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The Palouse Horse

The Palouse Horse

No one is able to prove how these tough Mongolian horses first came to the New World. The longest-running assumption is their introduction by the Spanish. A more recent theory results from a Russian shipwreck off the North Pacific coast. Since the Mongol Empire traded horses throughout the world, the actual arrival of the first Appaloosas to the North American continent will likely remain a mystery.

In the 1600's French trappers noticed colorful horses inhabiting The Palouse River Valley. This region, running through what is now Washington and Idaho, was home to the Nez Perce Indians. The trappers began referring to this type of horse as "a Palousie" which later became Appaloosa.

However these little spotted horses came to them, the Nez Perce realized their value for hunting and war in the high plateau country. Long-skilled as dog breeders, the Nez Perce where the first selective breeders of American Appaloosas. In the 100 years that they had them, the Nez Perce-bred horses were hardy and intelligent with endless stamina. The Nez Perce Appaloosas were taught to catch a running herd of buffalo and put their riders alongside for the kill. The sound of the arrow leaving the bow, was the horse's cue to move in and cut the wounded buffalo from the herd - a dangerous and demanding job, to say the least. When trading horses the Nez Perce would proclaim, "one Appaloosa worth ten ordinary ponies."

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