El Rancho in South Texas: Continuity and Change From 1750 Page: 11
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The roots of Spanish ranching were planted in the
New World on January 2, 1494, when, on his sec-
ond voyage, Columbus unloaded twenty-four stallions,
ten mares, and an unknown number of cattle just
off the northern coast of Hispaniola, near present-day
Cape Haitien, Haiti. The first of their kind to arrive
in the new world, these livestock and their progeny
"were destined to change the face of the New World
and bring about a revolution comparable in impact
to that of the Industrial Revolution nearly three cen-
turies later" (Dary 1981). Beginning in 1498, Spaniards
began to establish small cattle ranches or royal villas in
order to increase the numbers of breeding stock. By
the early ISoos, livestock raising had spread to modem-
day Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Cuba, and other islands of
the West Indies. Cattle eventually became so numerous
that many roamed wild on the islands.
When Hernin Cortes came to Mexico in 1519, he
brought with him sixteen Andalusian horses: eleven
stallions and five mares. Horses would be the key factor
which made it possible for Cortes to achieve the seem-
ingly impossible-to conquer a nation of many thou-
sands with only a few hundred men. Although some
claim that these were "Arabians," the horses the Span-
ish brought to the New World were in reality a mixture
of the greys and roans which had lived in their country
for centuries and Moorish horses brought to Spain in
the 14oos. As Dary notes, by 1492, "the Spaniards [in
Spain] were riding the small, swift, and hardy Anda-
lusian horses, but they had adopted Moorish saddles
with short stirrups and the Moors' Arabian style of
riding and fighting" (1981).
Six months before Cortes captured Mexico City, an
expedition led by Gregoria de Villalobos arrived on
the banks of the Pinuco River near present-day Tam-
pico with several head of cattle-the first to arrive in
Mexico. When he became lieutenant governor of New
Spain less than a year later, he began coordinating
the arrival of settlers, supplies, and livestock. So many
cattle were being imported from the West Indies that
the islanders feared they would lose their monopoly
on livestock, and so imposed strong restrictions on ex-
porting such animals to the mainland. When Cortes
learned of these restrictions, he became angry. Arguing
that cattle were necessary if the settlements in Mexico
were to survive, Cortes persuaded Emperor Charles V
of Spain to lift the restrictions placed on exportation
by the islanders, and the flow of cattle and other live-
While there were no careful records kept of the kinds
of cattle brought to the New World, Rouse notes that
at least three breeds of Spanish cattle were imported:
(I) the Barrenda, or piebald, which had a white body
with black markings on the neck and ears, (2) the Re-
tinto, a tan and reddish colored animal with a long,
narrow head, and (3) the ancient ganado prieto, a black
animal commonly known as the Andalusian fighting
bull (1977). These cattle interbred and would eventually
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Graham, Joe S. El Rancho in South Texas: Continuity and Change From 1750, book, 1994; Denton, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28328/m1/23/?q=el%20rancho: accessed April 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.