The Appaloosa is an American horse breed best known for its colorful spotted coat pattern. There is a wide range of body types within the breed, stemming from the influence of multiple breeds of horses throughout its history; each horse's color pattern is genetically the result of various spotting patterns overlaid on top of one of several recognized base coat colors. The color pattern of the Appaloosa is of interest to those who study equine coat color genetics, as it and several other physical characteristics are linked to the leopard complex mutation. Appaloosas are prone to congenital stationary night blindness. Artwork depicting prehistoric horses with leopard spotting exists in prehistoric cave paintings in Europe. Images of domesticated horses with leopard spotting patterns appeared in artwork from Ancient Greece and Han dynasty China through the early modern period. In North America, the Nez Perce people of what today is the United States Pacific Northwest developed the original American breed.
Settlers once referred to these spotted horses as the "Palouse horse" after the Palouse River, which ran through the heart of Nez Perce country. The name evolved into "Appaloosa"; the Nez Perce lost most of their horses after the Nez Perce War in 1877, the breed fell into decline for several decades. A small number of dedicated breeders preserved the Appaloosa as a distinct breed until the Appaloosa Horse Club was formed as the breed registry in 1938; the modern breed maintains bloodlines tracing to the foundation bloodstock of the registry. Today, the Appaloosa is one of the most popular breeds in the United States, it is best known as a stock horse used in a number of western riding disciplines, but is a versatile breed with representatives seen in many other types of equestrian activity. Appaloosas have been used in many movies. Appaloosa bloodlines have influenced other horse breeds, including the Pony of the Americas, the Nez Perce Horse, several gaited horse breeds; the Appaloosa is best known for its distinctive, leopard complex-spotted coat, preferred in the breed.
Spotting occurs in several overlay patterns on one of several recognized base coat colors. There are three other distinctive, "core" characteristics: mottled skin, striped hooves, eyes with a white sclera. Skin mottling is seen around the muzzle, eyes and genitalia. Striped hooves are a common trait, quite noticeable on Appaloosas, but not unique to the breed; the sclera is the part of the eye surrounding the iris. Because the occasional individual is born with little or no visible spotting pattern, the ApHC allows "regular" registration of horses with mottled skin plus at least one of the other core characteristics. Horses with two ApHC parents but no "identifiable Appaloosa characteristics" are registered as "non-characteristic," a limited special registration status. There is a wide range of body types in the Appaloosa, in part because the leopard complex characteristics are its primary identifying factors, because several different horse breeds influenced its development; the weight range varies from 950 to 1,250 pounds, heights from 14 to 16 hands.
However, the ApHC does not allow draft breeding. The original "old time" or "old type" Appaloosa was a narrow-bodied, rangy horse; the body style reflected a mix that started with the traditional Spanish horses common on the plains of America before 1700. 18th-century European bloodlines were added those of the "pied" horses popular in that period and shipped en masse to the Americas once the color had become unfashionable in Europe. These horses were similar to a tall, slim Thoroughbred-Andalusian type of horse popular in Bourbon-era Spain; the original Appaloosa tended to have a convex facial profile that resembled that of the warmblood-Jennet crosses first developed in the 16th century during the reign of Charles V. The old-type Appaloosa was modified by the addition of draft horse blood after the 1877 defeat of the Nez Perce, when U. S. Government policy forced the Indians to become farmers and provided them with draft horse mares to breed to existing stallions; the original Appaloosas had a sparse mane and tail, but, not a primary characteristic, as many early Appaloosas did have full manes and tails.
