By: Amanda Apicella
Since it came up in class and I wanted to look into it a bit more I did some digging on the history of horses in North America and in general.
The Arabian is believed to be the oldest breed of horse, some dating the breed back to around 2500 B.C (source) and is known for its endurance and soundness. Another example of an Arabian horse’s appearance can be seen here.
When it comes to horses in general its history is quite complex. The genus Equus seems to have originated in North America around 4 million years ago based on the fossil record. They migrated to Eurasia by crossing the Bering land bridge 2-3 million years ago and there apparently have been migrations to and from North America afterwards as well. Although there were several extinctions of Equus species in North America the last of them died out between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago (the genus still persisted in Eurasia and Africa though).
They were reintroduced to North America by Europeans through colonization and exploration. Native Americans captured and domesticated horses brought over by the Europeans (obtained either through trade, stolen, or re-captured escaped horses) and some tribes ended up being quite skilled in horsemanship and breeding. Although horses were only part of their history for around 150 years (although their ancestors did have experience with them thousands of years ago they were long gone by that time) they are still associated with one another as in many tribes horses became an integral part of their way of life, especially nomadic tribes and the ones that followed/hunted buffalo.
If you want to read more here are some sources:
- Live Science “The Surprising History of America’s Wild Horses“
- Horse Channel “Native American Horse Breeds“
- Animal Welfare Institute “Wild Horses as Native North American Wildlife“