Highlighting Horses in our Collection

This weekend marks the 145th reprise of The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports. Many of us will watch thoroughbreds earn their costly pedigree at the Kentucky Derby. While we celebrate these purebred horses for their agility and speed, horses in Colorado were largely obtained from wild herds of mustangs that were caught and domesticated. Wild horses and cowboys have long represented Colorado and the rest of the American West on the covers of western pulp books and magazines and in the minds of people all over the world. Historically, horses in the West have had more practical purposes than the status symbols that run at the Kentucky Derby.

From their use in transportation and work to recreation and warfare, horses have played an essential role in the culture and economy of Colorado. Historical materials such as photographs, manuscript collections, maps, artifacts, and objects related to horses reveal the evolving relationship between horses and humans. The following images represent some of History Colorado’s collection materials that celebrate horses (and donkeys) across a variety of formats, settings, circumstances, and times.

horse racing at Overland Park racetrack
photo of men standing on horses in race
magazine cover with cowboy on horse
man walking his horse in a deep bank of snow
Pony Express Route Map
Newspaper article with silhouette of Blucifer
Bronco Cheerleader Poster
horse bit
Equestrian Fair Poster
photo of donkeys
poster with carousel horse
group of Southern Ute men on horseback

Visit the Stephen H. Hart Research Center to discover History Colorado’s collection and how it can inspire you to discover new things about Colorado’s past. The research center, located in the History Colorado Center, is free and open to the public. Hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Staff members are available during open hours to help you find materials of interest.