There is a possible genetic link between the leopard complex and sparse mane and tail growth, although the precise relationship is unknown. After the formation of the Appaloosa Horse Club in 1938, a more modern type of horse was developed after the addition of American Quarter Horse and Arabian bloodlines; the addition of Quarter Horse lines produced Appaloosas that performed better in sprint racing and in halter competition. Many cutting and reining horses resulted from old-type Appaloosas crossed on Arabian bloodlines via the Appaloosa foundation stallion Red Eagle. An infusion of Thoroughbred blood was added during the 1970s to produce horses more suited for racing. Many current breeders attempt to breed away from the sparse, "rat tail" trait, therefore modern Appaloosas have fuller manes and tails; the coat color of an Appaloosa is a combination of a base color with an overlaid spotting pattern. The base colors r
American Quarter Horse
The American Quarter Horse, or Quarter Horse, is an American breed of horse that excels at sprinting short distances. Its name came from its ability to outdistance other horse breeds in races of less; the American Quarter Horse is the most popular breed in the United States today, the American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed registry in the world, with 3 million living American Quarter Horses registered in 2014. The American Quarter Horse is well known both as a race horse and for its performance in rodeos, horse shows and as a working ranch horse; the compact body of the American Quarter Horse is well-suited to the intricate and speedy maneuvers required in reining, working cow horse, barrel racing, calf roping, other western riding events those involving live cattle. The American Quarter Horse is shown in English disciplines and many other equestrian activities.. In the 17th century, colonists on the eastern seaboard of what today is the United States began to cross imported English Thoroughbred horses with assorted "native" horses such as the Chickasaw horse, a breed developed by Native American people from horses descended from Spain, developed from Iberian and Barb stock brought to what is now the Southeastern United States by the Conquistadors.
One of the most famous of these early imports was Janus, a Thoroughbred, the grandson of the Godolphin Arabian. He was foaled in 1746, imported to colonial Virginia in 1756; the influence of Thoroughbreds like Janus contributed genes crucial to the development of the colonial "Quarter Horse". The breed is sometimes referred to as the "Famous American Quarter Running Horse"; the resulting horse was small and quick, was used as a work horse during the week and a race horse on the weekends. As flat racing became popular with the colonists, the Quarter Horse gained more popularity as a sprinter over courses that, by necessity, were shorter than the classic racecourses of England, were no more than a straight stretch of road or flat piece of open land; when matched against a Thoroughbred, local sprinters won. As the Thoroughbred breed became established in America, many colonial Quarter Horses were included in the original American stud books, starting a long association between the Thoroughbred breed and what would become known as the "Quarter Horse", named after the 1⁄4 mile race distance at which it excelled.
With some individuals being clocked at up to 55 mph. In the 19th century, pioneers heading West needed a willing horse. On the Great Plains, settlers encountered horses that descended from the Spanish stock Hernán Cortés and other Conquistadors had introduced into the viceroyalty of New Spain, which today includes the Southwestern United States and Mexico; these horses of the west included herds of feral animals known as Mustangs, as well as horses domesticated by Native Americans, including the Comanche and Nez Perce tribes. As the colonial Quarter Horse was crossed with these western horses, the pioneers found that the new crossbred had innate "cow sense", a natural instinct for working with cattle, making it popular with cattlemen on ranches. Early foundation sires of Quarter horse type included Steel Dust, foaled 1843; the main duty of the ranch horse in the American West was working cattle. After the invention of the automobile, horses were still irreplaceable for handling livestock on the range.
Thus, major Texas cattle ranches, such as the King Ranch, the 6666 Ranch, the Waggoner Ranch played a significant role in the development of the modern Quarter Horse. The skills needed by cowboys and their horses became the foundation of the rodeo, a contest which began with informal competition between cowboys and expanded to become a major competitive event throughout the west. To this day, the Quarter Horse dominates the sport both in speed events and in competition that emphasizes the handling of live cattle. However, sprint races were popular weekend entertainment and racing became a source of economic gain for breeders as well; as a result, more Thoroughbred blood was added back into the developing American Quarter Horse breed. The American Quarter Horse benefitted from the addition of Arabian and Standardbred bloodlines. In 1940, the American Quarter Horse Association was formed by a group of horsemen and ranchers from the southwestern United States dedicated to preserving the pedigrees of their ranch horses.
