Sand Hills Discovery Conference: The Year of the Horse


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By Keevin Arent

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2014 is the year of the horse.

While dogs have been touted as man’s best friend and lions have long reigned as kings of the jungle, it almost seems that horses have been taken for granted in the scheme of human progress. Imagine being one of the fine steeds bearing the characters of Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, General George Armstrong Custer, Crazy Horse, or, even as recently as World War I, ceremoniously carrying General John J. Pershing. Herein would lay the seedbeds of great storytelling. There are surely plenty of old cowboy’s mounts from the Sandhills and surrounding areas of Nebraska with interesting tales and anecdotes beneath their saddle blankets.

Historical, paleontological, and archaeological evidence suggest that the horse’s ancestors had their beginnings on the North American continent millions of years ago. Somehow, as the eons progressed, they died out in that global area between thirteen thousand and eleven thousand years ago, finding their homes in Asia and Europe. Thanks to the Spanish conquests of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, they were again introduced to the Americas. The story from thereon is pretty much as we know it today.

In light of all this, the Sand Hills Discovery Foundation, in Ainsworth, Nebraska, will host its 2014 Discovery Conference on that particular subject at the Ainsworth High School, July 9 through July 11. The main conference will take place at the learning center with registration at eight a.m. on July 10. Several interesting and informative pre- and post-conference tours will take place on July 9 and 11. (Click here for definitive and comprehensive information and complete registration forms.)

Dr. Mike Voorhies, of Ashfall fame, will present his insights on the fossil records of horses in Nebraska. Dave Nesheim, assistant professor of social and communication arts at Chadron State College, will share the highlights of the great 1893 Chadron to Chicago horse race. Victor Douville, who teaches Lakota history at Sinte Gleska University, will give presentations on Lakota horse culture and Lakota Plains astronomy. All in all, with several other participants such as Shane Tucker from Elephant Hall at UNL, it promises to be an informative and delightful day. Study the tours of the preceding and following days to see if this conference might be just what you need for a Nebraska summer getaway.

The Sand Hills Discovery Foundation invites you to come and share a wealth of information and knowledge at this year’s Discovery Conference. Also, bring along any old or new horse tales you old cowboys, cowgirls, or equine lovers may feel inclined to swish about.

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