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On the Neosho River, in what is now Oklahoma, De Soto rested to fatten his horses. By spring of 1542 he had left only 40 horses, some of which were lame as they had gone unshod a whole year. Men and horses were dying fast as he followed down the Arkansas River to reach its mouth in April 1542. When De Soto died, May 21, Moscoso, who took command, built brigantines for the trip down the Mississippi. At this time those horses, no longer fit for mounts or transport, were slaughtered for food so that only 22 horses were still alive to be put aboard the boats. [Bolton, pp. 64, 69, 72, 76.] Of this number all but 4 or 5 were butchered, later, on the voyage down the Mississippi. The 4 or 5 were freed on the west bank of the river. What became of them may be left to the imagination of the reader; but this incident emphasizes an interesting point: The Indians, who had been following and harassing the Spaniards, seeing these horses running and neighing, took fright and plunged into the river [Edward G. Bourne, Narrative of the Career of Hernando De Soto. Vol. I, pp. 200, 201] thus showing that there were no horses in that locality as early as the year 1543. [De Soto found that the Indians on the west bank of the Mississippi had no horses in 1541. (Ibid., p. 135]. According to Francis Haines none of these Indians had horses before 1630. (American Anthropologist, Vol. 40, No. 1, p. 117.)] To infer that these 4 or 5 horses left progeny we must presuppose that they survived and that there was one stallion and one mare among them. It was not customary to take mares on exploratory expeditions such as De Soto's. [Francis Haines (American Anthropologist, Vol. 40, No. 3) p. 429.]
One of De Soto's soldiers, Francisco de Gutzman, who had taken unto himself an Indian wife, deserted the expedition in Arkansas in July 1542 with this woman. It has been suggested that Gutzman took some horses with him, but, Bourne, whose detailed account of De Soto's expedition is based chiefly on the diary of De Soto's secretary, Roderigo Ranjel, an eye witness, does not mention that Gutzman deserted with horses. [Bourne, op. cit.. p. 168.]
As to the historical accuracy of the statement that La Salle introduced horses to America on any of his expeditions, it does not appear that any of the records usually referred to substantiate this oft repeated legend. On his four journeys (1670-78-80-81) to the Mississippi Valley from Canada, traveling principally on foot and by canoe, horses certainly were not a part of his equipment; on his one attempt (1684-85) to reach the Mississippi by sea, although touching at San Domingo, where "all kinds of domestic animals to stock the new country" [Father Le Clercq, La Salle's Attempt to Reach the Mississippi by Sea. (Ed. by Cod, New York, 1905.) p. 211.] were taken aboard, no mention is made by any of the several chroniclers of this expedition about landing any horses; and while no mention is made of the actual landing of any domestic animals, mention is made of other domestic animals before and after they had been landed in Texas, where unexpectedly the first settlement occurred.
Shortly after this temporary settlement was decided on, La Salle needed wood for a stockade and for other uses. Of this incident one of his companions says, "There was a little wood where a good quantity might be had, but it was a league up the country and we had neither carts nor horses to carry it." [Joutel's Journal of La Salle's Last Voyage. (Reprint of English Edition. 1714 Chicago, 1896), p. 52.]
In fact, no record is made of the employment of horses by this expedition until La Salle returned to the temporary settlement from his second excursion (1686) with five horses which he had purchased from the Indians. These horses were used as pack animals on the third excursion (1687). [Ibid., p. 74. ]
Thereafter the records show that horses were employed repeatedly in the wanderings of the various parties in their attempts to find the Mississippi and Canada, for horses were readily procured from the Indians by barter, and La Salle knew from his extensive experience with the Indian life of the Mississippi valley that excellent horses were plentiful. His chroniclers frequently refer to the horses that the numerous Indian tribes were using. Some references are particularly interesting for our purpose.
It seems that La Salle fell in with a tribe, allies of the Cenis, from whom he tried to obtain horses. One Indian related how his Chief had been among the Choumans with the Spaniards; that the Choumans were friends of the Spaniards from whom they got horses. On another day three men were encountered on horseback, one clad like a Spaniard, two others naked, one of them mounted on a "fine grey mare." [Ibid., pp. 92, 104-5 and 116.] For an axe, a very fine stallion was purchased, worth in France 20 pistols ($72-$100). [Ibid., pp. 92, 104-5 and 116.] In as much as good horses were procurable and the difficulty of sea transport enormous, there is every reason, aside from Joutel's definite statement, to conclude that La Salle and the missionaries who accompanied him brought no horses from Europe or the West Indies or Canada.
"Andalusian Stock in America: the eventual prevalence of the cult of the English Thoroughbred in America for hunters and hacks, as well as for the turf, has obscured the tradition of the favor with which eighteenth century American horsemen regarded the pure-bred Andalusian stock." [Fairfax Harrison, Early American Turf Stock, Vol. I (Richmond, 1934), p. 25.]
The above quotation is from the late Fairfax Harrison who lists 7 mares from old Spain, 1740-1770, and says of them: "They contributed a significant strain of blood to the beginning of the American turf." He then lists, by name and description, 8 Andalusian horses drawn from Spain or by way of the West Indies at intervals down into the 19th century. [Ibid.]
Skinner's General Stud Book (Baltimore 1834) lists an Andalusian horse called Hormoso, Jay's, brought to New York State 1786; another Spanish horse called Hiatoga, W. Randolph's, brought to Virginia 1798; and still another called Spot, Hope's.
Bruce lists, by name and description, 7 Spanish horses and one Spanish mare imported to the United States. [Bruce's American Stud Book. Vol. I (New York, 1873), p. 151.] Some of this stock was imported during the early 19th century; and some of it is the same as listed by Harrison.
One example of a 19th century Spanish importation was the horse Sancho advertised in a Maryland paper as "an imported horse by an Arabian, out of an Andalusian mare, of fine bone and great action." [Political Examiner and Public Advertiser, Vol. VIII, No. 40, May 2, 1821. Published in Frederick, Maryland.]
Columbus on his second and third voyages (1493 and 1498) landed on Isla Espanola the first horses ever brought to the Western Hemisphere. Then followed those brought by Ovando, and the mares sent by Pinson (1507). [H. I. Priestley, The Coming of the White Man, p. 27.]
As may be gained from the text it is highly improbable that any of Ayllón's horses survived - at any rate on the mainland. In which case they could have left no progeny; therefore, the Chickasaw Indians could have had none to make use of later. Anyway, the true Chickasaw horse came from west of the Mississippi River. [John Adair, History of the American Indians. (London, 1775), pp. 195, 196, 352. Fairfax Harrison, The John's Island Stud 1750-1788 (1931), p. 170.]
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