In 1937, a young Idaho student, named Francis Haines, began vigorously researching the Nez Perce Indian tribe of the Pacific Northwest. As he began to delve deeper and deeper into his studies, he found that the mysterious Nez Perce horse had completely runaway with his thoughts. These horses simply would not leave his mind. What had happened to them? Were there any left?
Chief Joseph, or as he was commonly known by his people, "Thunder Rolling in the Mountains", had bred some fine horse stock. he bred the best to the best while gelding the ones that were not fit for breeding. These horses that were noted for their spotted coats, mottled skin, and thin hair, were called the Palouse horse or "a" Palouse horse after a nearby river. They were prized horses, especially of the Nez Perce people. If one had horses, he had wealth. These horses were prized for their natural camouflage. While other nearby tribes painted their horses to give them camouflage, the Nez Perce did not. The horses were also prized for their stamina making them notable buffalo hunting mounts. They were swift and surefooted.
With the threat of losing their land over gold and settlement, the Nez Perce war broke out in the 1877. After the treaty in 1863, the Nez Perce people broke into the following two groups: those who supported the treaty and the "non-treaty" those who did not. Many chiefs did not sign the treaty. The treaty would have reduced their reservation land by 90%. During this time the non-treaty Nez Perce had to flee from their land. Some 3000 horses were with the Nez Perce the day they fled. Many of the other horses had to be left behind. The Nez Perce people eluded the US cavalry for 3 1/2 months and over 1300 miles. They were only 45 miles from the Canadian border when the cavalry caught up to them. They were then sent to South Dakota and their priceless horses were taken away. These horses are the ones that ran away with the young student's thoughts from Idaho and were nearly lost forever until they captured him. These horses today are known as the Appaloosa horse.