Main image for "A Country Built by Horse Power", at Horse Journals.

The role of horses in working society

Civilization was built on the back of a horse.

A bit of history

The Equine Heritage Institute writes in an article entitled, “The Role of the Horses in Human Societies”:

“Most people think of history and civilization as being made and created by men, but often, history and the development of human societies and civilizations are drastically altered by the introduction of an influential catalyst. Some of those influential catalysts from our past are fire, the wheel, metal, agriculture, religion, and written language but one is missing in the typical history books and it comes in the form of an animal.”

“There is one mammal that transformed the world once its speed and power were harnessed. It is the first thing that allowed man to travel faster than his two legs could carry him on land. It is the creature that a few of us, as equestrians, know and appreciate in our current-day lives. The unsung hero is the Horse.”

“Something special happened 6,000 years ago when the horse became domesticated. The world was transformed. The equine’s speed and power gave man a new approach to the world. Now tribes were united into empires, distance travel became viable, and cultures and languages raced around the known world.”

“The uses for the horse in man’s life go on and on. The horse was used for food, herding, warfare, transportation, communication, agriculture, trade, commerce, pleasure, sport, religion, symbol, status, gift, industry, competition, and recreation. This is to say nothing about its significant role in the transfer of language, culture, and technology that resulted with the increased mobility the horse offered to man.”

“The horse has had an impact on the world — everywhere [he] went and on every aspect of life.”

(If you have the time read the entirety of this fascinating article quoted from above, or bookmark it for reading later).

Before the automobile

Most of us have lived in the automobile age.

Before the invention of the automobile, lest we forget, horses were employed to pull just about everything imaginable — from traps and carriages for journeys cross country to short journeys in towns and cities, from delivery wagons to fire wagons and horse drawn ambulances, and of course ploughs on farms.

Horse drawn fire wagon.
Horse drawn fire wagon. From http://justacarguy.blogspot.com/
1900s fire wagon from HallofFlame.org.
Horse Drawn St. John’s Ambulance c. 1901. From Emergency Life on Twitter.
Farmers of America have forgotten who brung 'em here and built the foundation of their, ahem, fortunes. We gotta kill 'em and let the poor folk eat
Farmers of America have forgotten who brung ’em here and built the foundation of their fortunes. Wikipedia.

What about today?

The Horse magazine writes in “Horses at Work: Lifestyles of Work Horses“:

“There are many roles that working horses fill in today’s world: police horses, border patrol, military horses, carriage horses, pack mules/horses, dude string horses, and ranch horses, to name a few. Horses that plow, heal, or protect have distinctly different lifestyles than the average riding horse.” Read more »

Give thanks

From the moment humans encountered and captured horses, they have been used to labor for us, whether directly or indirectly. Where would we be without them?

This Labor Day let us remember and give enormous thanks for the horse.

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