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Appaloosa – The Most Beautiful Horse Breed in the World
The tribe returned in the late seventeenth century, to the northwestern part of North America and especially to a large area covering what is now part of the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. This is the land inhabited by the Nez Percé Native Americans, and it is to their horse-forward thinking and breeding practices that the Appaloosa owes its success.
Although the Nez Percé developed the spotted breed, the history of spotted horses is long, with images of spotted horses appearing in European cave paintings that exist from around 17,000 BCE The horses we have seen – in particular the Austrian Noriker and the Danish Knabstrup – are very popular. in Europe and they were in great demand from the sixteenth century to perform in the increasingly popular Riding Schools. Many of the pure Spanish horses, too, including the venerable Andalusian, once displayed the visible coat colors.
Horses introduced to the Americas by the Spanish conquistadors carried a strong defective gene, which spread throughout North America as the Spanish continued their explorations. The Shoshone tribe from southern Idaho became great horse traders, and it was from the Shoshone mainly the Nez Percé, whose territories far to the north and west, received their horses. The Nez Percé land, with its fertile plains and sheltered areas, was ideal for raising horses, and the tribe quickly established a large breeding stock. Unlike many American Indian tribes, the Nez Percé set about implementing breeding programs to significantly improve their horses. Only the best horses were kept as stallions, while those with poor stamina were gelded. The tribe keeps the best of its breeding stock and removes poor horses through trade with other tribes. The number of their horses rose quickly, and the Nez Percé became a wealthy tribe based on the size of their horses. In the early 1800s, the American explorer Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) described the Nez Percé horses as “of the best race; they are well formed, active, and durable.”
Color is an important consideration for the Nez Percé, not only for jewelry and decorative purposes but also for camouflage. However, their primary concern during breeding is to produce an all-round horse of great strength, speed, and toughness, and one that is able to survive on scant diets. Their horses became famous for these qualities and were capable of pulling a plow as they ran at great speed with a rider. Their most valuable horses are used when they fight, and they are fast, swift, and intelligent, and the most respected of these are those they see.
The horses found that belonged to the Nez Percé were described as Palouse horses by the white settlers, taking the name from the Palouse River that flowed through the Nez Percé region. Later the horse became known as “Palouse,” then as Appalousey. The name Appaloosa was not given to the breed until 1938 with the establishment of the Appaloosa Horse Club, established to preserve the breed. About 50 years before this, however, a large, visible breed was wiped out during the Nez Percé War fought between American Indians and the United States government in 1877. The Nez Percé were able to defeat the US cavalry for more than three years. months and across 1,300 miles (2,092 km) of treacherous terrain, only because of the strength and endurance of their Appaloosa horses. The Nez Percé did not win the war but eventually surrendered to avoid further hardships to the people trying to cope with the Montana cold. The terms of their surrender stated that they were allowed to return to their lands in the spring with their horses, but instead they were sent to North Dakota and many of their loved ones and valuable animals were killed. Some escaped, and others were later rounded up by herders and used or sold.
After this, some of the remaining horses were quickly put on the market, and acquired from a few private individuals and breeders who recognized the qualities they were born with. started giving birth to them. In 1937, Western Horseman magazine published an article on the Appaloosa written by Francis Haines, sparking public interest in the breed. The following year, Claude Thompson, a trainer of horses, joined with several others and organized the Appaloosa Horse Club to care for and raise the horses. In 1947, there were 100 registered horses and 100 members. Just three years later, under the leadership of George Hatley, the club had an impressive figure of over 300,000 horses registered, making it the largest three-horse breed registration. During this heat of the Appaloosa there was some exposure of Arabian blood and considerable influence from the Quarter Horse, which can be seen in the muscular frame of the modern Appaloosa.
In 1994 the Nez Percé tribe based in what is now Idaho began a breeding program to develop the Nez Percé horse. The aim of this system, which was based on breeding the old Appaloosa stock with the Akhal Teke breeders, was to produce a beautiful, hardy, versatile, and agile horse equal in its abilities to the original horses of the Nez Percé. Some, though not all, of these horses display the coat pattern seen of their Appaloosa heritage, although they all adhere to the sleeker, better frame of the Akhal Teke. Today, the Appaloosa is considered one of the most beautiful horse breeds (reference) in the world!
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