strict breeding practice they had adopted, had established an excellent breeding herd. To the envy of many a white man.

Within the Appaloosa, there is a wide range of body types, stemming from the influence of many different breeds of horses throughout its long history. Each horse's color pattern is genetically the result of various spotting patterns overlaid on top of one of several recognized base coat colors.

Watch this video of awesome pictures of the Appaloosa.


Before the Appaloosa Horses

The charred bones of horses found in geological deposits 7,000 to 10,000 years old indicate that the early American Indians in North America were aquainted with the prehistoric horses of the New World.

It is unlikely they rode the first horses known, but like the Europeans of the Ice Age, the Natives would probably have hunted and eaten them. When these animals became extinct, the Indians had no further contact with horses until the Spaniards and the othe Europeans settled in America thousands of years later.

The peaceful tribes of the East and North lived mainly from agriculture and fishing, and as they had practically no contact with them, these new animals had little effect on their lives. The opposite was true, however, of the warlike Plains Indians of the West who were nomadic hunters, and the Apaches in particular are said to have taken to riding like ducks to water.

Soon the Navahos, the Pawnees and the Comanches also learn't to ride and in time, some of the pastoral tribes discovered the taste of freedom which horses brought into their lives.

The Blackfeet Indians were originally farmers, but the horse turned them into hunters. Soon they no longer built villages of wooden huts but set up their camps wherever they happened to be...

Their whole culture was altered by the horse which, as well as a means of transport and a status symbol, became an article of value and cultural significance. The chiefs took their favourite horses with them to the grave in the manner of the various ancient horse people.

The Plains Indians desired horses immensely, for they very quickly discovered the animals value in their struggle against the white man and in the hunt for bison.

From the seventeenth century on their were, among the buffalo herds many wild horses which, using leather lassos and a great deal of skill, the Indians were able to catch, very often choosing the pregnant mares which were slower and had less stamina, and also offered the possible bonus of a foal.

Apparently the Mustangs were broken in immediately after capture, while still suffering from shock, a procedure for which the Indians showed extraordinary talent, and often within an hour of capture they were able to lead the animals quietly away, submissive and obediant.

Nevertheless, despite their skill, this harsh method of breaking in riding animals was a primitive process, to be avoided if their were alternatives.

Raids on the Spanish haciendas in the frontier area were particularly popular, for the owners were not in a position to put up much resistance and the Indians were able to take a great many animals.

The main advantage was that these horses were tame and often already broken in. Moreover, their were always fresh supplies, as the colonial government imported thousands of horses from Spain and sent them to the settlers. This enabled them to remain in the dangerous frontier area...

The Indians were extremely talented natural riders and able to keep control of their mounts even under the most difficult conditions. They used a rope for a bridle and either rode bareback or used a blanket for a saddle which was firmly tied on, .

The breeding of horses, however, had apparently no place in their restless mentality and the Nez Perce who settled in the Palouse Valley in Idaho were the only Indian tribe to breed horses both systematically and successfully.

Like most Indians they preferred coloured horses and chose to breed animals with definate spotted patterns. These were formerly very common among the Spanish horses.

When the Nez Perce selected horses for breeding they naturally chose the most beautiful animals, but it would seem they also took account of the animals hardiness, speed, stamina and character, for these are the modern characteristics of the Appaloosa breed.

In 1877 the Nez Perce were overwhelmed by the US Calvary, despite a desperate attempt to escape on horseback during which they, together with their women and children, had coverved 2500 kilometres within eleven weeks.

Over a 1,000 Appaloosa horses were taken forcibly by the white man at that time and those that weren't sold, were shot. These magnificent animals proved to be awesome mounts. Their breed has found many devotees and now totals around 150,000 animals.