In the old west there were several methods of taming horses, I’m sure most folks had their own way of doing it. But did you ever hear that there was a method used where indian blankets tamed horses? There sure was! It was called the Indian Blanket Act.

Cowboys preferred a horse that had been “Injun Gentled” because the horse usually came from a strong stock and was easily managed. Now sometimes the Native American who had tamed the horse used a method of gently getting to know the horse over several days. That’s where the “gentled” term comes from. It would seem that with patience the Native broke down the natural fear that a wild horse would have over encountering this two-legged being that didn’t smell like horse. Depending on the horse, this method might take a long time to finally get the desired end result of being able to ride the no longer wild horse.

Native American blanket , lasso , and spurs Postcards

Native American Blanket

Native American blanket , lasso , and spurs Postcards by prophoto at Zazzle.

Another method often used was for the Native American to use an Indian Blanket. This method became known as the Indian Blanket Act. From what I can tell, this method took less time. A matter of an hour or two and the horse had lost its fear. Some would say that the Native hypnotized the horse with the blanket but I think there was more to it than that. It seems that the practice was to get the wild horse in a corral. Now you know that horse is tense and scared and looking for a way to get out. The Native would get into the corral with the horse, keeping his distance. He would alternate from standing perfectly still and using slight movement to keep the horse’s attention. The aim was not to spook the horse but to get him or her calmed down. I don’t think the blanket was a way to hypnotize the horse but it gave a slight movement from any wind that was blowing. After a while the horse sees that this two-legged is no threat and a trust starts to form. The spirit of the horse wasn’t broken by being roped and bullied but gentled because the fear was taken away.

Sometimes the cowboys of the old west referred to the taming of a horse with the indian blanket act as having been “Indian signed”. That’s because many of the blankets back then told a story through the designs used. Most often there was a history unfolding in the story which became known as the Indian Sign.

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