The Appaloosa Horse
A Story of Survivors
The Appaloosa Horse was bred and refined by the Nez Perce tribe, which inhabited the region of the Palouse River. It was from this river that the Appaloosa name was derived. Through generations of selective breeding, the spotted horses of the Nez Perce became renowned for their beauty, speed and endurance. When settlers intruded into their land and broken treaties robbed them of their ancestral home, the peaceful Nez Perce was driven to war. In 1877, Chief Joseph, his people and his 3000 horses began a flight to Canada. However, just below the Canadian border, Chief Joseph and his weary and suffering tribe were forced to surrender to the U.S. Cavalry.
But Chief White Bird refused and was successful in slipping through enemy lines, reaching the Canadian border with many women, children and horses. The White Bird Appaloosa Horse Rescue was named to honor the indomitable spirit of this Nez Perce chief, who could be argued to be the first rescuer of Appaloosas.
Chief White Bird
Nez Perce Indians with Appaloosa horse, circa 1895
After the Nez Perce War, the Appaloosa breed nearly died out due to the U.S. Army’s attempt to abolish it through slaughter and by breeding the remaining stock with draft horses. But in 1938, a number of concerned proponents of the breed created the Appaloosa Horse Club in order to preserve these beautiful horses and to regain their earlier refinement through selective breeding. This process is continuing today and the Nez Perce tribe is a leader in this effort.
Appaloosas are most easily recognized by their spotted coats. These come in various patterns that are called blanket, roan, leopard and snowflake. The average Appaloosa horse stands between 14.2 and 15.3 hands, though some are taller. Horses of less than 14 hands are not eligible for registry. They have strong legs, striped hooves and white sclera that give their eyes a near human appearance.
While, in recent decades, Appaloosas have become strongly associated with the American west, their intelligence, easy temperament and strength make them suitable for many uses. The White Bird Appaloosa Horse Rescue is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming of these beautiful and versatile horses when circumstances place them at risk.
What We Do
Many horses are just unlucky. And these days it seems that there are more unlucky horses than ever. These horses have any of a number of problems that place them at-risk. They may have aging families, or families with medical issues that cannot physically care for them and can’t find a new home for them. They may have inexperienced families who were not ready for their behavioral or medical issues. Some horses have loving families that have fallen on hard times and have lost their homes or jobs. Others have owners who had to reprioritize. And sometimes the unluckiest are simply abandoned or neglected.
The White Bird Appaloosa Horse Rescue takes in these unlucky horses, addresses their physical, veterinary and behavioral needs, and then works to find them new homes with well-suited families. We specialize in Appaloosas, but we will take in horses of other breeds if we have the resources to help. We will accept only horses in urgent need, whose owners have no other options for rehoming them and cannot keep them. We do not accept horses that owners wish to surrender to us for other reasons, such as retirement, or in order to replace them with more advanced horses. We accept horses regardless of medical condition or adoptability if we believe we can help them achieve a good quality of life.
We believe there is a home for each and every one of these horses, if we have the time and resources to find it. But if we cannot adopt a horse into a new home, we provide sanctuary, so that each horse can live out the remainder of its life in safety and dignity.
The Human Team
President: Jorg Huckabee-Mayfield
Vice-President: Tom Mayfield
Secretary: Kathleen Bobbio
Treasurer: vacant, Tom Mayfield is currently Acting
Member-at-Large: Sam Womack