Today’s show features Tom Mayfield of the White Bird Appaloosa Horse Rescue. You can listen to the show here:
Appaloosa Horse History
The Appaloosa Horse was bred and refined by the Nez Perce tribe, which inhabited the region of the Palouse River. It was from this river that the Appaloosa name was derived. Through generations of selected breeding, the spotted horses of the Nez Perce became renowned for their beauty, speed and endurance. When settlers intruded into their land and broken treaties robbed them of their ancestral home, the peaceful Nez Perce was driven to war. In 1877, Chief Joseph, his people and his 3000 horses began a flight to Canada. However, just below the Canadian border, Chief Joseph and his weary and suffering tribe were forced to surrender to the U.S. Cavalry.
But Chief White Bird refused and was successful in slipping through enemy lines, reaching the Canadian border with many women, children and horses. The White Bird Appaloosa Horse Rescue was named to honor the indomitable spirit of this Nez Perce chief, who could be argued to be the first rescuer of Appaloosas.
After the Nez Perce War, the Appaloosa breed nearly died out due to the U.S. Army’s attempt to abolish it through slaughter and by breeding the remaining stock with draft horses. But in 1938, a number of concerned proponents of the breed created the Appaloosa Horse Club in order to preserve these beautiful horses and to regain their earlier refinement through selective breeding. This process is continuing today and the Nez Perce tribe is a leader in this effort.
Appaloosas are most easily recognized by their spotted coats. These come in various patterns that are called blanket, roan, leopard and snowflake. The average Appaloosa horse stands between 14.2 and 15.3 hands, though some are taller. Horses of less than 14 hands are not eligible for registry. They have strong legs, striped hooves and white sclera that give their eyes a near human appearance.
While, in recent decades, Appaloosas have become strongly associated with the American west, their intelligence, easy temperament and strength make them suitable for many uses. The White Bird Appaloosa Horse Rescue is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming of these beautiful and versatile horses when circumstances place them at risk.
White Bird Appaloosa Horse Rescue