Horses are graceful animals
The dog maybe man’s best friend, but it was horse that built civilization!
Without horses the human history would have been quite different. Almost in every event in history horses were together with people. Almost everywhere alongside with the foot- prints of people you’ll find hoof-prints of the horse.
Scientists believe that the horse first appeared in North America. It was a fox-sized animal only about a foot high at the shoulder. But it kept changing and growing and about a million years ago, pony-sized horses galloped across ancient plains around the world.
About 50,000 years ago man established a relationship with the horse. At first people hunted horses, which wasn’t very easy, then they learned to herd these animals. The horse was becoming a worker — a source of help to man — not just a meal on the hoof. It took people many years to learn how to ride. They had nobody around to teach them, besides they had to invent reins and saddles.
When people tamed horses, they could travel long distances, explore unknown lands and conquer them. People realized that the animals were very useful in war.
The horses were at all times very expensive to keep. They had to be fed more often and they required more expensive food than other animals. So, horses were the privilege of the rich.
Even now we use the term ‘horsepower’ — coined by the English engineer James Watt — to measure how much work is done by an engine. This term shows just how much respect the horses have earned.
Horse races were popular in ancient Greece and they are no less popular now. Quite a few people take part in horse races, hunting on horseback, polo and show jump, much more people enjoy watching these events, and many learn to ride just for fun.
Highlights in the history of horses
– During the Ice Age, herds of horses roamed every continent except Antarctica. But sometime during this era, horses mysteriously vanished from North America. One theory explaining their disappearance is that the horses migrated north and west to Siberia across a land bridge.
– The people who lived in central Asia around 4000 B.C. were the first to tame and ride horses.
– Horses were bred for size and stamina during the Middle Ages. They carried knights and heavy equipment into battle and wore armor, like their riders.
– In A.D. 1519, horses reappeared in North America. They were brought to Mexico by the invading Spanish conquistadores (conquerors).
– Native Americans used horses for hunting and fighting. Horses played an important part in the colonizing and settling of America from the 1600s well into the 1800s. They were used for transportation, individually, and as teams for stagecoaches and covered wagons; for clearing land and plowing; and (briefly) as mounts for Pony Express riders who carried the mail between Missouri and California.
– Today, horses are kept for riding, hunting, competitive sports like racing and polo, and as performers, in circuses, rodeos, and movies. Show horses are specially trained for jumping and other show events.
Some horses became internationally famous.
Bucephalus is the famous horse of Alexander the Great. When Alexander was a boy he managed to tame the wild horse that nobody could mount. He turned the animal’s head towards the sun, so it wouldn’t be frightened by its own shadow. Alexander named the horse Bucephalus (ox-head) because the horse’s head seemed as broad as a bull’s. Bucephalus carried Alexander on many military campaigns and finally died in battle; Alexander founded the city of Bucephala in his horse’s honor.
General Robert E. Lee led the forces of the Confederacy in the American Civil War. Lee’s horse Traveler became a familiar and beloved figure among Confederate troops. After the war Lee took Traveler with him, and when the horse died it was buried near Lee’s tomb.
Marengo belonged to Napoleon. Although he was only one of 130 horses used by Napoleon during his career. Marengo became famous after the Battle of Waterloo, when it was captured by the British and taken to England.
In Greek myth Pegasus was a wild winged horse, tamed by Bellerophon. They killed the terrible Chimera and performed other great deeds before they were separated. Bellerophon is no longer a famous figure, but Pegasus has remained a favorite in fairy tales and cartoons.
The racehorse Phar Lap was so popular in Australia that after its sudden death in 1932, its body was preserved by three different museums. Phar Lap’s skeleton went to the National Museum in New Zealand, the country of its birth. Its huge heart (nearly 50% larger than a typical horse’s) went to the National Institute of Anatomy. Its hide was displayed for many decades in the National Museum in Melbourne.
The expression Trojan Horse is known in many languages. It comes from the story about the War of Troy. The Greeks couldn’t conquer the city of Troy, so they pretended to be leaving. But they left a huge wooden horse behind. The Trojans thought it was a gift and took it into the city. That night the Greek soldiers hidden inside the horse crept out and opened the gates of Troy. The city fell…
– Horses mostly live only for 25-30 years. But Old Billy, born in England, was 62 years when he died.
– Stallion Sampson weighed 1520 kilograms and was the heaviest one.
– The horse was a symbol of the Persian Empire, and only nobles could inherit it.
– White horses were sometimes drowned in the sea as a sacrifice to Poseidon, the creator of the horses.
– Hindus associated the horse with the cosmos, and a white horse was considered as the latest incarnation of the god Vishnu.
– 23 nations consider the horse a sacred animal.
– You can look at horses’ teeth to determine the age.
– Horses have colored dreams.
– There are about 75 million horses in the world.
– A horse’s height is measured in hands. One hand equals about four inches.
– Horses in the wild run in herds. The herd is headed by a stallion (mature male) and includes mares (mature females), foals, and colts.
– Foals – baby horses – are born with their eyes open. They can stand up almost immediately after birth and are able to run around within a few hours. A foal usually inherits its father’s (sire’s) looks, but its mother’s (dam’s) personality and constitution.
– A year-old colt (young male horse) is half-grown. Colts reach their full height and weight at five years old. A filly is a female horse that is under four years old.