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The Appaloosa Horse is the answer for Week 409 of Orofino History Trivia a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country.

Join in the discovery!

Monday: Helped change a culture

Tuesday: Gave the people mobility and power

Wednesday: Spotted coats

According to the Appaloosa Horse Club site, the Spanish introduced horses to Mexico in the 1500s. Following the Pueblo Revolt, horses spread rapidly throughout North America and reached the Northwest about 1700.

The Nez Perce became excellent breeders and horsemen, creating large herds renowned for the strength, intelligence and beauty. Prior to introduction of the horse, the Nez Perce had been sedentary fishers. Horses gave the tribes greater mobility and power, altering their culture forever. Soon the Nez Perce became known throughout the Northwest for their hunting skills and craftsmanship. These skills allowed them to trade for necessary goods and services.

With their superior horses, they had little difficulty killing what buffalo they needed and soon began using the Plains-type tipi in place of their old community houses made of heavy stone mortars. They became a more mobile people leaving behind burdensome possessions at fishing spots they occasionally used or discarding them.

It is unknown how many of the Nez Perce's horses were spotted, but a possible estimate is 10 percent. Settlers coming into the area began to refer to these spotted horses as 'A Palouse Horse' as a reference to the Palouse River which runs through the area. Over time, the name evolved to 'Appaloosa'.

The Nez Perce War of 1877 resulted in the horse herds being dispersed. In the late 1800s and early 1900s interest in the breed gradually began to grow as Appaloosas began appearing in Western roundups and rodeos. With the goal of preserving and improving the breed, the Appaloosa Horse Club was chartered in 1938 and has grown to one of the leading equine breed registries in the world.

On March 25, 1975, Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus signed a bill naming the Appaloosa as the state horse.

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