Wild Horses Wyoming by Ken Driese

Columbus and horses ‘more valuable than gold itself’

Wild Horses Wyoming by Ken Driese
The American Mustang: Descendants of the horses brought over during Christoper Columbus’ second voyage to America, declared to be “more valuable than gold itself.”

Here is some interesting reading about horses and their influence in colonizing America and blessing us with the horses we know and love today.

Happy Columbus Day!

The Spanish Horse Magazine

Columbus Brings Horses to America

A symbol of prestige, a fighting weapon, irreplaceable work utensil and mode of transport, the Spanish horse covered the Route of the Discovery at about the same time as Christopher Columbus marked it out. More valuable than gold itself, our horse was the object of contraband and speculation.

This is what Justo del Río wrote in his work extracted from his thesis “Beginnings of agriculture and stock farming in the New World”.

Statue of Christopher Columbus. Photo Credit: Wikimedia
Statue of Christopher Columbus. Photo Credit: Wikimedia

The first horses to arrive in America were transported by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage. Before he left on the 25th September 1493, the Catholic King wrote to his secretary, Fernando de Zafra to ask him to choose twenty fighting horses along with five “dobladuras” mares from the members of the “Santa Hermandad” which was in Granada. It was customary among the men of arms to ride a non-castrated horse, meanwhile by “dobladura” we understand a second horse in case the first one goes down.

Now, these were not the only horses which left Andalucia 1493; among the 1,500 people on board, some took their own animals. Andrés Bernáldez, who had a very close relationship with the admiral, took a total of 24 horses and 10 mares. That is to say, nine of these were brought by some of the most important figures accompanying the Discovery. Continue reading >>


Breeding of the Thoroughbred Racehorse

Union Rags. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images.
Thoroughbred Racehorse Union Rags. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images.

As the religion of Islam spread as far as Spain, the Arabs decided to cross some of their Arabian horses to the lesser quality Spanish horses, and they produced a fantastic light horse called the “jennet.” It was these “jennets” that Christopher Columbus packed on his ships to conquer the New World (America).

The Native Americans, or Red Indians, had never seen horses before, so they believed that Christopher Columbus and his Conquistadors were Gods.

As a result, many were converted to Christianity. Those who did not submit were easily killed by their mounted opponents. However, it was not long before Native Americans caught some of the horses, either those captured in battle or those that swam ashore from some of the ships that had been wrecked and formed wild herds. And in catching them, they tamed and trained them in a fashion very similar to the way that the Bedouins had handled these horses’ forefathers for centuries before.

From these pure horses of the desert came three special horses that have had the greatest impact on the racehorse: The Byreley Turk, the Darley Arabian, and the Godolphin Arabian. All three sired great horses and all modern thoroughbreds are descended from them. Continue reading >>


America’s Wild Horses

Wild Horses. Google image.
Wild Horses. Google image.

The American Mustang (Equus ferus caballus) is a descendant of escaped, stolen, or released Spanish horses first brought to the Americas by Columbus. The word Mustang comes from the Spanish-Mexican word mestengo or “strayed livestock animal”.

Native Americans, notably the Nez Perce, Shoshone, and Comanche, took readily to horses and used them primarily for transportation. As wild horse numbers diminished drastically during the 1900s, Congress passed the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971, protecting the established herds of the American west.

Although an introduced species, horses existed in the Americas until about 10,000-12,000 years ago until they died off either due to the changing climate or hunting by the newly arriving humans. Regardless of their origins, they are now an icon of the American west, loved and revered by people worldwide as a symbol of what is wild and free. Continue reading >>

3 thoughts on “Columbus and horses ‘more valuable than gold itself’”

  1. “Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.” This why I continue to pray and donate my effects to the horse. They have courage and don’t want to leave. We should never stop calling and sharing our message and daily support.

    Stand up and phone President Obama and Governor Rommey we can and will not forget…never….


  2. You are right Chris. From documentaries I have watched horses were here before we were. One of the first words in the earliest language recorded that archeologists have discovered is horse. Without the horse we would not have all we see today.


  3. We need to make a concerted effort to declare that there is no proof that equines died out on the land mass where they arose and evolved. They never lived in great masses but in small herds. If equines continued from here to Mongolia and lived on during and after the Ice Age, then why wouldn’t equines stay alive in North America. Only people who want to designate equines as livestock and not native wildlife blast away any consideration for mitochondrial DNA investigations of wild horse bone findings because of their own biases and agendas. Equines should be named our National Mammals, because they arose and evolved on the North American landmass about 55 million years ago.


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