Long before European contact, Polynesian settlers brought with them pigs, chickens, and various edible plants, establishing the foundation for food sources in the islands. These animals not only provided sustenance but also contributed to the creation of tools such as fishhooks and picks, utilizing their bones.
The advent of European contact marked a significant turning point in Hawaii's ranching practices. Captain Vancouver presented King Kamehameha I with five cows, which became the catalyst for a remarkable expansion of the cattle industry on the islands. Hawaii's lush grasslands provided ideal conditions for the thriving cattle population. Initially, ranchers employed hunting techniques by riding into the higher lands of Mauna Kea and using pits to trap the cattle. The animals were utilized not only for their meat but also for their hides, which held value in trade.
The introduction of horses in 1803 accelerated the Hawaiians' affinity for these magnificent creatures. Within a mere two decades, Hawaiians had become proficient horsemen and horsewomen. In the words of English explorer Isabella Bird, "except for short shopping distances in Honolulu, I have never seen a native man or woman walking . . . and I have seen men take the trouble to mount horses to go 100 yards."
This deep-rooted love for horses has transcended generations, ultimately finding a home within Chris Dawson's soul. He now dedicates himself tirelessly to preserving and honoring this cherished tradition, keeping the spirit of ranching alive in Hawaii.
Source: DLNR - Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Blog (https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/blog/2017/12/08/nr17-193/)