In the Native American culture, horse blankets are part of their history. Horse blankets were used for many different purposes. They were used from keeping children warm on a very cold day, to being used as cushions against horse saddles. Whether they were used as warming devices or cushions, many of the horse blankets reflected a rich heritage of the Indian people.
Before the use of horses by the Indians, they used horse blankets as a form of bartering. Exchanging these blankets to neighboring tribes or to the white men was very common. Not only did they use horse blankets as trade items, they often used the blankets in powwows, and other types of spiritual ceremonies. Once horses were introduced to the Indians by the Spanish, they began to use them as a cushion for the saddle or when riding the horses bare back, or even used as rugs. Horse blankets were mostly made out of wool. They were soft, and could be used for a variety of things, making them such a necessity to have.
Horse blankets took a lot of work to make, and the Native Americans had no problem putting in the time. They had to clean and spin the wool for the blankets; this took much time and energy. Organic dyes also were used for the blankets. The dyes were also handmade from various plants and vegetables to create a vast variety of colors. When all of the materials were together, the blankets were weaved incorporating the different patterns. It can be difficult to find authentic horse blankets today. If you do find one, it will be on sale for a high price. Horse blankets from the 1800’s and early 1900’s are rare because they were well used and wore out eventually. If you do get a hold of one, it will make a great keepsake item.
Joseph Paige © 2006