Skip to main content
Original Issue


Savior of the appaloosa

In the 1870s, when the highly mobile Nez Percé Indians of the Pacific Northwest were outfighting 10 times their number of U.S. Cavalry, much of the credit was due to the appaloosa—the tireless, tractable horse the Indians had bred for generations. The Nez Percé were finally defeated, of course, and the appaloosa became a forgotten breed, destined for slow extinction. By the late 1940s, when appaloosa-admirer George Hatley of Moscow, Idaho founded the first all-appaloosa horse show in an effort to bring scattered owners together, registrations numbered fewer than 200.

Now, largely through Hatley's efforts, the horse with the spotted white flanks and the shuffling walk is again a familiar sight in the West. As of this year appaloosa registrations numbered 14,000. "After the shows got started," says Hatley, "the appaloosas popularized themselves. Once the people in the stands saw them, they couldn't help but like them."