The horse honored with the first registration number, P-1, was Wimpy, a descendant of the King Ranch foundation sire Old Sorrel. Other sires alive at the founding of the AQHA were given the earliest registration numbers Joe Reed P-3, Chief P-5, Oklahoma Star P-6, Cowboy P-12, Waggoner's Rainy Day P-13; the Thoroughbred race horse Three Bars, alive in the early years of the AQHA, is recognized by the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame as one of the significant foundation sires for the Quarter Horse breed. Other significant Thoroughbred sires seen in early AQHA pedigrees include Rocket Bar, Top Deck and Depth Charge. Since the American Quarter Horse formally established itself as a breed, the AQHA stud book has remained open to additional Thoroughbred blood via a performance standard. An "Appendix" American Quarter Horse is a first generation cross between a registered Thoroughbred and an
The Jockey Club is the largest commercial horse racing organisation in the United Kingdom. No longer responsible for the governance and regulation of British horseracing, today it owns 15 of Britain's famous racecourses, including Aintree, Epsom Downs and both the Rowley Mile and July Course in Newmarket, amongst other concerns such as the National Stud, the property and land management company, Jockey Club Estates; the registered charity Racing Welfare is a company limited by guarantee with the Jockey Club being the sole member. As it is governed by Royal Charter, all profits it makes are reinvested back into the sport; the regulator for the sport, the Jockey Club's responsibilities were transferred to the Horseracing Regulatory Authority in 2006. The Jockey Club has long been thought to have been founded in 1750 – a year recognised by the club itself in its own records; some claim it was created earlier, in the 1720s, while others suggest it may have existed in the first decade of the century.
It was founded as one of the most exclusive high society social clubs in the United Kingdom, sharing some of the functions of a gentleman's club such as high-level socialising. It was called'The Jockey Club' in reference to the late medieval word for'horsemen', pronounced'yachey', spelt'Eachaidhe' in Gaelic; the club's first meetings were held at the "Star and Garter" tavern in Pall Mall, before moving to Newmarket. It was the dominant organisation in British horseracing, it remained responsible for its day-to-day regulation until April 2006, it passed its first resolution in 1758. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, The Jockey Club had a clubhouse in Pall Mall, where many other gentlemen's clubs were based; the fact that it acquired a governing role in the sport reflected the dominant role of the aristocracy in British horse racing up to the 20th century, the removal of this role was in part a conscious effect to move the sport away from its patrician image. This can be compared with the way that cricket's Marylebone Cricket Club became the governing body of cricket by default, but surrendered most of its powers to more representative bodies.
Before 2006, it was one of the three bodies which provided management for horse racing in the United Kingdom in conjunction with the British Horseracing Board and the Horserace Betting Levy Board. These regulatory responsibilities were transferred to a new Horseracing Regulatory Authority from 3 April 2006, it should be pointed out that this major re-organisation did not arise from a fundamental failure of the existing arrangements, but an understanding that the old system might not meet modern conditions. The HRA itself ceased to exist on 31 July 2007 as its regulatory duties were merged with the governing responsibility of the British Horseracing Board to create the new British Horseracing Authority; the Jockey Club is run by executives. The chairman of the board is called the Senior Steward; as of December 2017 there were seven Stewards, including the Senior Steward and Deputy Senior Steward. Individuals may be elected as Members, who "are in effect'trustees'. However, they may not profit from their role, as all profits are invested into British racing."
