Cincinnati - Appaloosa
Silver - May 2005
From Allen, Kansas
The Spanish introduced horses to Mexico in the 1500s. Following the Pueblo Revolt, horses rapidly spread throughout North America, reaching the Northwest around 1700. The Nez Perce tribe became excellent horsemen and breeders, creating large herds renowned for their strength, intelligence and beauty.
Prior to the introduction of the horse, the Nez Perce were sedentary fishers. Horses gave the tribes greater mobility and power, altering their culture forever. Soon, the Nez Perce were famous throughout the Northwest for their hunting skills and craftsmanship. These skills allowed the Nez Perce to trade for necessary goods and services. With their superior horses they had little difficulty killing what buffalo they needed. Soon they began to use the Plains-type tipi in place of their old community houses…Heavy stone mortars and similar burdensome possessions were either discarded entirely, or left at the fishing spots for occasional use.
Famous explorer Meriwether Lewis was appropriately impressed with the breeding accomplishments of the Nez Perce, as noted in his diary entry from February 15, 1806. Their horses appear to be of an excellent race; they are lofty, eligantly [sic] formed, active and durable…some of these horses are pided with large spots of white irregularly scattered and intermixed with black, brown, bey [sic] or some other dark color.
It is unknown how many of the Nez Perce’s horses were spotted, but a possible estimate is ten percent. Settlers coming into the area began to refer to these spotted horses as “A Palouse Horse”, as a reference to the Palouse River, which runs through Northern Idaho. Over time, the name evolved into “Palousey,” “Appalousey,” and finally “Appaloosa.”
In the mid-1800s, settlers flooded onto the Nez Perce reservation, and conflicts soon ensued. The Nez Perce War of 1877 resulted in their herds being dispersed. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, interest in the breed gradually began to grow as Appaloosas began appearing in Western roundups and rodeos.
The Appaloosa’s flashy coat patterns caught the eye of the public, and in
1937 an article in Western Horseman entitled “The Appaloosa, or Palouse Horse” revealed a widespread interest in the breed.
With the goal of preserving and improving the Appaloosa breed, the Appaloosa Horse Club was chartered in 1938. From those first few enthusiasts, the Club has grown into one of the leading equine breed registries in the world. On March 25, 1975 Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus signed a bill naming the Appaloosa as the state horse. This is a deserving honor for a horse that has been an integral part of Idaho history.
Today, the beautiful spotted horse is one of the most beloved of American horse breeds and can be found throughout the world, excelling in disciplines including western pleasure, games, working cow horse and dressage.
Appaloosas are prized for their easy-going dispositions and their reliability as family horses. For more information, please visit the Appaloosa Horse Club www.appaloosa.com
MIDNIGHT "SMOKEY" PERFECTION
Smokey - May 28, 2003
1100 miles from Sacramento, CA to Moab, Utah
Although frequently confused with a Tennessee Walking Horse, Smokey is what is referred to as a Racking Horse. Both breeds of single-foot horses have their origins rooted deeply in Walking horse bloodlines. The Racking Horse is known to be one of the most versatile of horse breeds, legendary for its beauty, stamina and calm disposition. It was an automatic choice for Matt when selecting a horse and planning for his historic trip across the country.
The Racking Horse's popularity grew strong on the southern plantations before the Civil War. The horse could be ridden comfortably for hours because of its smooth, natural gait. The phenomenal growth of this breed can be directly attributed to its intelligence and versatility. Beginning riders cherish the easy gait and calm temperament, while veteran horseman admire its beauty and ability to perform anywhere from the work field to the show ring.
The "rack" is a bilateral four-beat gait, which is neither a pace nor a trot. It is often called a "single foot" because only one foot strikes the ground at a time. The term "rack" is a nomenclature for the single foot. The Racking horse gait is natural where other show breeds' rack is an artificially achieved gait resulting from special training. The Racking Horse became recognized as an official breed upon formation of the Racking Horse Breeder's Association of America in 1971. For more information see www.rackinghorse.com
Little face - June 14, 2004
1200 miles from Moab, Utah to Allen, Kanses
The Missouri Fox Trotter was developed in the rugged Ozark Mountains during the nineteenth century by setters who needed smooth-riding, durable mounts that could travel at a comfortable, surefooted gait for long distances.
Missouri achieved statehood in 1821 and the pioneers who streamed across the Mississippi River to settle in the Ozarks came mostly from the hills and plantations of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. They brought with them their finest possessions, including their best saddle stock. The breeding of this stock was largely Arabian, Morgan and plantation horses from the Deep South. Later more American Saddle bred, Tennessee Walking and Standard bred breeding was added. It soon became apparent that horses able to perform the easy, broken gait called the "fox trot" were the most useful in the rocky, forest-covered hills of the Ozarks, and selective breeding of the fox trot gait began.
Easy-gaited stock imported to America's shores during the colonial era left its genetic imprint on the fox-trotting horse in the Ozarks, the American Saddle Horses of Kentucky and the walking horses of Tennessee. Some nineteenth century greats, such as the Canadian stallion, Tom Hal, made sizeable contributions to the easy-gaited horses of all three regions.
The distinguishing characteristic of the Missouri Fox Trotter is the fox trot gait. The Fox Trot is basically a diagonal gait like the trot, but the horse appears to walk with its front legs and trot with his hind legs. Because of the back feet's sliding action, rather than the hard step of other breeds, the rider experiences little jarring action and is quite comfortable to sit for long periods of time without posting or "standing" in the saddle.
The ability to travel long distances at a comfortable speed of five to eight miles an hour made the Fox Trotting Horse a favorite of the country doctor, sheriff, assessor and stock raisers. Today the breed is in demand as a pleasure horse, show horse and for cross-country trail riding. It is often described as the common man's pleasure horse because of its gentle disposition.
Missouri ranks number two in the nation in cow-calf operations and Missouri Fox Trotting Horses are historically tied to the grazing cattle industry of the Ozarks. When automobiles made horses almost obsolete in the everyday lives of most Ozarkians, Missouri Fox Trotting Horses survived largely because the cattlemen of the region continued to use and breed them. Old Fox, one of the breed's most influential sires, was a chestnut stallion that spent his adult life trailing cattle in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas early in this century.
Because of their stamina and smooth ground-covering gaits, the Missouri Fox Trotter has become very popular with field trail competitors and those involved in the sport of long distance trail riding. Today there are approximately 80,000 registered throughout the United States, Canada, Austria and Germany.
For more information, please visit the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breeding Association at: www.mfthba.com