To meet increasing demand for horses, Comanches stepped up their raids on the Spanish frontier. This new wave of violence shattered the Spanish province of New Mexico and the region essentially became a Comanche satellite. Taos coped with this cycle of raiding and plundering be becoming essentially a “free city” and independent of Spanish authority. The Comanches also turned on their former allies, the Utes, driving them back into the mountains of Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. Texas become politically and economically inert as the Comanches isolated it from trade with other Spanish provinces.
Comanche horse herds blossomed, requiring slaves for herding. Insatiable demand for horses, and the people to tend them, drove additional raiding. Comanches under Cuerno Verde stripped New Mexico of its animals and many of its residents, and raids shifted toward the South Texas missions for fresh plunder.
The Wichita (Taovayas) served as their trading outlet, and they in turned moved the ponies to the Mississippi Valley to ready customers. The Caddos (Hasinais) and Tonkawas faded away from the Comanche sphere, drifting to the south and east, marginalized and impoverished by the overwhelming trade power of their allies.
In response, the Spanish moved to isolate the Comanches from their allies, especially the Wichitas (Taovayas). Believing they might be able to fill a trading niche between Spanish Texas and the Mississippi valley without having to play runner up to the Comanches, the Wichitas realigned with the Europeans in 1772.
When the Spanish tried in turn to reach an accord with the Comanches, the Wichitas did what they could to hamstring that effort, fully intending to position themselves as the indispensible middlemen in any south plains trade network.
Their ambitions backfired. From 1772-1780, Comanche raids began grinding down the Wichitas, driving them away from the Red River and deeper into the interior of Texas, threatening them with the fate of the Caddos and Tonkawas. The Spanish did nothing to save them. There were 40,000 Comanches by that time—more people than in Spanish Texas and New Mexico combined.