The Chickasaw Horse
Photo reprint from the Chickasaw Times July-August-September 1977 issue
The Chickasaw Horse: Grandfather to Quarterhorse
By Holmes Willis Lemon
On the Chickasaws first encounter with the horse, some accounts claim that the tribe captured some of De Soto's horses. Later, English traders introduced the horse to the tribe in trading pack trains. The tribe began to acquire, breed and develop the horse which was to play such an important part in the life and activities of the tribe during the next two centuries.
The tribes searched, raided and traded for horses. During the war with the French in the early 1700s, they traded French war captives for horses at the rate of one captive for one horse. A description of the Chickasaw Horse of that period is as follows: Small, about 13 hands, close coupled, well developed muscular structure.
The horse had a very short neck, and some even had to spread their front legs to graze as some wild horses and zebras do. As a short distance runner, he could not be beaten.
The horse was very gentle in disposition and was used by the tribe for many purposes: packing, transportation, hunting and working fields. They were the best utility horse of their time.
During the middle 1700s and following the American Revolution, the Chickasaw Horse became very popular with the planters and others in the Colonies. At fairs and races held throughout the South, the horses were raced over a distance of 1/4 mile. In 1792, the Knoxville Gazette was advertising the service of a Chickasaw Stud, "Piomingo," a horse named after a much beloved chief of the tribe.
When the removal of the tribe to the Indian Territory began, the Chickasaws had large horse herds which they would not sell. The ratio of horses to tribal members during the removal was approximately 3 to 1.
The book Outstanding Modern Quarter Horse Sires by Frye lists the Chickasaw Horse as the true beginning of the Quarter Horse. In the late 1800s, the Chickasaw breed began to die out due to cross breeding with European and Arabian stock, and the Quarter Horse of today took its place. There still remain some true Chickasaw Horses on the islands of the Outer Banks, off Virginia, North and South Carolina.
In 1957, J.A. (Andy) Barker conceived the idea of bringing the Chickasaw Horse back into prominence. He organized the Chickasaw Horse Association at Love Valley, Statesville, North Carolina. Barker sent to Canada and imported a young stud from horses belonging to the Blood Indian Tribe.
The horse was cross bred with some of the small Chickasaw Horses from the islands off the Atlantic Coast. The National Chickasaw Horse Association is presently located at Clarinda, Iowa, and members of this group are registering and developing a type of horse which closely conforms to the size, colorations and characteristics of the original Chickasaw Horse which made such a valuable contribution to Chickasaw and American History.
Exerpt from an article printed from The Chickasaw Times April-May-June, 1977 issue.