Brooke USA Salutes Equine Heritage in The Americas

By re-distributing equine historian article written in 2019

In 2019, Lexington, KY equine historian Jo Ellen Hayden wrote an account of the cultural heritage and value of horses and other equines to early settlers of this country and their contributions ever since. Hayden, a life-long equestrian, is a United States Dressage Federation Bronze Medalist, an avid supporter of Brooke USA, a former volunteer with the United States Pony Club and served on the Board of Directors of the Potomac Valley Dressage Association.

Also in 2019, for Brooke USA and the U.S. World War 1 Centennial Commission, Hayden researched and authored a comprehensive website on the use of American horses and mules in World War 1. For more information on WW1, visit Hayden’s work has appeared in national print publications including Dressage Today.

Hayden’s full article ‘Equine and The Americas – A Legacy’ explains how our horse legacy comes from deep within the history of the USA, as people living here have depended on equines for the entire history of the country.

Below are excerpts from Hayden’s article:

  • “Horses were re-introduced by Spanish conquistadors in the early 1500s … It was then that they began their journey into the mythology of the New World, as the Native Americans viewed horse and rider and, having never seen such a thing before, assumed it to be one creature, perhaps even a god.”
  • “The settlers who left the New World to return to Europe certainly would not have transported their horses back with them, there being plenty of horses there and the ships’ cargo holds better filled with treasure or food for the voyage home … Thus, the American mustang got its start, as horses were abandoned and began to breed and increase their herds … Mustangs flourished and became part of the legends of the Americas.”
  • “As permanent settlements became established, the horse and its equine relatives the donkey and the mule were essential to colonial life … They carried people and goods, pulled vehicles, and provided power for farm implements and even for industry.”
  • “Mules pulled barges along the burgeoning canal network that linked many parts of the new nation in the decades right before the Civil War. The canal era was a short one, displaced by railroads, but mules continued to be used by the hundreds of thousands in the cotton plantations of the south up until the 1920s.”
  • “It was not long before uniquely American breeds were being developed. First among these was the Narragansett Pacer, the breed’s name coming from the Narragansett Bay area of Rhode Island. According to the International Museum of the Horse, George Washington owned a Narragansett pacer which he raced in 1768, and a Narragansett Pacer is reputed to have served as Paul Revere’s mount on his famous ride.”
  • “So many other horses, mules, and donkeys are part of American history – circus horses, children’s ponies, milk wagon horses, the Pony Express, racehorses such as Man O’ War and American Pharaoh, and the horses and mules of World War 1, serving the cavalry and the soldier in the mud of France.”

The full article can be found at and can be replicated at any time; just contact Brooke USA at Emily.Dulin@BrookeUSAorg.

Most recently, Brooke USA started a partnership with the Native American Horse Education Foundation (NAHEF) to provide farrier training and certification of Native Americans living on reservations where horses and other equines are essential to daily living. The first group of newly certified farriers are cowboys on the San Carlos Native American Apache Indian Reservation’s Ash Creek Livestock Association Ranch in Arizona. Horses on the reservation now boast newly installed horseshoes and are on a “check and change” schedule while their owners have the potential to dramatically increase their income by working off the ranch as farriers. “Based on the deeply entrenched horse culture across the USA, it became obvious to us that we needed to include Native American communities in our work priorities,” said Emily Dulin, CEO of Brooke USA.

About Brooke USA Foundation (Brooke USA): The mission of Brooke USA is to significantly improve the health, welfare and productivity of working horses, donkeys and mules and the people who depend on them for survival worldwide. We are committed to sustainable economic development by reducing poverty, increasing food security, ensuring access to water, providing a means to education, and raising basic standards of living through improved equine health and welfare. We accomplish this by raising funds and responsibly directing them to the areas of greatest need.

Brooke USA strives to alleviate the suffering and vulnerability of developing communities by funding and implementing programs that improve the quality of life and health of working equines and thereby positively impacting their economic sustainability, protecting the planet, ensuring gender equality, and guaranteeing life on land resilience. We want to see healthy, happy people and equines that work in partnership to achieve sustainable local economies.

For more information, contact:
Emily Dulin

Kendall Bierer