Believed to have been introduced to North America by the Spanish, the Appaloosa was largely used by the Nez Perce throughout Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. The tribe is known to be the first to develop a breeding program that focused on strength, endurance, and temperament, eventually emphasizing the breed’s unique coloring, as well. Often encountered in the Palouse River Valley, the horse was first known as “a Palousie,” which over time became the Appaloosa. It is this breed that carried 800 Nez Perce on their nearly 1,200-mile search for political asylum in 1877.
Now the state horse of Idaho, the Nez Perce herds were captured, sold, or killed, and a law was passed banning the breeding of Appaloosas until 1935. Just three years later, in 1938, the Appaloosa Horse Club was founded in Moscow, Idaho, where it is still headquartered today.