General Philippe Regis de Trobriand, commander of Fort Stevenson, once explained one of the reasons the military struggled when fighting the Sioux during the 1870s.
“His horse eats no grain ” he wrote, “he gets enough nourishment by grazing on the prairie... There is no equipment to carry. His saddle is nothing; his bridle just a lasso of buffalo leather, and he hardly uses that. If he must go up a hill on the gallop while being pursued, he will run alongside his horse in order to spare him... The Indian pony without stopping can cover a distance of from sixty to eighty miles between sunrise and sunset, while most of our horses are tired out at the end of thirty or forty miles... In brief, the movement of Indian horsemen is lighter, swifter, and longer range than that of our cavalry, which means that they always get away from us.”
Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm