Man established a relationship with the horse about 50,000 years ago. At first people hunted horses, which wasn’t very easy, then they learned to herd these animals, and kept them mainly for meat, possibly also for milk, but it is likely that the horses were also used to carry things when people had to move from one place to another. The horse was becoming a worker — a source of help to man — not just a meal on the hoof.
Most scientists think that the first horses were used to pull carts, not for riding. But people finally mounted the horse. And suddenly they could travel long distances, explore unknown lands — and conquer them! People quickly realized how useful the horse could be in war. Oxen and donkeys, although much calmer than horses, could not come even close to the horse on the ancient battlefield.
Gradually horses became associated with power and wealth. Oxen and donkeys were for working people, horses were the privilege of the rich.
It is the ordinary workhorse, however, that had the biggest influence on human history. People managed to breed strong and heavy horses to carry goods.
Certainly, horses were no match for modern engines. But 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.
People quickly realized that the horse could be used for entertainment. 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. Horses continue to attract us. They capture our imagination — and our hearts.