Stock Show 1940s

Join Up: Exploring Equine Culture in Colorado

How have horses shaped the history of Colorado and the West? History Colorado seeks to answer this and other questions about the relationship between equines and humans in our state with an initiative, Join Up: Exploring Equine Culture in Colorado

In horsemanship, “join up” describes a relationship between horse and human built on trust and partnership rather than hierarchy of one species over another. In this spirit, over the course of several months scholars, veterinary practitioners, ranchers, equestrians, and many others will join up for a series of presentations and conversations that will examine different aspects of horse culture throughout history and the West for the ultimate purpose of planning an exhibition at the History Colorado Center for 2021.

man walking his horse in a deep bank of snow
group of Southern Ute men on horseback
horse racing at Overland Park racetrack
A bucking horse sculpture in a display case.
Loren Bailey on his horse, Tony, 1955.
A double hitch of teams of horses hooked to a sulky two bottom plow and a section of harrow on the Frank Carnes Farm, southeast of Haxtun. Photo taken in the 1920s.
Photo of the indoor arena at the National Western Stock Show, full of dozens of riders in cowboy apparel on horseback, celebrating the inaugural event. The stands are packed with spectators.

In this series, we explore the importance of horses and other equines to the heritage and history of communities in Colorado. 

Horses have a long history in Colorado, from the bones of ancient pre-historic horses discovered alongside lithic caches, all the way to today. Horses, and their close relatives burros and mules, were utilized as transport, beasts of burden, and animal companions by every culture that has inhabited our state, from the native Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Ute to the Spanish and Anglo settlers. They were a common ground, something to be both shared and contested.

This broad understanding allows us to explore the many different ways that people in Colorado have relationships with their equines, and ultimately this series will introduce horses in a way that has never before been considered. The horse is still a vehicle of curiosity, understanding, and elevation between many Colorado communities.

Join Up! is generously supported by the Dea Family Foundation, Cathy Carpenter Dea and Peter Dea.

For more information, please contact Tamar McKee at r call (303) 866-4600.


Past Programs