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What Really Makes a Medicine Hat Horse?
 By mosquito   •   4th Aug 2010   •   35,281 views   •   15 comments
The myth and mystery of the Medicine Hat horse goes back many, many years. The Medicine Hat horse is a special animal, supposed to have special powers, and is very rare. They have been immortalized in stories like in Marguerite Henry’s book ‘San Domingo’, which was also honored by a Breyer model and a motion picture.

Medicine Hat horseBut what is a Medicine Hat horse? Basically, it’s a pinto horse, but one with a very specific marking. The horse is almost entirely white, but has a colored patch covering the ears and the top of the head. A Medicine Hat can have other markings, but the less they have the more powerful they were believed to be. It is sometimes mistakenly believed that a Medicine Hat also had to have certain other markings, such as a spot over its chest (a ‘shield’), but in reality the most prized Medicine Hats were all white except for the poll marking. The distinguishing head markings are what makes up the ‘medicine hat’, or ‘war bonnet’. Medicine Hats often have pink muzzles, and those with one or more blue eyes are especially prized.

The mythology of the Medicine Hat horse is steeped in Native American tradition and legend. A Medicine Hat horse is believed to have a magical ability to protect its rider from injury or death in battle, and were thought to have special abilities to warn their riders of danger and to find wild game hiding in forests or canyons. The mainly white coats were often decorated with other magical symbols, believed to increase the horse’s powers.

Tribes would try and steal the Medicine Hat horse of another tribe, believing that in doing so they would have the horse’s good luck, and steal the good luck of the other tribe. A Medicine Hat horse was closely guarded by a tribe, and was a central part of a very complicated belief system the horse was much more than a ‘good luck charm’.

Are there Medicine Hat horses today? Of course the ‘medicine hat’ marking can still occur, and is found in pintos of almost any breed, although it is still most common in Mustangs and their close relations, the Spanish Barb. That said, Einstein, the newly born tiny foal getting a lot of attention for his small size, is also just about a Medicine Hat, as is his pony mother.



Are they magical? Who knows? There is certainly something special about these horses. It may just be that they have such striking and unusual markings, but it may be something more. If when you see one, you sense something magical, then maybe you’ll know!
What Really Makes a Medicine Hat Horse?
What Really Makes a Medicine Hat Horse?
What Really Makes a Medicine Hat Horse?
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  mosquito
Painted Destiny  
Cool!
  Aug 4, 2010  •  24,865 views
 
Undesired Humor  
I've seen one! He was...well, different.
  Aug 4, 2010  •  24,875 views
 
SnowenSugar  
Haha. I have a very special horse then. I have a medicine hat with two blue eyes.
  Aug 5, 2010  •  24,975 views
 
ladybell  
A friend of mine's mom owns a medicine hat mare, and her baby turned out to be a medicine hat, with light grey markings due to his sire being a black and white paint..
  Aug 5, 2010  •  24,934 views
 
Beeswax Crusade  
I think an old lesson horse I rode was a medicine hat...I can't really remember anymore his exact markings...But it'd be cool if he was :D
  Aug 6, 2010  •  24,897 views
 
Savellla  
Very knowledgeably written ^.^
I just recently attained a Paint mare with two blue eyes and less than a square foot of color on her, but the poll marking just barely misses her ears! :P
  Aug 6, 2010  •  25,052 views
 
Savellla  
Very knowledgeably written ^.^
I just recently attained a Paint mare with two blue eyes and less than a square foot of color on her, but the poll marking just barely misses her ears! :P
  Aug 6, 2010  •  25,052 views
 
Savellla  
Very knowledgeably written ^.^
I just recently attained a Paint mare with two blue eyes and less than a square foot of color on her, but the poll marking just barely misses her ears! :P
  Aug 6, 2010  •  25,052 views
 
Savellla  
Very knowledgeably written ^.^
I just recently attained a Paint mare with two blue eyes and less than a square foot of color on her, but the poll marking just barely misses her ears! :P
  Aug 6, 2010  •  25,052 views
 
Cloudy Cat  
Wow, I remember reading San Domingo in elementary school. It was an excellent book. I love the medicine hats as well. I've never actually seen one, but they are beautiful horses. Great article. :)
  Aug 9, 2010  •  24,930 views
 
Castaway Wish  
OMG! There is one at my barn, her name is Lucy and she has only 2 markings, one covering her ears, and a really tiny one that you can barely see because it is on her belly, near the rear legs! She is black and white, and apparently a really good jumper.
  21 days ago  •  24,883 views
 
Castaway Wish  
I guess Lucy is a really powerful Medicine Hat horse then.
  21 days ago  •  24,887 views
 
Castaway Wish  
And Lucy has 2 blue eyes! She must be like, really powerful as a medicine hat horse (if they are)
  21 days ago  •  24,887 views
 
Castaway Wish  
And Lucy has 2 blue eyes! She must be like, really powerful as a medicine hat horse (if they are)
  21 days ago  •  24,887 views
 
DeadSugar  
Awesome article! Such a cute video too :)
  Sep 14, 2014  •  3,911 views
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