Fun Facts About the History of Horses
Humans have been fascinated with horses and have lived and worked with them for thousands of years. They appear in our art, in our mythology, and in our ancestors’ daily lives. Have you ever wondered about the history of horses? Here are a few fun facts you might not have known.
- Horses were first domesticated more than 4,000 years ago. Humans have been a part of the history of horses for a very long time. Horses have been domesticated for at least 4,000 years, and may have even been domesticated as long as 6,000 years ago, based on gene studies that have been done recently.
- Mustangs aren’t actually wild horses. American culture has romanticized wild mustangs as a meaningful symbol of our identity, but they are actually considered feral. Mustangs started out as horses the Spanish Conquistadors left behind, and have of course gained genetic material from other domestic horses over the centuries. Since they descended from domesticated horses, however, they are not truly wild.
- There is only one true wild horse. The only true wild horse still in existence today is Przewalski’s horse, an equine species that lives in Mongolia. The species had a scrape with extinction around 50 years ago, when the only remaining Przewalski’s horses were those living in captivity, but they were successfully reintroduced to the wild. With only a few hundred in the wild today, though, they are still considered endangered, although their population is thought to be increasing.
- The Arabian breed has founded many of the other breeds in existence today. Arabians represent one of the oldest domesticated breeds, as their line was carefully domesticated and bred by the Bedouins for many thousands of years. Today there are many different breeds of domesticated horses to choose from, but Arabian parentage is at the root of many of them. For instance, Arabians were used to breed the first Thoroughbreds, Missouri Foxtrotters, Morgans, and Quarter Horses, among others.
- Humans have long shod their horses’ feet. If you’re having trouble deciding whether to shoe your horses, remember that humans have been doing so for many centuries throughout the history of horses. Shoeing first became a practice during the 6th and 7th centuries, and was commonplace by around 1000 AD. Even before that, humans had been trying to protect their horses’ hooves from excessive wear. Asians fashioned booties for their horses’ feet, and the Romans strapped on sandals much like the ones they themselves wore.
The human love affair with horses is not a new story. It has been going on for many thousands of years, across many different cultures, most of which are gone now. So next time you groom your horse, hop on for a ride, or even just give him a pat or a kiss on the muzzle, remember that the relationship between you has been in the making for millennia.