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Catching of the HorsesHorse - The Indians of the Southwest were the first to obtain the horse.

When  he first saw the horse the Indian was frightened.  He thought the horse and its rider were one animal.  Some considered it sacred.  When the Hope first saw this animal they spread scarfs on the ground for it to walk on.  The Dakota termed the horse the  "mystery dog."

After the Indian had overcome his superstition and fear, he captured and stole horses or traded them, and then he felt himself as powerful as the Spaniard.

Previously the Indian had only the dog as a transport animal.  His life and habits quickly changed with the acquisition of the horse.  he could travel greater distances, take more baggage, hunt buffalo more efficiently, and put his unmounted enemy at a disadvantage in war.

There had been horses in America thousands of years ago.  Fossil bones show them to have been very small.  it is believed the early Indians considered the horse only as a food animal, and that these horses were killed off, finally becoming extinct.

The horses brought to America by the Spaniards increased rapidly.  After a time they roamed the territory from the Rio Grande to what is now the Canadian border.

The Ute, Apache, Comanche, Kiowa, and Caddo were among the first to acquire horses.  Comancheros, unscrupulous half-breed traders, bartered horse with the Plains Indians and then carried them to far off tribes.  By the middle of the eighteenth century no band of buffalo hunting Indians was unmounted.

While many students of the "horse culture" of the Indians believe that the Indian Ponieshorse which stocked the Plains had been left behind by Coronado, others contend that all his "five hundred and fifty-eight horses, two of them mares," were accounted for in his muster roll.  These latter authorities believe that horses came from stock raising settlements in the Southwest, particularly those in the neighborhood of Santa Fè, New Mexico.  many of them spread northward through the normal channels of trade, although Indians acquired many by raids on ranches and settlements.

The English first brought horse into Virginia in 1620.  The Spanish introduced them into the Southeast, where in 1650 they had seventy-nine missions, eight large towns, and two royal ranches.  Attacks by the English and Indians scattered these horse and they increased and multiplied in the wild state.

The French brought the first horses into Canada in 1635.  Indians marveled at these animals and called them the "moose of France."  In 1735 the Iroquois were raining these French horses.

Indians at first rode bareback or with only a pad saddle of skin.  Their bridles were thongs looped around the horses' lower jaws.  An Indian would keep a long neck rope dragging so that if he were unseated he could grab the rope and stop his horse.

The Indian broke his horse by a system all his own.  Sometimes it was by what cowboys termed "injun gentling." where he spent days becoming on friendly terms with his horse.  Other times he employed the "Indian blanket act," where by the use of a blanket he was enabled to "hypnotize" his horse.  "Injun gentled" horses were prized by cowboys.  They were tough and easily managed.

The Indian mounted his horse from the right side, instead of the left as did the cowboy.  Horseman today mount from the left side because in the old days cavalrymen and others who carried swords on the left side were forced to do so.  The custom was carried down through the ages - but the Indian was not bound by such a custom and mounted in the way that seemed natural to him.

The Indian's horsemanship was excellent.  He could slip to the side of a speeding horse and shoot from beneath the animal's neck.  He guided by pressure of his legs.  He tethered his horse on the prairie by using a bone at the end of his tie rope and burying it in the ground, or he would hitch the rope to a tuft of grass.

The pinto pony and the gray horse were favored by most Indians.  TheseWar Ponies blended better with the landscape and also took war paint better than other horses.  Indians had different ways of painting their ponies.  The Blackfoot favored red paint.  If a horseman ran over an enemy in battle, he could paint a hand on both shoulders of his pony.  War ponies were decorated not only with paint, but with cloth streamers tied to their manes and tails, and human scalps to their bridles.

The war pony and the buffalo pony were considered the most valuable.  Horses were used in barter and trade and a suitor might pay twenty horses for a bride.  A medicine man might charge five horses as a fee for expelling some disease.  Among the Sioux and Cheyenne a good horse was worth the plumage of two eagles.

Some Indians ate horse, drank the melted fat, and rubbed the blood in their hair, because they believed this would give them the strength of the horse.  They used the hair of the mane and tail to braid ropes and for decoration.  A dead warrior's horse often was killed at the burial place, so the brave's spirit would be properly mounted in the hereafter.

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