As of December 2017 there were 162 Members, including 24 Honorary Members. Jockey Club Racecourses: operates 15 racecourses in Great Britain, which host a quarter of the racing calendar; this includes four of the five'Classics' of Flat racing: The Oaks and The Derby at Epsom Downs and the 2,000 Guineas and the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket's Rowley Mile course, major National Hunt meetings include the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National at Aintree Jockey Club Estates: property and land management company, which operates 3,000 acres of training facilities in Newmarket and Lambourn The National Stud: a breeding and bloodstock training operation transferred to the Jockey Club in 2008 Racing Welfare: a racing charity that aims to help to those working in the Thoroughbred industry Racing Calendar, publication Jockey Club Racecourses was called Racecourse Holdings Trust. The fifteen racecourses owned by Jockey Club Racecourses are: Large courses: Aintree – Merseyside Cheltenham – Gloucestershire Epsom – Surrey Haydock Park – Merseyside Kempton Park – Surrey Newmarket July Course – Cambridgeshire Newmarket Rowley Mile – Suffolk Sandown Park – SurreySmaller courses: Carlisle – Cumbria Exeter – Devon Huntingdon – Cambridgeshire Market Rasen – Lincolnshire Nottingham – Nottinghamshire Warwick – Warwick Wincanton – Somerset Official site
The Lusitano known as the Pure Blood Lusitano or PSL, is a Portuguese horse breed related to the Spanish Andalusian horse. Both are sometimes called Iberian horses, as the breeds both developed on the Iberian peninsula, until the 1960s they were considered one breed, under the Andalusian name. Horses were known to be present on the Iberian Peninsula as far back as 20,000 BC, by 800 BC the region was renowned for its war horses; the fame of the horses from Lusitania goes back to the Roman Age, which attributed its speed to the influence of the West wind, considered capable of fertilizing the mares. When the Muslims invaded Iberia in 711 AD, they brought Barb horses with them that were crossed with the native horses, developing a horse that became useful for war and bull fighting. In 1966, the Portuguese and Spanish stud books split, the Portuguese strain of the Iberian horse was named the Lusitano, after the word Lusitania, the ancient Roman name for the region that modern Portugal occupies.
There are four main breed lineages within the breed today, characteristics differ between each line. Lusitanos can be any solid color, although they are gray, bay or chestnut. Horses of the Alter Real strain are always bay. Members of the breed are of Baroque type, with convex facial profiles, heavy muscling and willing natures, with agile and elevated movement. Bred for war and bullfighting, Lusitanos are still used today in the latter two, they have competed in several Olympics and World Equestrian Games as part of the Portuguese and Spanish dressage teams. They have made a showing in driving competitions, with a Belgian team of Lusitanos winning multiple international titles. Horses were known to humans on what is now the Iberian Peninsula as far back as 25,000 to 20,000 BC, as shown by cave paintings in the area. Among the local wild horses used by humans were the probable ancestors of the modern Lusitano, as studies comparing ancient and modern horse DNA indicate that the modern "Lusitano C" group contains maternal lineages present in wild Iberian horses from the Early Neolithic period.
These ancient horses were used for war, with clear evidence of their use by Phoenicians around 1100 BC and Celts around 600 BC. It is believed that these invaders brought horses with them, contributing outside blood to the ancestry of the modern Iberian breeds. By 800 BC, the alliance known as Celtiberians had been formed by the Iberians and Celts, from this point on the horses bred in this area were renowned as war horses. Xenophon, writing around 370 BC, admired the advanced horsemanship and riding techniques used by Iberian horsemen in war, made possible in part by their agile horses. Legend claimed that mares of the area were sired by the wind, one modern hypothesis suggests that the bond between Iberian humans and horses was the initial inspiration for the centaur, believed to come from the area of the Tagus River. Invasions into the area by Carthaginians and Romans resulted in these civilizations establishing stud farms that bred cavalry horses for the Roman army from local stock; when the Umayyad Muslims invaded the Iberian peninsula in 711 AD, their invasion brought Barb horses, which were crossed with native Iberian horses.
The cross between these two breeds produced a war horse superior to the original Iberian horse, it was this new type that the Conquistadors introduced to the Americas. Called the Iberian war horse, this ancestor of the Lusitano was used both on the battlefield and in major riding academies throughout Europe. Bullfighting on horseback and displays of high school dressage were common entertainment for the Portuguese gentry. Mitochondrial DNA studies of the related modern Andalusian horse, compared to the Barb horse of North Africa, present convincing evidence that Barbs and Iberian horses crossed the Strait of Gibraltar in each direction, were crossbred with each other, thus each influenced the other's maternal bloodlines. While Portuguese historian Ruy d'Andrade hypothesized that the ancient Sorraia breed was an ancestor of the Southern Iberian breeds, including the Lusitano, genetic studies using mitochondrial DNA show that the Sorraia is part of a genetic cluster, separated from most Iberian breeds.
