The polka-dot horse prancing on these pages boasts a colorful past and a claim to a very bright future. Although he has been known by many names in many places (the Sacred Horse in Persia, the Heavenly Horse in China), his most recent appellation in the United States, where he arrived via Mexico, is Appaloosa. The Nez Percé Indians of the Pacific Northwest developed the breed, after early settlers brought it to the Western Hemisphere from Europe; the French pioneers of the area named it for the river by which they grazed, the Palouse, and "A Palouse" became a term.
Dusted with tear-shaped and round dots all over the body or blanketed with spots across the rump, the Appaloosas were not only ornamental but figured dramatically in early frontier history. They carried the Nez Percé Indians through buffalo hunts and battles until the day in 1877 when Chief Joseph led his tribe to its final defeat at the hands of the U.S. Cavalry. Later used as cow ponies on isolated ranches, their characteristic traits began to disappear, and a few decades ago there were no more than 50 pure Appaloosas left. Interested ranchers banded together and organized a club which gave birth to Appaloosa horse shows. In 1950 the breed was recognized as pure and now its numbers have increased beyond the herd of Chief Joseph's time. Next week (Aug. 16-17) at the 10th National Appaloosa Horse Show in Canby, Oregon, hundreds of descendants of the Nez Percé herd will be on hand, demonstrating by their toughness, beauty and versatility that Appaloosas will always be ridden again.
Fast and handy, Appaloosas excel at traditional game in which galloping riders grab rope-ends hung above them
Past glories are commemorated by Jesse Redheart, who wears the attire inherited from his ancestor, Chief Joseph, leader of the Nez Perce Indians who developed Appaloosa
August 11, 1957
Present popularity is demonstrated during the Sunday parade of 50 horses. Mrs. Roy Marble (foreground) rides an Appaloosa mare named Miss Echo Wing
In prairie stump race, Bill Benoist of Long Beach, Calif. spins his stallion, Joker B, around barrel
Thundering down the dusty stretch, Appaloosas gallop home at end of a quarter-mile race. Tough and speedy breed was used by Indians to run buffalo. Today's riders show off horse's stamina in sprint races