Posted by NightSky on January 28, 2000 at 07:19:54:
Since I finally have our mares on our web site, thought I would give you a little history and then (if you want) you can go to the web site and see what a true Native American horse looks like.
When the Federal Govt. decided they were through fighting the Indians of the West, they wanted some way to break their spirit for good before withdrawing troups from the forts and leaving the reservations to fend for themselves. Some bright eyed govt. boy decided the best way to break the Indian was to kill their horses. So much of their culture and livelyhood surrounded their horses, not to mention their pride, it was felt the destruction of the horse would mean the end to meaningful conflict in the West.
The first to go had to be the Appaloosa, which is credited to the Nez Perce, but existed throughout the mounted tribes. The Nez Perce could not possibly have kept a large enough gene pool to assure the quality of their horses, and often traded with other tribes to assure continued success of their breeding program. In 1877, with the Nez Perce fleeing toward Canada, the Cavalry began the systematic slaughter of the spotted horse. Over the next 10 years, any spotted horse the govt. could get in its cross hairs was shot on sight.
When word reached ranchers in the west of what was happening, they quickly began gathering and hiding the best spotted horses they could find, often resorting to "painting" them with mud when visitors were at their ranch. Slowly, word spread through the private sector that other ranchers had done the same thing, and around the turn of the century, ranchers began to actively and openly breed Appaloosas again. In 1937, the Appaloosa Horse Club of America was formed, providing the breed with it's first official registry.
So what does this have to do with our farm? Of the 10's of thousands of spotted horses that existed in the west, only 374 were saved by ranchers. Those 374 were too small a gene pool to reestablish a breed, so outbreeding was begun immediately in an attempt to save the animals from North American extention. Most modern Appaloosas contain very little Appaloosa blood, but we are proud here at NightSky to own a true foundation Appaloosa mare, Sun's Krystal (aka Annie). She decends directly to Sundance 500 on both sides of her family, and we were contacted last year by a breeder in Finland who wanted to purchase her to take to Equitana 2000 in Germany to represent her breed to the world. We declined, mostly because if you're a horse in Europe, and you don't do what they tell you, they eat you. I could stand a lot of things, but not that.
Although, most modern American Apps have manes and tails, the more foundation App blood they carry, the less mane and tail they have. Anyone that's ever cared for a horse, knows the biggest part of grooming is caring for the mane and tail. Native Americans found it a bother, and an interferance, so they began centuries ago to breed for this preferance. In today's breed, they are known as "rat tails" and I've run into numerous breeders who proclaim to breed foundation Apps, but are proud that they have tails. I just smile and say how nice for them, and usually am polite enough not to point out that what they really own is a Quarter Horse with spots. Annie also has the size that is hard to find today. Quarter Horses are much smaller than the original Apps, so extensive AQHA blood has made the horse smaller in stature. Annie stands 15.2H, which is a considerable 3 inches taller at the shoulder than the average Quarter Horse. She's a powerful animal, that could have carried the largest brave into battle, without a single spot of extra war paint needed. One more little bit of info. The Appaloosa Horse Club is today the 3rd largest breed registry in the world, with well over 100,000 animals officially designated as decendents of those first 374 horses.
The pic on the web site was taken in Oct., 99. She looks very different today, as she is only 2-1/2 months away from delivering us another grand foal, so she has that beached whale thing going for her now. She's the first horse on our Mares of NightSky page, and is followed by the two sons we have raised out of her. YRH
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