One maternal lineage is shared with the Lusitano, Sorraia lineages in Iberian breeds are recent, dating to the Middle Ages, making the Sorraia an unlikely prehistoric ancestor of the Lusitano. Prior to modern times, horse breeds throughout Europe were known by the name of the region where they were bred; the Lusitano takes its name from Lusitania, an ancient Roman name for the region that today is Portugal. A similar horse, the Spanish Andalusian described the horses of distinct quality that came from Andalusia in Spain; some sources state that the Andalusian and the Lusitano are genetically the same breed, the only difference is the country in which individual horses are born. The Lusitano is known as the Portuguese, National or Betico-lusitano horse. During the 16th and 17th centuries, horses moved continually between Spain and Portugal, horses from the studs of Andalusia were used to improve the Portuguese cavalry. Portugal's successful restoration war against Spain was in part based on mounted troops riding war horses of Spanish blood.
During the reign of Philip III of Portugal, Portuguese horse breeding reached its lowest point. The Spanish passed laws to halt the country's production of cavalry horses, what stud farms did exist were run in secrecy with horses smuggled or stolen from Spain; these s
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus. It is an odd-toed ungulate mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae; the horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature, into the large, single-toed animal of today. Humans began domesticating horses around 4000 BC, their domestication is believed to have been widespread by 3000 BC. Horses in the subspecies caballus are domesticated, although some domesticated populations live in the wild as feral horses; these feral populations are not true wild horses, as this term is used to describe horses that have never been domesticated, such as the endangered Przewalski's horse, a separate subspecies, the only remaining true wild horse. There is an extensive, specialized vocabulary used to describe equine-related concepts, covering everything from anatomy to life stages, colors, breeds and behavior. Horses' anatomy enables them to make use of speed to escape predators and they have a well-developed sense of balance and a strong fight-or-flight response.
Related to this need to flee from predators in the wild is an unusual trait: horses are able to sleep both standing up and lying down, with younger horses tending to sleep more than adults. Female horses, called mares, carry their young for 11 months, a young horse, called a foal, can stand and run shortly following birth. Most domesticated horses begin training in harness between the ages of two and four, they reach full adult development by age five, have an average lifespan of between 25 and 30 years. Horse breeds are loosely divided into three categories based on general temperament: spirited "hot bloods" with speed and endurance. There are more than 300 breeds of horse in the world today, developed for many different uses. Horses and humans interact in a wide variety of sport competitions and non-competitive recreational pursuits, as well as in working activities such as police work, agriculture and therapy. Horses were used in warfare, from which a wide variety of riding and driving techniques developed, using many different styles of equipment and methods of control.
Many products are derived from horses, including meat, hide, hair and pharmaceuticals extracted from the urine of pregnant mares. Humans provide domesticated horses with food and shelter, as well as attention from specialists such as veterinarians and farriers. Specific terms and specialized language are used to describe equine anatomy, different life stages and breeds. Depending on breed and environment, the modern domestic horse has a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years. Uncommonly, a few animals live into their 40s and beyond; the oldest verifiable record was "Old Billy", a 19th-century horse that lived to the age of 62. In modern times, Sugar Puff, listed in Guinness World Records as the world's oldest living pony, died in 2007 at age 56. Regardless of a horse or pony's actual birth date, for most competition purposes a year is added to its age each January 1 of each year in the Northern Hemisphere and each August 1 in the Southern Hemisphere; the exception is in endurance riding, where the minimum age to compete is based on the animal's actual calendar age.
