Horses: How They Have Shaped Our Lives
Welcome to our new Lifestyle Blog! We are hoping to provide you with interesting articles and features of people from around the globe highlighting the many reasons we love horses and how they have created a culture that greatly impacts our lives.
Today I wanted to talk a little about the history of horses. From an incredibly estimated 4500 BC, horses have roamed the earth forming herds and establishing pecking orders. Their speed and powerful ability to kick was evolved to help them escape crazy predators like the Terror Raptor and the Sabretooth Tiger. I think I would definitely run a little faster if I was being chased by either one of those. Although closely related to their cousins the zebras, horses were the chosen ones to be domesticated since zebras are much more territorial and have a nasty habit of biting. Horses are amazing animals that have been used for work, battle, and companionship for centuries and still have a substantial presence in our current lifestyles.
I remember when I first went to get on a horse the handler gave us a safety talk about the correct way to approach a horse, ride a horse, etc. I remember one statement that she made very clearly, “Always remember that horses are powerful creatures.” Truer words have not been spoken as horses were synonymous with having power back in the old days. If your soldiers showed up on horses, your King meant business. In fact, horses were so powerful they were limited to only the truly worthy warriors, such as the Japanese Samurai as early as 250 AD. Only the upper class Samurai warriors were allowed to ride horses providing them with a “special weapon” and the ability to rule the country side. This only makes me feel better about being on a horse, since we can now assume that all who ride horses must be Samurai warriors.
Another example is when the Spanish invaded what is now Mexico in the 1500's, the Incas were not familiar with horses. The Spanish saw this fear and started to spread rumors that the horses were actually magical beasts that could conquer the lands. I can see how this was an easy rumor to accept since I have always felt that horses have some sort of magic about them. Countless of historical wars, all the way up to World War I and even as recently as 2002 in Afghanistan, horses were used to have the upper hand in power. And that power did not stop on the war field. Horses and cattle helped the North American people in their quest for the west. These powerful work animals helped pull plows, carriages, and helped provide much needed transportation over rugged landscape. Horses were one of the main ways to keep in contact with others across North America through the Pony Express. Trains covered the eastern portion of the US and the horses covered the western half. It was a promise to get a letter over to the west coast from the east coast in ten days! Can you imagine having that kind of deadline riding over the Rocky Mountains? And it only cost around $5 or less! Horses were truly an integral part in shaping our lives in history into what we are familiar with today.
The western culture of Rodeo was started when the Spanish Conquistadors brought over a wealth of knowledge to the Midwest on how to use horses to herd and rope cattle. In fact the word Rodeo, comes from the Spanish verb rodear, which means to go round. This event was born out of skills that at one time were only used on the hillside to capture cows who needed medical attention or branding. After the hard work was done, cowboys would sit around the campfire and show off their roping or riding skills to one another. Everyone knows that when you have a lot of guys sitting around saying, “look what I can do,” it’s only a short time until a full blown competition is taking place. Traveling “Wild West” shows in the 1800's only helped solidify the events such as Team Roping, Calf Roping, Barrel Racing, Bucking Broncos and others to become competitive sports. The Rodeo was born and ever since then we have been living a lifestyle of horse competition, livestock animals, and a culture all our own. Refining skills and taking care of these amazing animals is a way of life filled with cowboy boots, hats, tack, and our own brand of music. And let’s not forget the awesome food!!
The American Museum of Natural History put it like this, “No other animal can match the contributions that horses have made to human civilization.” I tend to agree with them. Join us in our blog as we explore how these magnificent animals have shaped individuals’ lives and how we owe much of our history to their presence and power.
"Horse." AMNH. American Museum of Natural History, 17 May 2008. Web. 08 Sept. 2015. <http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/past-exhibitions/horse>.
Conquerors: the roots of New World horsemanship Deb Bennett - Amigo Publications – 1998
"History." Old Fort Days Rodeo ::. 2012 Old Fort Days Rodeo, 2012. Web. 08 Sept. 2015. <http://oldfortdaysrodeo.com/index.php?page=history>.
- Burge Linton