The Appaloosa


Bred by Nez Perce tribes
along the Palouse River, your
ancestors gave you most-pleasing traits.
You spotted horse, with the distinct
sclera, not two of you look quite
alike in markings of the skin—
Once, some lover of another breed
scoffed at the sight of you:
“This Indian horse is the only breed
the lamest warrior could catch with ease.”

He looked at you; you gazed
at him, and I saw mischief flicking
in your eye—one that is so humanlike.
And while we talked some more
about the price of good horseflesh,
he praised the Quarter Horse—
That’s when you raised one light-dark
striped hoof, as though by chance,
and stepped on his booted foot.
I laughed, “My friend, now go and try
to catch this slow Palouse.”

But you grew old, and when your time came,
no skinner took your dappled hide.
You rest beneath my desert pasture’s
scanty grass, far away from the green
Palouse River Valley, and I remember you
as a horse quite worthy of the beaded trapping
you proudly wore at your last parade.

© Jerry Kemp, 2013

About the Photo

Previously published in the Australia Times.  The trappings were made by Alvin Stacy, a full-blooded Winnebago Indian from Black Forest, Wisconsin.  It took 2 years in the making–finished in 1960.