The following terminology is used to describe horses of various ages: Foal: A foal of either sex less than one year old. A nursing foal is sometimes called a suckling and a foal, weaned is called a weanling. Most domesticated foals are weaned at five to seven months of age, although foals can be weaned at four months with no adverse physical effects. Yearling: A horse of either sex, between one and two years old. Colt: A male horse under the age of four. A common terminology error is to call any young horse a "colt", when the term only refers to young male horses. Filly: A female horse under the age of four. Mare: A female horse four years old and older. Stallion: A non-castrated male horse four years old and older; the term "horse" is sometimes used colloquially to refer to a stallion. Gelding: A castrated male horse of any age. In horse racing, these definitions may differ: For example, in the British Isles, Thoroughbred horse racing defines colts and fillies as less than five years old. However, Australian Thoroughbred racing defines fillies as less than four years old.
The height of horses is measured at the highest point of the withers. This point is used because it is a stable point of the anatomy, unlike the head or neck, which move up and down in relation to the body of the horse. In English-speaking countries, the height of horses is stated in units of hands and inches: one hand is equal to 4 inches; the height is expressed as the number of full hands, followed by a point the number of additional inches, ending with the abbreviation "h" or "hh". Thus, a horse described; the size of horses varies by breed, but is influenced by nutrition. Light riding horses range in height from 14 to 16 hands and can weigh from 380 to 550 kilograms. Larger riding horses start at about 15.2 hands and are as tall as 17 hands, weighing from 500 to 600 kilograms. Heavy or draft horses are at least 16 hands (64 inches, 16
English riding is a form of horse riding seen throughout the world. The term is a mis-leading portmanteau because many equestrian countries like Germany, Italy or Spain have used the same style of riding, with variations, for centuries. There are many variations, but all feature a flat English saddle without the deep seat, high cantle or saddle horn seen on a Western saddle nor the knee pads seen on an Australian Stock Saddle. Saddles within the various so-called English disciplines are all designed to allow the horse the freedom to move in the optimal manner for a given task, ranging from classical dressage to horse racing. English bridles vary in style based on discipline, but most feature some type of cavesson noseband as well as closed reins, buckled together at the ends, that prevents them from dropping on the ground if a rider becomes unseated. Clothing for riders in competition is based on traditional needs from which a specific style of riding developed, but most standards require, as a minimum, boots.
English riding is an equestrian discipline with many different styles, however, at the most basic level, most versions require riders to use both hands on the reins, rather than just one hand, as is seen in western riding. Riders "post" or "rise" to the trot; the "posting trot" is used most in a working or extended trot, although there are times when English riders may sit the trot. The posting trot was an English invention which did not take on in other countries until the 19th century, it is said. English riding is promoted in organizations for youth, such as Pony Club, is the basic style of riding seen in the various events at the Olympics. English saddles are used by many pleasure riders for everyday riding; the major subdivisions of the English riding genre are: Forms of competition and exhibition seen throughout the world. The competitions include dressage, eventing, horse racing, polo, show jumping, tent pegging. In the United States and Canada, there are two broad categories of English riding: Hunt seat, an overall term used in the United States to describe forward seat riding, used both on the flat and over fences.
This is the style most associated with the term "English" riding. The other major style is Saddle seat, a discipline created in North America to exhibit dramatic, high-stepping breeds of horses. Saddle seat style riding is seen outside North America, though it has a small following in South Africa. In North America, dressage sometimes is loosely lumped into the "hunt seat" category by Saddle Seat and non-English riders to differentiate it from the Saddle Seat disciplines. In addition to the international events listed in the previous section, the broad categories of English riding competition seen within the United States and Canada are: "Show events" or Competition in the UK and Australia, in addition to the international events listed above, include other types of hack and equipment classes, such as: In addition, most of these disciplines in all nations feature an equitation division in which riders are judged on their form and style. At some shows, a sidesaddle division is offered as well.
