History of the Appaloosa and Foundation Characteristics
The Appaloosa we recognise today all started in the early 1700´s when the Nez Perce Indians acquired their first horses. Previously a sedentary fishing tribe, the Nez Perce´s acquisition of horses improved their mobility, their ability to hunt and their power, thus altering their culture forever.
The Nez Perce took to horsemanship fast. Quickly learning and becoming the first known people to selectively breed only their best stock. With their superior horses they were now able to trade their hunting skills and craftmanship throughout the Northwest of America.
The famous explorer Meriwether Lewis noted the breeding accomplishments of the Nez Perce, of these then named ´Palouse´ horses due to the Northwest river and valley of that name, in a diary entry from February 15th, 1806 "Their horses appear to be of an excellent race; lofty, elegantly formed, active and durable....some of these horses are pided with large spots of white irregularly scattered and intermixed with black, brown, bay or some other dark colour"
But to learn where those spots came from we need to look further back.... Evidence of spotted horses can be found in the paleolithic era, 18,000 B.C., in cave paintings in France.
There is also evidence of spotted horses existing in Egypt, China and Persia. Spain breed them and developed them into a riding horse later taken to Mexico in the 16th century by the conquistadores.
The spotted horses of Russia also play their part according to the oral history of the Nez Perce. A Russian ship dropped anchor off the shore of what is now known as Oregon and three spotted stallions were swam ashore in exchange for supplies. According to many, most notably George Long Grass , these stallions were purchased at ´twice the price´ by the Nez Perce from the Siletz Indians and bred to their best mares produced the coveted bloodlines of today. From these breedings came the Ghost Wind Stallion . The famous medicine horse that the Nez Perce gave their lives to protect as they fled the murderous cavalry in the 1877 war.
AN APPALOOSA IS NOT JUST A SPOTTY HORSE!
Foundation Appaloosa horses are extolled for their intelligence and willing attitude. They are versatile. A patient owner with the time to train (or a competent trainer) can teach these foals to excel in many disciplines be it Jumping, Dressage, one of the many Western disciplines, Endurance or Trail Riding. Their pleasing disposition is an innate characteristic.
To have great conformation and athletic ability is not enough if the horse is too hot or difficult to handle for most riders. Alternatively, the gentlest horse with the sweetest disposition can be dangerous if he can't keep his feet over rough terrain. Either horse, strikingly coloured, fast, or beautifully presented, can get you injured if he's not up to the job at hand and capable of interacting dependably with humans. A true Appaloosa horse ranges from 14.2-16 hands. Their weight is proportionate to their frame. They are a well-balanced, middle-of-the-road horse. Not high-hipped, excessively tall or heavy, nor are they exceptionally refined or overly muscled. The Appaloosa should be symetrical and smooth, well-muscled, have prominent withers and a short back. Generally their tails are naturally short and manes are upright and can appear roached or zebra-like. A true Appaloosa can have a colourful coat but must have mottled skin about the mouth and white sclera around the eye, like a human being. Many have large heads and vertically stripped hooves. When you have learned what a true Appaloosa looks like you will know a fraud instantly.
Here at ESPIRITU DEL VIENTO we breed horses who love people for people who love horses
These are the horses of Ghengis Khan who conquered one-third of the earth. They are descendants of Nez Perce stock that escaped cavalry roundups and bounty hunters. The true Appaloosa is a survivor. And survivors are intelligent and resourceful. Watch your Appaloosa paw through snow to look for grass the way he did on the Mongolian steppe 700 winters ago. Revel in the way he learns to untie himself quicker than the other horses, then unties them! And it’s not stupidity that has him picking up buckets and brushes and throwing them around the yard, it’s a sense of humor and don't ever think an Appaloosa doesn't have one.
His capacity to learn will astound you. He is easily bored with repetition so don't lunge him in idiotic circles to provide a workout, he'll just get disgusted and shut down mentally. An Appaloosa will test you. Look at everything from a new perspective. Don’t lead him into his stall, back him in. The same with his paddock and negotiating the gate, try things from a new angle. Walk him over a scary tarp or noisy plastic until he can wear it. It won´t take long in my experience! Mount and dismount him from the offside for a change. Pony another horse behind him. If he's a jumper, try to rope a fence post off him. If he's a dressage horse, trot him over a small jump. Try to do as many different things with him as you can even if they are only small and subtle. Don't be afraid to test him. He will teach you. Watch how, having mastered something new, he will then figure out a shortcut to it. You´ll find yourself wanting for ideas!
Where in this world can man find nobility without pride, friendship without envy, beauty without vanity? Here, where grace is laced with muscle, and strength by gentleness confined. He serves without servility; he has fought without enmity. There is nothing so powerful, nothing less violent; there is nothing so quick, nothing more patient. Our past has been borne on his back. All our history is his industry: We are his heirs, he is our inheritance. Ladies and Gentlemen: The Horse!
Author; Robert Duncan