APPALOOSA SHUFFLEFor those of you who have never come across the
term 'Indian shuffle' before, here is the explanation.....read
known as the INDIAN SHUFFLE)
published by Appaloosa News, June 1978 Issue
Some folks think the
"Indian shuffle" is as much a birthright of the
Appaloosa as its spots and striped hooves. Others have never
heard of it. Is this Indian shuffle a skeleton in the
Appaloosa closet or a valuable asset to the breed?
The Indian shuffle, like the pace, is a
lateral gait: the legs on the same side of the horse move
together. In the shuffle, the pace is broken as each hoof
hits the ground a fraction ahead of the other which results
in four beats as in the walk. The shuffle is sometimes
called the "running walk," but the true walk, like
the trot, is a diagonal gait.
The shuffle, as its name implies, does not
have much elevation. The horse moves with a rolling motion
of the shoulders and hips, the motion of the horse is
absorbed in its back and loins giving the rider a smooth,
gliding ride. Also, because the pace is broken, it lacks the
side-to-side motion of the true pace.
The Spanish were the first to bring horses
to the Americas. Among their horses were many the Spanish
called "paso fino," which simply means
smooth-gaited. These horses were not a breed but were prized
for their natural broken pace that forced any other horse to
trot or lope to keep up.
These horses are still prized by the
Spanish descendents in South America where selective
breeding for the gait has been maintained for hundreds of
years. You may recognize the names: The Paso Fino, the
Peruvian Paso, the Columbian Paso. All are now true breeds,
descendents of the easy-gaited horse brought to the Americas
by the Spanish.
What happened to the Spaniards paso fino
in North America? The Spanish established settlements in New
Mexico, taking local Pueblo Indians to work as serfs,
farming and taking care of the large numbers of horses the
Spanish kept to herd their cattle.
From the Spanish the Indians learned how
to care for horses, and though it was forbidden, they also
learned to ride. Occasionally a stable boy would run away
with one of his charges, or some of the plains Indians would
capture the runaway serfs and bargain with the Spanish for
horses. But the Indians acquired many of their horses in the
Pueblo Revolt of 1680.
Under the leadership of Pope, a deposed
medicine man, Indians all over New Mexico arose on the same
day, killing some 400 Spanish. The rest of the Spanish fled
leaving behind their settlements and their herds of horses.
The Pueblo Indians, being a sheep-herding people, traded
most of the horses to the buffalo hunters of the plains.
white settlers came to the Northwest Palouse region, they called the
spotted horses "Palouse horses" or "a Palouse
The Appaloosa's heritage is as colorful and unique
as its coat pattern. Usually noticed and recognized because of its
spots and splashes of color, the abilities and beauty of this breed
are more than skin deep.
Appaloosas are found in nearly every discipline.
Setting speed records on the race track, excelling at advanced levels
of dressage, jumping, games, reining, roping, pleasure, endurance and
as gentle family horses - any of these roles can be filled by the
versatile Appaloosa. Their eager-to-please attitudes and gentle
dispositions make them a pleasure to work with in any area.
Humans have recognized and appreciated the spotted
horse throughout history. Ancient cave drawings as far back as 20,000
years ago in what is now France depict spotted horses, as do detailed
images in Asian and 17th-century Chinese art.
The Spanish introduced horses to North America as
they explored the American continents. Eventually, as these horses
found their way into the lives of Indians and were traded to other
tribes, their use spread until most of the Native American populations
in the Northwest were mounted (about 1710).
The Nez Perce of Washington, Oregon and Idaho became
especially sophisticated horsemen, and their mounts, which included
many spotted individuals, were prized and envied by other tribes.
Historians believe they were the first tribe to breed selectively for
specific traits - intelligence and speed - keeping the best, and
trading away those that were less desirable.
When white settlers came to the Northwest Palouse
region, they called the spotted horses "Palouse horses" or
"a Palouse horse." Over time the name was shortened and
slurred to "Appalousey" and finally "Appaloosa."
During the Nez Perce War of the late 1800's,
Appaloosa horses helped the Nez Perce avoid battles and elude the U.S.
Cavalry for several months. The tribe fled over 1,300 miles of rugged,
punishing terrain under the guidance of the famed Chief Joseph. When
they were defeated in Montana, their surviving horses were surrendered
to soldiers, left behind or dispersed to settlers. Nothing was done to
preserve the Appaloosa until 1938, when a group of dedicated horsemen
formed the Appaloosa Horse Club for the preservation and improvement
of the diminishing spotted horse.