Equestrianism English saddle Bridle Horse show United States Equestrian Federation International Federation for Equestrian Sports Equestrian helmet
The Dust Bowl was a period of severe dust storms that damaged the ecology and agriculture of the American and Canadian prairies during the 1930s. The drought came in three waves, 1934, 1936, 1939–1940, but some regions of the high plains experienced drought conditions for as many as eight years. With insufficient understanding of the ecology of the plains, farmers had conducted extensive deep plowing of the virgin topsoil of the Great Plains during the previous decade; the rapid mechanization of farm equipment small gasoline tractors, widespread use of the combine harvester contributed to farmers' decisions to convert arid grassland to cultivated cropland. During the drought of the 1930s, the unanchored soil turned to dust, which the prevailing winds blew away in huge clouds that sometimes blackened the sky; these choking billows of dust – named "black blizzards" or "black rollers" – traveled cross country, reaching as far as the East Coast and striking such cities as New York City and Washington, D.
C. On the plains, they reduced visibility to 3 feet or less. Associated Press reporter Robert E. Geiger happened to be in Boise City, Oklahoma, to witness the "Black Sunday" black blizzards of April 14, 1935. While the term "the Dust Bowl" was a reference to the geographical area affected by the dust, today it refers to the event itself; the drought and erosion of the Dust Bowl affected 100,000,000 acres that centered on the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma and touched adjacent sections of New Mexico and Kansas. The Dust Bowl forced tens of thousands of poverty-stricken families to abandon their farms, unable to pay mortgages or grow crops, losses reached $25 million per day by 1936. Many of these families, who were known as "Okies" because so many of them came from Oklahoma, migrated to California and other states to find that the Great Depression had rendered economic conditions there little better than those they had left; the Dust Bowl has been the subject of many cultural works, notably the novel The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, the folk music of Woody Guthrie, photographs depicting the conditions of migrants by Dorothea Lange.
The Dust Bowl area lies principally west of the 100th meridian on the High Plains, characterized by plains which vary from rolling in the north to flat in the Llano Estacado. Elevation ranges from 2,500 feet in the east to 6,000 feet at the base of the Rocky Mountains; the area is semiarid. The region is prone to extended drought, alternating with unusual wetness of equivalent duration. During wet years, the rich soil provides bountiful agricultural output, but crops fail during dry years; the region is subject to high winds. During early European and American exploration of the Great Plains, this region was thought unsuitable for European-style agriculture; the lack of surface water and timber made the region less attractive than other areas for pioneer settlement and agriculture. The federal government encouraged settlement and development of the Plains for agriculture via the Homestead Act of 1862, offering settlers 160-acre plots. With the end of the Civil War in 1865 and the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, waves of new migrants and immigrants reached the Great Plains, they increased the acreage under cultivation.
An unusually wet period in the Great Plains mistakenly led settlers and the federal government to believe that "rain follows the plow" and that the climate of the region had changed permanently. While initial agricultural endeavors were cattle ranching, the adverse effect of harsh winters on the cattle, beginning in 1886, a short drought in 1890, general overgrazing, led many landowners to increase the amount of land under cultivation. Recognizing the challenge of cultivating marginal arid land, the United States government expanded on the 160 acres offered under the Homestead Act – granting 640 acres to homesteaders in western Nebraska under the Kinkaid Act and 320 acres elsewhere in the Great Plains under the Enlarged Homestead Act. Waves of European settlers arrived in the plains at the beginning of the 20th century. A return of unusually wet weather confirmed a held opinion that the "formerly" semiarid area could support large-scale agriculture. At the same time, technological improvements such as mechanized plowing and mechanized harvesting made it possible to operate larger properties without increasing labor costs.
The combined effects of the disruption of the Russian Revolution, which decreased the supply of wheat and other commodity crops, World War I increased agricultural prices. For example, in the Llano Estacado of eastern New Mexico and northwestern Texas, the area of farmland was doubled between 1900 and 1920 tripled again between 1925 and 1930; the agricultural methods favored by farmers during this per