Linda Price

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




This thesis traces the development and influence of the horse in the Upper Northern Plains between 1800 and 1970, The horse became one of the many instruments used to open this region.

The story of the horse in the Upper Midwest of the United States began with the Indian, When the horse reached this region after 1750, he became a definite influence on the Indian culture. Once the Indian domesticated the horse he shifted his economic emphasis from gathering and gardening to the nomadic pursuit of the buffalo. The Indian and the horse formed a perfect unit in both the hunt and in war. Because the white man had to defend himself and live off the land like the Indian, he too employed the horse when he ventured into the prairie region. Fur traders and buffalo hunters roamed the Upper Midwest on horseback searching for their own wealth. Later, when conflict developed betv/een the Indian and the white invaders, the United States Cavalry also used the horse to patrol and campaign in this region.

The main role of the horse in the Upper Northern Plains was in agriculture. Bound to a plow, the horse made possible the origin of large-scale, mechanized farming. With later improvements in farm technology, the horse was eventually relegated to pleasure riding and horse racing. This role continues, for every weekend horse shows are a part of the regional scene.

From the common Indian pony to today's show horse, this animal has been a vital, colorful part of regional history.