The Fascinating History of Appaloosa Horses

With their beautiful dappled coats and exceptional endurance, Appaloosa horses are world renowned as being one of the most exclusive breeds on the planet. Even more interesting than the animals themselves, however, is their history, and exactly how they came to be so beloved by trainers and breeders in every corner of the world.

The Appaloosa horse was originally bred by the Nez Perce tribe, a Native American tribe from America which inhabited the Palouse River region. It was from this river that the name of the breed was taken, and through many generations of selective breeding in the 20th century, the spotted equines of the region became known for their endurance, their speed, and of course, their incredible beauty.

A Quest to Keep the Breed Alive

When European settlers invaded the lands of the Nez Perce tribe and broke the treaties that gave them rights to their ancestral home, the peaceful people of the Palouse River were forced into war. In 1877, Chief Joseph, along with his people and 3,000 of his finest horses, embarked on a long journey to Canada. However, just before reaching the Canadian border, the chief and his weary tribe were forced to surrender to the infamous US Cavalry.

It may have seemed like the end of the road for the Nez Perce, but Chief White Bird refused to admit defeat. He managed to slip through his enemy’s lines, and reached the Canadian border with hundreds of women, children, and Appaloosa horses; a deed which has helped to inspire many pop culture classics, online pokies Australia, and more. It was this deed that inspired the White Bird Appaloosa Horse Rescue organization and its name, which still honours the fighting spirit of this Native American chief today.

Once the Nez Perce War was over, the Appaloosa breed almost died out altogether as the US Army launched a campaign to slaughter as many of them as possible and breed the rest with regular draft horses. However, in 1938, numerous concerned lovers of the breed founded the Appaloosa Horse Club in a bid to preserve the majestic horses and help them regain their genetic finesse through continuous selective breeding. This process is still on going to this day, and interestingly, the Nez Perce tribe has remained instrumental therein.

Characteristics of Appaloosas

Appaloosa horses are very easily recognized by their gorgeous spotted coats, which come in different variations like leopard, blanket, snowflake and roan. The average horse belonging to this breed stands at 14.2 to 15.3 hands high, although some can actually exceed this height. Their average weight ranges from 950 to 1,200 pounds, and if kept healthy, they can live as long as 30 years. They are characterized by their strong, long legs, their striped hooves, and for having white eye sclera, which almost give their eyes a human-like quality.

Over the past few decades, these horses have become associated with the great American West, while their easy going temperament and strength make them simple to train and suitable for a variety of uses. The White Bird Appaloosa Horse Rescue is currently the leading organization dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming these unique equines, especially when any circumstances place them in danger.


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