The Woman Who Became a Horse.
The Woman Who Became a Horse
BACKGROUND | STORYTELLER
The Skidi Pawnee Legend
There was a village, and the men decided to go on a warpath. So these men started, and they journeyed for several days toward the south. They came to a thickly wooded country. They found wild horses, and among them was a spotted pony. One man caught the spotted pony and took care of it. He took it home, and instructed his wife to look after it, as if it were their chief.
This she did, and, further, she liked the horse very much. She took it where there was good grass. In the winter time she cut young cottonwood shoots for it, so that the horse was always fat. In the night, if it was stormy, she pulled a lot of dry grass, and when she put the blanket over the horse and tied it up, she stuffed the grass under the blanket, so the horse never got cold. It was always fine and sleek.
She followed him until they came to where the horse had been, and the man said, “You went with me. It is I who was a horse.”
She was glad, for she liked the horse. For several years they were together, and the woman gave birth, and it was a spotted pony. When the pony was born, the woman found she had a tail like that of a horse. She also had long hair. When the colt sucked, the woman stood up.
For several years they roamed about, and had more ponies, all spotted. At home the man mourned for his lost wife. He could not make out why should go off.
People went on a hunt many years afterward, and they came across these spotted ponies. People did not care to attack them, for among them was a strange looking animal. But, as they came across them now and then, they decided to catch them. They were hard to catch, but at last they caught them, all but the woman, for she could run fast; but as they caught her children, she gave in and was caught.
People said, “This is the woman who was lost.” And some said, “No, it is not.”
Her husband was sent for, and he recognized her. He took his bow and arrows out and shot her dead, for he did not like to see her with the horse’s tail. The other spotted ponies were kept, and as they increased, they were spotted. So the people had many spotted ponies.
The Salish Legend
A chief had many horses, and among them a stallion which his wife often rode. The woman and stallion became enamored of each other. The woman grew careless of her household duties and always wanted to look after the horses.
When the people moved camp, and the horses were brought in, it was noticed that the stallion made right for the woman and sniffed about her as stallions do with mares.
After this she was watched. When her husband learned the truth, he shot the stallion. The woman cried and would not go to bed.
At daybreak she was gone, no one knew where. About a year after this it was discovered that she had gone off with some wild horses. One day when the people were traveling over a large open place they saw a band of horses, and the woman among them. She had partly changed into a horse. She also had much hair on her body, and the hair of her head had grown to resemble a horse’s mane. Her arms and legs had also changed considerably; but her face was still human, and bore some resemblance to her original self. The chief sent some young men to chase her. All the wild horses ran away, but she could not run so fast as they, and was run down and lassoed. She was brought into her husband’s lodge; and the people watched her for some time, trying to tame her, but she continued to act and whinny like a horse. At last they let her free.
The following year they saw her again. She had become almost entirely horse, and had a colt by her side. She had many children afterwards.