The Cayuse Indian Pony
and the Chickasaw Indian pony are two strains which stem from the
earliest imports to the Americas of Iberian and Barb horses. The
Cayuse Indian Pony was bred specifically to produce a hardy, strong
pony with great speed. It has inherited the Iberian's noble manner
and probably also has genetic links to the Missouri Fox Trotter.
It was the wild horses
that became the symbol of what the West stood for, with all its
cattle drives, shootouts, and US Cavalry in all its glory - the
wild horse, with its freedom, stamina, and endurance. The Cayuse
Indian Pony is one of the little-known horses that existed in that
time period. The ponies raised and ridden by the American Indians
were often referred to as "cayuse" ponies. This originated in the
1800s. The Cayuse Indian Pony's conformation and background set
it apart from the common mustang and other such wild horses.
The small, stocky Cayuse
Indian Pony sports high withers and a long cannon bone. It's distinctly
slope pastern gives it a rather broken walking gait; however, younger
children find this extremely pleasant and easy to ride. The Cayuse
Indian pony has been immortalized in many sketches by Frederic Remington,
an artist famous for his representation of the Old West. He described
this pony breed as "generally roan in color, with always a tendency
this way, no matter how slight." He said that his subjects were
heavily muscled, and though only standing around 14 hands high,
were very powerful.
The history of this breed
is faded and very hard to trace. It has been widely accepted that
the pony descended from the French-Norman horses that were imported
into Canada in the 1600s. Most of those horses were Percherons,
which the local Canadians used to improve their breeds. The French
Canadians brought their horses in American territory years later;
it has been said that they bartered their horses in St. Louis with
the Pawnee Indians, who proceeded to take the horses farther west.
The Indians then crossed the French horses with the Spanish Barb,
a lighter breed. This in turn tended to produce a horse that was
fast and could endure a lot.
Around the 1800s the Cayuse
Indian Pony became a breed of its own. The Cayuse Indians, known
throughout the Northwest for their incredible horsemanship, further
developed this breed through selective breeding. They were able
to produce some very colorful horses, due to the tendency of the
French horse to pass on spots and a profusion of white markings.
The Appaloosa, Paint, and Pinto horses have all been greatly influenced
by the blood of the Cayuse Indian Pony.
Sadly, today only a handful
of these horses even exist; they are seldom seen outside California.
Jeff Edwards, the co-founder of the Wild Horse Research Center in
Porterville, California, has been trying to rebuild the breed and
protect it from extinction. Despite his efforts, however, over 100
Cayuse Indian ponies were lost a couple of years ago, when their
pasture land was sprayed with a toxic herbicide. The Research Center
is optimistic about the breed's recovery, though. They recently
donated a Cayuse Indian Pony to the Kentucky Horse Park (in Lexington),
hoping that more people would discover the saga of this unique,
vitally important horse. In addition, they work carefully with a
small bunch at the farm and wait anxiously for the crop of spring
foals each year.
The Cayuse Indian Pony
has been accepted as one of the registrars of the "Horse of the
Americas" breeds. Jeff Edwards determined the purity of each and
every horse based on their physical characteristics and charts that
were extensively researched by the Wild Horse Research Center. The
Center has established a registry for wild horses and ponies that
possess Barb blood, thereby rendering the Cayuse Indian pony one
of the accepted breeds.
Return to Pony Breeds Page
Exmoor Event Bridle
Black Beta Biothane Single Reins
Oster Hoof Pick
Mane 'N Tail Conditioner