HORSE NATION NATIVE AMERICAN
The Indians got their first horses from the Spanish. When the Spanish explorers Coronado and DeSoto came into America they brought horses with them. This was in the year of 1540. Some horses got away and went wild. But, the Indians did not seem to have done much with these wild horses. They did not start to ride or use horses until much later.
In the 1600s there were a lot of Spanish missions and settlers in New Mexico just to the west of Texas. This is where the Pueblo and Navaho Indians live. The Spanish in New Mexico used Indians as slaves and workers. These Indian slaves and workers learned about horses working on the Spanish ranches. The Spanish had a law that made it a crime for an Indian to own a horse or a gun. Still these Indians learned how to train a horse and they learned how to ride a horse. They also learned how to use horses to carry packs.
Horses spread across the Southern Plains pretty quickly. French traders reported that the Cheyenne Indians in Kansas got their first horses in the year of 1745. Horses changed life for the plains Indians. Plains Indians, including Texas Plains Indians, hunted buffalo on foot before they had horses. Buffalo are not easy to hunt on foot. They can run away faster than a hunter can run after them. With a horse, a hunter can chase after the buffalo and keep up with them. A group of hunters can ride horses up to a heard of buffalo and get close enough to shoot arrows at them before the buffalo run away.
In a very short time Plains Indians learned to be expert riders. Along with hunting they learned to use the horses to make war and go on raids. They could go much farther than they ever could on foot and arrive rested and able to fight. The tribes who learned how to use horses first and fast had a huge advantage over other tribes. They quickly pushed other tribes out of their former territories and expanded their territories. Tribes like the Comanche and Cheyenne who had horses and knew how to use them first pushed other tribes like the Apache, Wichita and Tonkawa south and west off the plains. The Apache who now live in New Mexico and in Old Mexico used to live way up in the Texas panhandle and north of Texas. Bands of Comanche warriors on horseback were powerful and feared by everyone – Indians and Europeans.
The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature, Eohippus, into the large, single-toed animal of today. Humans began to domesticate horses around 4000 BC, and their domestication is believed to have been widespread by 3000 BC.
Horses' anatomy enables them to make use of speed to escape predators and they have a well-developed sense of balance and a strong fight-or-flight response. Related to this need to flee from predators in the wild is an unusual trait: horses are able to sleep both standing up and lying down. Female horses, called mares, carry their young for approximately 11 months, and a young horse, called a foal, can stand and run shortly following birth. Most domesticated horses begin training under saddle or in harness between the ages of two and four. They reach full adult development by age five, and have an average lifespan of between 25 and 30 years.
Horse breeds are loosely divided into three categories based on general temperament: spirited "hot bloods" with speed and endurance; "cold bloods", such as draft horses and some ponies, suitable for slow, heavy work; and "warmbloods", developed from crosses between hot bloods and cold bloods, often focusing on creating breeds for specific riding purposes, particularly in Europe. There are more than 300 breeds of horse in the world today, developed for many different uses.
The following terminology is used to describe horses of various ages:
• Colt: A male horse under the age of four. A common terminology error is to call any young horse a "colt", when the term actually only refers to young male horses.
• Filly: A female horse under the age of four.
• Foal: A horse of either sex less than one year old. A nursing foal is sometimes called a suckling and a foal that has been weaned is called a weanling. Most domesticated foals are weaned at five to seven months of age, although foals can be weaned at four months with no adverse physical effects.
• Gelding: A castrated male horse of any age.
• Mare: A female horse four years old and older.
• Stallion: A non-castrated male horse four years old and older. The term "horse" is sometimes used colloquially to refer specifically to a stallion.
• Yearling: A horse of either sex that is between one and two years old.
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