This reconstruc­tion is of the Chickasaw-bred stallion Hiatoga, founder of the earliest strain that contribute­d to formation of the American Saddlebred. The Chickasaws were knowledgea­ble horse breeders and their produce was a cross of ambler-galloper Thoroughbr­ed (obtained from the English colonists) and Spanish mustang (obtained from tribesmen who brought them east across the Mississipp­i River from Texas). Horses of very similar appearance are still bred in Oklahoma, the home of the Choctaw-Chickasaw nations after forced removals between 1830 and 1850 (the “Trail of Tears”). This reconstruc­tion could also represent one of the Saddlebred root pedigree “mystery horses,” Ammerman’s Irish Roan—“medicine hat” or “frame overo” coloration might have been what 19th century Southerner­s meant by using the term “Irish.” My painting is based on a photograph of a Choctaw-Chickasaw stallion from the Brislawn herd.

This retrospect­ive done by lithograph­er John Hanson depicts Andrew Jackson as he might have looked while reviewing his troops in 1814. Nineteenth-century artists often portrayed “Indian ponies” as having a lot of Oriental characteri­stics, and Jackson’s mount may indeed have had some Arabian blood. However, the stallion also bears minimal Paint coloration, making it likely that he was of Chickasaw extraction.

Explorer and artist George Catlin toured all over the North and South American continents during the mid19th century and knew tribal horses well. Catlin’s 1835 painting of the famous Sauk chief Keokuk shows him aboard a magnificen­t black stallion. The horse’s conformati­on is not pure Spanish, nor was it a particular­ly small animal; Keokuk stood five foot eleven inches, so it is safe to conclude that the horse he bestrides is not less than 15 hands high. This makes it likely that Keokuk got him by trade from allied Sauk tribes living farther south, who in turn acquired the horse from the Chickasaws.

First Nations people enjoyed horse racing, and wagered on their favorites just as fiercely as did White settlers. This George Catlin painting, done about 1847, shows a race meet of the Mandan tribe. The course is not straight and it is not short; rather it echoes the sort of crosscount­ry contests traditiona­lly carried out in Asia by the very tribes whose Turkmene horses had helped found the Thoroughbr­ed more than four centuries earlier. It is a safe bet, therefore, that the winners in the Mandan races were horses whose dams were Spanish Mustangs but whose sires were English Thoroughbr­eds. The Mandans traded extensivel­y with the Choctaws and Chickasaws.

 ?? ?? A modern Choctaw-Chickasaw stallion named Ta Sunka Witco, which means “Crazy Horse.”
A modern Choctaw-Chickasaw stallion named Ta Sunka Witco, which means “Crazy Horse.”
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