The History Of Horses And Texas
When you say the word horses a few places come to mind, Montana, Wyoming, but none as much as Texas. Texas and its horses have quite a history. In this article we will introduce you to a little Texas history and the horses that are involved.
First, we have to go into a little Mexican and Spanish History. Texas was, for a long time, under Spanish rule. Spain ruled Mexico and Mexico ruled Texas you might say.
Spain’s introduction of warfare on horseback is very well known. The horse helped the Conquistadors conquer more and more territory throughout South America. Their territory once extended from Peru and Argentina all the way up into Texas and Louisiana.
Most of the groups the warriors from Spain encountered had no horses and were at a huge disadvantage in battle. The image we always see of the Spanish Soldier is one of him in armor and on horseback.
Another image that is conjured up when mentioning horses and Texas is Indians on horseback. What many do not know is that the Indians in Texas had no horses until they were brought in during Spanish rule of the area. Most hoses the Indians rode were ones stolen from settlers and soldiers after seeing the advantage the soldiers had over them.
When Mexicans first began to settle in Texas around where the Friars built their missions to bring religion to the Indians, most of them didn’t bring horses either. People walked hundreds of miles to get to where they would eventually settle and build their homes. Many had mules or donkeys, but few had horses.
It was the same for those who came from various places within the new United States. They came by boat to New Orleans many times, but then had a long walk to get to their new Texas home where the Mexican government was giving land away for free.
The settlers soon discovered there were wild horses in Texas. What we now call Mustangs were abundant and were free if you could catch them and train them. These horses were not as big as other horses, but they were very sturdy and strong animals that became a huge part of Texas history.
You have to see it how it was then. There was not that much actual cash money to be had anywhere in Texas. There was free land if you were willing to go there and claim it. There were free horses if you were willing to catch and train them. There were even free cattle if you were willing to round them up, the Texas Longhorn.
So many settlers made the long trek to Texas, converted to Catholicism, which was required by the Mexican government if you wanted free land, then captured and trained free Mustangs, which they then used to round up the free cattle.
It sounds great, huh? Just go grab some free land, free horses, and free cattle and you were on your way! Not exactly. It was a very rough life. One that not many people today could even fathom. There was not many people in Texas, some Indian tribes did not want settlers there and showed it through violent attacks, and the work was hard.
To make money from the cattle or horses that were collected they had to be driven all the way to New Orleans for sale. This drive took months to accomplish. The travel we do today spoils our ability to understand the way it was for these settlers.
Some of them spent more than a year traveling to find where they and their families would settle. They then spent at least another year building their house and gathering the horses and cattle that might make up their rancho. Then figure at least a 6 month round trip to sell cattle or horses just to make enough money to buy supplies that were not available free on the Texas range.
The Mustang Horse proved to be one of the best horses for soldiers. It was sturdy enough to handle the rough terrain that larger horses could not handle. They could go without water longer than other horses. They were not skittish when it came to gunfire and battle.
The Texas Rangers rode Mustangs while roaming Texas in search of Banditos and Outlaws. Many men riding Mustangs fought the Battle of San Jacinto. The Apache Indians used them somewhat, but the fierce Comanche Indians had many Mustangs and were some of the greatest horsemen to ever live anywhere. But that is another story.
I hope this short article gave you at least a glimpse into where horses in Texas came from and how they were used. Look in your favorite search engine for more about the Mustangs that still run free today and for more about Texas history and horses. You’ll find the topic interesting and entertaining.
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