COBWEB CORNERS: Wild horses roamed here
By Mel McFarland
Last week I mentioned people without horses in the early days of Colorado City. Now try to imagine horses without people. It is hard to conceive, but 200 years ago we had herds of wild horses roaming right here.
The Spanish brought horses to America more than 300 years ago. Some of them got loose and spread all over the West. The Indians had a life-changing experience when they got hold of horses. Not all of the wild horses were caught, and there are still isolated herds of the horses in Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico. When the first settlers arrived in Colorado, wild herds were in this area. Fountain Creek as well as the other streams in the area provided water for them. There were so many that the first Army detachment in residence in the Pike's Peak Region was here to obtain horses for the cavalry.
Wild horses are more elusive than other wild animals. Early settlers had little trouble finding buffalo, deer elk and antelope, but horses were another story. It took quite a bit of skill to round up a horse or two, and a whole herd was not casually taken. If one or two were taken from a herd, the others became more excited. On the plains you could not exactly corner them the way you could in the mountains. It took an experienced cowboy to know that horses did not react like cows. The most common practice was to make them travel in a large circle until they gradually got tired, hungry or thirsty, hopefully near a pond or a stream where they could settle down. Stories are told of moving horses, manes and tails sweeping along as they raced across the high plains. It could take days to round up a few horses. Teams of cowboys might round up 20 or more in a week. The herds were then driven to any of the stations along the railroad. At those spots they could be easily transported to camps where the Army tamed and trained the animals.
The thing is, most average residents did not have a horse unless they really needed one. In town, it was too expensive to keep a horse just to ride on weekends. If one was needed, it could be rented from a livery stable for a day or more.