THE HORSES THE INDIANS RODE by Sigmund A. Lavine

THE HORSES THE INDIANS RODE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is less about the horses themselves -- though Lavine does go into the ""maze of crossbreeding"" that produced the mustang -- as it is about how the Indians acquired, trained, bred, and used them from the animal's first modern appearance in the new world (a prehistoric strain had died out here) to the extinction of the buffalo herds. Though originally both the Spanish in South America and the English in the Northeast had laws forbidding Indians to ride, the native American -- especially on the Great Plains where the horse became the recognized medium of exchange and created an economy based on buffalo -- soon captured, stole and traded enough feral and domestic horses to inaugurate what anthropologists label the ""Horse Culture Period."" Quoting from white observers' reports, Lavine describes aspects of the culture and relates such anecdotes as the Comanches' refusal to attend the Great Council of 1851 despite the U.S. government's ""promise of many gifts"" on the grounds of having ""too many good horses to risk them among such thieves as the Sioux and Crow."" Lavine's lackluster presentation along with the low budget page layout and unimaginative photo arrangement (several small scale black and white reproductions from Catlin mix with less relevant fillers including a photo of Secretariat) make this less interesting than the subject suggests, but this will do as a sort of quick tourist's trot through the horse culture museum.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Dodd, Mead