Northwest Profiles: Appy-Palooza (Horse Museum)
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Northwest Profiles: Appy-Palooza (Horse Museum)

August 14, 2019


(Julie Thorson)This
museum is unique. It’s the only one of its kind
not just in the United States, not just in North America, but
the only one of its kind in the world.>>If you love horses, especially
Appaloosas, then the Appaloosa Museum in Moscow, Idaho is a
place you should definitely stop and see. Nestled in the heart of the
Palouse, this is where the spotlight shines on the history
and heritage of the sensational spotted horse. (Thorson) The Appaloosa is a
distinctively American breed and it has a long history with
America; it’s tied to the history of Lewis and Clark,
the exploration of the West, the Indian wars, many things of that
nature, and this museum holds that story. It is a collection of artifacts
from Native Americans, area settlers, areas throughout
the general Northwest where the breed was known. All kinds of things that would
be connected to that horse.>>It just makes “horse sense”
that the idea for the Appaloosa museum came from right next door
at the Appaloosa Horse Club. Founded in 1938, it is the
international breed registry for the Appaloosa. And it shares the
museum’s mission. (Thorson) The mission of the
Appaloosa Museum is to preserve the history of the breed and its
connection to a specific area of the Northwest and to honor
the prominent horses and people within the breed and to share
the story of what the Appaloosa has been in the past
and what it is today.>>The Appaloosa Museum was
established as a non-profit organization in 1975. It is designed to be a
self-guided exploration into the world of the amazing Appaloosa
and its powerful connection to the Palouse and its people. (Thorson) The Appaloosa happens
to be the State horse of Idaho, but its had a long history
in Idaho long before that. It has an association with
the Nez Perce native people who raised Appaloosas among
their many horse herds. They were some of the greatest
horsemen of the Native Americans in their era.>>Unlike other tribes, the
Nez Perce were the only Native Americans known to selectively
breed their horses, using only the best animals to
build their herds. The Nez Perce Indians helped
make the Appaloosa a truly distinctive breed. (Thorson) When visitors come to
the Appaloosa Museum some of the things that they will see
include the wing that is dedicated to Nez Perce and
Native American history with some artifacts that include
everything from a war bonnet to a Nez Perce saddle; they will find a section
that’s devoted to the breeds connection with the
U.S. Cavalry to Palouse homesteaders to
work on the circus and to entertainment venues; there’s a
children’s wing and there’s also a gift shop.>>The Museum is open year
round and admission is free. It welcomes all visitors and has
free educational programs for school and youth groups. Kids of all ages are sure to
marvel at the vast collection of Appaloosa artifacts that are
as unique as the horse itself. (Thorson) Appaloosas are
distinctive; there are no two that are alike. And so they appeal to people
who like to be individualistic themselves and have a horse that
is a vehicle of self-expression. They’re known for their stamina,
their endurance, athletic ability, and for their
affinity for people. The most distinctive feature of
Appaloosas is the speckled or spotted coat. And it can be anything from
white with spots all over the entire body to a patch of white
over the rump with halo-shaped or peacock-shaped spots in it
to just a little smattering of speckles all over the body. And some Appaloosas
have no coloration at all. They also have vertical stripes
on their feet, alternating between black and white. Then they also have white around
their eye called sclera like a human does. And it gives them tremendous
expression that other horses just don’t have. The origin of the name Appaloosa
is interesting and it’s also actually tied to
the Palouse country. When settlers first saw people
riding a distinctively spotted horse they would ask,
“what kind of horse is that?” because they weren’t seen in
other parts of the country and they would be told it
was a “Palouse” horse. It came from the Palouse. And then that was stretched out
to Appalouse, to Appaloosy, to Appaloosa.>>While the museum is serious
about sharing the Appaloosa story, it also knows how
to “horse around” with family-friendly equine
events like Appyfest. (Thorson) Appyfest is one of the
annual events that’s put on by the Appaloosa Museum and it
is designed to introduce the Appaloosa horse to young
families in the Palouse area. And so we generate
youth-oriented activities: the kids get to sit on a Appaloosa
horse and ride it around, they get to practice roping skills
with the roping dummy, there are activities that children can
do where they can sit in an actually western saddle and do
coloring pages and they can play with Appaloosa toys.>>Today, the Appaloosa horse is
one of the most popular breeds in the United States. Distinctive and dynamic, it has
a magnetic mystique that goes back generations. And a field trip to the
Appaloosa Museum and Heritage Center is the
perfect “spot” to see why. (Thorson) What I enjoy most
about the Appaloosa Museum is coming here and losing myself
in the artifacts and the stories that are behind them. I think if you enjoy any kind of
history at all and you like to go to museums this is a fine one
to come to because it’s not just about horses, it’s about the
people associated with the horses and what the horse did
for those people over the course of its history. There’s just something about
humans and horses and Appaloosas in particular that
makes a strong affinity.

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