Native American Culture - History of the Indian Horse Breeds
It is generally agreed that the horse was introduced to the North American continent by the Spanish in the 1500's. The horse was indispensable to the conquest of Mexico by the Spanish conquistador, Hernan Cortez (1485 – 1547). The horses brought from Spain were a mixture of Barb, Arabian and Andalusian breeds.
- The Barb Horse breed was Developed on the Barbary Coast of North Africa. The Barb is a desert horse with great hardiness and stamina
- The versatile Arabian horse breed was developed in a desert climate by nomadic Bedouin people. Its speed, endurance and alertness made it highly suitable as a war horse
- The Andalusian breed, also known as the Pure Spanish Horse, is strongly built and known for its prowess as a war horse. Andalusia was a region in southern Spain
The qualities of these horses, which became the American Indian Horse breed - the Mustang, were perfect for riding the great Plains and hunting buffalo.
- The Mustang was a small hardy range horse of the Great Plains descended from a mix of horses brought to the Americas by the Spanish
History of the Indian Horse Culture
Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, and the horse, the Native American Indians were extremely limited in their ability to travel. They travelled on foot. Their only domesticated animals were their dogs which were sometimes used to haul an Indian's belongings on a travois, which was similar to a sled. The introduction of the horse transformed the Native American Indians into nomadic hunters and warriors - the Indian Horse Culture was born.
History of the Indian Horse - Migration to the North
At first it was difficult for an Indian to acquire a horse - horse stealing and horse raids were the first option. Horse stealing was seen as honorable by the Indians. A horse was of great value and the number of horses owned by an Indian gave him great prestige. The successful Pueblo Rebellion of 1680 forced the Spanish out of New Mexico and many of their horses were left behind. Famous tribes such as the Ute, Comanche, Kiowa, Apache, and other tribes in the area took full advantage of these horses. Horse trading became popular and the horses from the Southern regions soon started to spread to the North. By the 1700's the Pawnee, Cheyenne, Sioux. Crow, Shoshone, Mandan, Flatheads, Nez Perce and the Crees had all acquired the horse and had become highly skilled horsemen. Native American Indians began to move or migrate onto the Great Plains, fully embracing the hunter-gatherer life style.
Migration of the horse to Northern Indian Tribes
History of the Indian Horse - The Hunter Gatherer
The adoption of the Indian Horse Culture was an obvious progression for the Native American Indians. Their ability to hunt prior to the introduction of the horse was dependent on their ability to kill buffalo on foot. A dangerous and difficult task which they made easier by stampeding herds of buffalo and driving them off the edges of cliffs and drive the herd into a corral. Steep cliffs, with a corral or enclosure at the bottom, was called a piskun and was used by American Indians for driving large numbers of buffalo to their slaughter. The horse gave them the ability to hunt buffalo on horseback and adopt an efficient and lucrative hunter gatherer lifestyle.