Horse Breeding

Find out how the role of horse breeding became an important aspect of Native American life.

Horse Breeding

Horse breeding would eventually become a trade among the Indians. Long ago Native American Indians used dogs to carry their goods for travel. It wasn't until the Spanish settlers traded horses with the Indians did the Indians ever set sight on a horse. Afraid of the animals at first, later the Indians would learn to ride and handle horses better than most others. Though the Spaniards were forbidden to give horses to the Indians, when Indians were used as slaves, they were given horses to help them with their work. When the Spanish left the area, they left many horses behind and the Indians took advantage of this, gathering the horses to train as their own.

Individuals in the Indian tribe owned the horse and not the whole tribe as many believe. Indians were often divided among those who owned horses and those who didn't. Because horse breeding only provided the original horse owner with more horses, those without horses either had to trade for a horse or go to Mexico to try and steal a horse. Later Indians would steal horses from other tribes often looking for the tribes involved in horse breeding so they could obtain the best of the horses.

A prized horse was the buffalo horse. Indians found it difficult to ride a horse while holding a gun. Loading these muzzleloaders was nearly impossible while galloping on a horse. Often Indians would use bows and arrows to hunt buffalo instead. A buffalo horse would be trained to run next to a buffalo during a hunt, making it much easier for the Indian warrior to bring down a buffalo. These Indian warriors received great honor because of their horse breeding of the buffalo horse.

Once the horse entered the Native American Indians way of life, many changes came about the tribes. They must now live in open land with available pastures to feed the horses. This made the Indians more vulnerable to attacks from the Calvary. Still, the use of horses brought about great benefits to the Indians, helping them obtain food easier and quicker and giving them better fighting abilities.

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