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The Editor’s Essay Review The vast contemporary literature about the horse and the horseman in the American West has very ancient antecedents, and actually much of it has striking similarities to some of the most primitive portrayals of the horse in art and literature. One good example of this ancient veneration of the horse is found in the Book of Job wherein the Voice out of the whirlwind (supposedly God himself!) tauntingly challenges Job: Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his nostrils is terrible. He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth is his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men. He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword. The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield. He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it the sound of the trumpet. He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha! and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting. Almost identical to this in its tone of admiration for the majesty and courage of the horse are the numerous relatively recent Kiowa legends (re­ counted by N. Scott Momaday in The Way to Rainy Mountain, University of New Mexico Press, 1969) such as: Once there was a man who owned a fine hunting horse. It was black and fast and afraid of nothing. When it was turned upon an enemy it charged in a straight line and struck at full speed; the man need have no hand upon the rein. But, you know, that man knew fear. Once during a charge he turned the animal from its course. That was a bad thing. The hunting horse died of shame. And Laverne Harrell Clark has shown in her They Sang for Horses, how the horse in just a few hundred years has achieved a central place in the religious ceremonialism of the Navajo and Apache Indians. The first horses seen in the New World by Indians were brought by Columbus on his second voyage— 8500 years after the horse had been extinct here. They and those broughtby Cortez and the other conquistadores aston­ ished the natives, who thought them gods or man eaters. Thus in 1539when Coronado brought the horse into what is now Southwestern United States, he had in the horse the most important secret weapon for the conquest of the West. The exploration, conquest, and settlement of the West would have been impossible without the horse; and the men who came to ride the horse in hunting and war (Indian and white alike) have been transformed in their own eyes as well as others into commanding and romantic figures. My own reading in this area dates from J. French Dobie’s early articles on the mustangs and ranch life in Texas some forty years ago and has included 220 Western American Literature Haines, Hutchinson, Frantz and Choate, Durham and Jones, the Fifes, and more recently, with fresh delight, McMurtry and Ben Green, to name just a few. I must mention also one of the most notable books I have come upon: Edward Larocque Tinker’s, The Horsemen of the Americas and the Literature They Inspired (1953), a new and enlarged nicely illustrated edition of which was issued by the University of Texas Press in 1967. My Dobie Collection. By Jeff Dykes. (College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University, Press, 1971. vii + 43 Pages, illus; trade edition, $7.50; also issued in a limited edition of 300 copies @ $25.00.) This book is the result of over forty years of devoted collecting of the works of J. Frank Dobie. It consists of 249 richly annotated items and a per­ sonal essay describing the search and the long friendship with Dobie and his wife, Miss Bertha, as she is affectionately known to her friends. The collection described in this volume has recently been housed in the Texas A&M Library where it is available to scholars. The volume is at­ tractively produced and features an illustration of Dobie’s paisano bookplate. Horses in America. By Francis Haines...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 219-223
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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