How America Was Built on the Back of a Horse

The story of America is the tale of a people always on the move.  It is also the story of the continual search to find new and better ways to transport people and goods as dependably and as fast as possible. The story of America begins with the horse. 

Horses have been companions to humans long before written history. In the late 15th and early 16th centuries, the Spanish reintroduced horses to America.  Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés transported the first horses to the North American mainland in 1519.  In the following years, other explorers and conquistadores brought countless other horses with them to America. 

The conquistadores came to the New World in search of vast riches reportedly possessed by its natives, who had lived there for thousands of years. They never found the cities of gold and jewels that they sought.  When they left the New World, their horses – which had multiplied – remained.

In the Southwest and on the Great Plains, these horses would change the Native Americans’ life in ways they never imagined.  Before they had horses, most sustained themselves by farming, fishing, hunting on foot or gathering seeds.  The horse changed that by making it possible for the Native Americans to pursue the buffalo.


The Spanish brought horses to the New World to aid them in their search for riches.  During the 1600s and 1700s, colonists from such nations as England, France, Holland and Sweden arrived with thousands more horses. 

As soon as the War of Independence was over a new nation called the United States of America was born.

Learn about transportation.