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In the Old West days, several people changed the course of history for the United States. If I could be any of them, I would have wanted to be Frank T. Hopkins. If I were Frank Hopkins, this would be my life.I was born shortly after the Civil War in a log cabin in Fort Laramie, Wyoming. My father was an army scout and my mother was the daughter of a Sioux chief. Growing up, I often rode with the Indians to capture and break mustangs. In my early teens, I rode dispatch for Generals Miles and Crook. Later, I was a buffalo hunter and worked with Buffalo Jones, Bill Matheson, William Hinrer, and Bill Cody. I was riding mustangs and had developed definite opinions about them. When I was riding as a messenger for General Crook, he mentioned to me, “…if troops can’t overtake a band of Indians in two hours, it’s better to give up the chase.” When I asked him why that was, the general replied that the wiry Indian ponies “…can go 90 miles without food or water. They can wear out all the cavalry horses we have on the frontier.” What the General didn’t know, was that I was aware of the problem even before General Crook had realized the situation. Besides the phenomenal endurance of the mustang, Frank also rated the mustang as an intelligent and economical horse. You see, you can’t beat mustang intelligence in the entire equine race. These animals have had to shift for themselves for generations. They had to work out their own destiny or be destroyed. Those that survived were animals of superior intelligence. The mustang was grass-fed all his life. He picked his own food from the country, could live where even a cow would starve, and knew how to take such good care of himself that he was always ready to go.My first endurance ride was in the Summer of 1886. It was to be from Galveston, Texas to Rutland, Vermont. Buffalo Jones was as much of a fan of the mustang as I was. Horse for horse, both me and Jones believed that a mustang could beat any other breed or type. We decided to prove our opinion. Jones agreed to finance the ride if would enter the race. Only one horse was allowed for each rider, and a day’s journey was not to exceed ten hours.

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