Some zoologists define “domestication” as human control over breeding, which can be detected in ancient skeletal samples by changes in the size and variability of ancient horse populations. Other researchers look at the broader evidence, including skeletal and dental evidence of working activity; weapons, art, and spiritual artifacts; and lifestyle patterns of human cultures.
Attempts to date domestication by genetic study or analysis of physical remains rests on the assumption that there was a separation of the genotypes of domesticated and wild populations. Such a separation appears to have taken place, but dates based on such methods can only produce an estimate of the latest possible date for domestication without excluding the possibility of an unknown period of earlier gene-flow between wild and domestic populations (which will occur naturally as long as the domesticated population is kept within the habitat of the wild population).
Further, all modern horse populations retain the ability to revert to a feral state, and all feral horses are of domestic types; that is, they descend from ancestors that escaped from captivity. Whether one adopts the narrower zoological definition of domestication or the broader cultural definition that rests on an array of zoological and archaeological evidence affects the time frame chosen for domestication of the horse.
The date of 4000 BCE is based on evidence that includes the appearance of dental pathologies associated with batting, changes in butchering practices, changes in human economies and settlement patterns, the depiction of horses as symbols of power in artifacts, and the appearance of horse bones in human graves. On the other hand, measurable changes in size and increases in variability associated with domestication occurred later, about 2500–2000 BCE, as seen in horse remains found at the site of Csepel-Haros in Hungary, a settlement of the Bell Beaker culture.
Replica of a horse painting from a cave in Lascaux 2005 study analyzed the mitochondrial DNA (mt DNA) of a worldwide range of equips, from 53,000-year-old fossils to contemporary horses. Their analysis placed all equips into a single clade, or group with a single common ancestor, consisting of three genetically divergent species: Hippidion, the New World stilt-legged horse, and Equus, the true horse.
The true horse migrated from the Americas to Eurasia via Bering, becoming broadly distributed from North America to Central Europe, north and south of Pleistocene ice sheets. These horses showed little phylogeographic structure, probably reflecting their high degree of mobility and adaptability.
Therefore, the domestic horse today is classified as Equus ferns Catullus. No genetic originals of native wild horses currently exist.
The Przewalski diverged from the modern horse prior to domestication. It has 66 chromosomes, as opposed to 64 among modern domesticated horses, and their Mitochondrial DNA (mt DNA) forms a distinct cluster.
Genetic evidence suggests that modern Przewalski's horses are descended from a distinct regional gene pool in the eastern part of the Eurasian steppes, not from the same genetic group that gave rise to modern domesticated horses. Nevertheless, evidence such as the cave paintings of Lascaux suggests that the ancient wild horses that some researchers now label the “Tarzan subtype” probably resembled Przewalski horses in their general appearance: big heads, dun coloration, thick necks, stiff upright manes, and relatively short, stout legs.
Equus Catullus Germanic front leg, teeth and upper jaw at the Museum fur Naturkunde, Berlin horses of the Ice Age were hunted for meat in Europe and across the Eurasian steppes and in North America by early modern humans. Numerous kill sites exist and many cave paintings in Europe indicate what they looked like.
Many of these Ice Age subspecies died out during the rapid climate changes associated with the end of the last Ice Age or were hunted out by humans, particularly in North America, where the horse became completely extinct. Classification based on body types and conformation, absent the availability of DNA for research, once suggested that there were roughly four basic wild prototypes, thought to have developed with adaptations to their environment prior to domestication.
However, more recent study indicates that there was only one wild species and all different body types were entirely a result of selective breeding or land race adaptation after domestication. The “Warm blood subspecies” or Forest Horse (once proposed as Equus ferns silvaticus, also known as the Alluvial Horse), which evolved into a later variety sometimes called Equus ferns Germanic.
The “Draft” subspecies, a small, sturdy, heavyset animal with a heavy hair coat, arising in Northern Europe, adapted to cold, damp climates, somewhat resembling today's draft horse and even the Shetland pony. The Oriental subspecies (once proposed as Equus Giles), a taller, slim, refined and agile animal arising in Western Asia, adapted to hot, dry climates.
Although researchers such as Maria Gimbals theorized that the horses of the Paleolithic period were Przewalski's, more recent genetic studies indicate that Przewalski's horse is not an ancestor to modern domesticated horses. Other now-extinct subspecies of Equus ferns appears to have been the stock from which domesticated horses are descended.
The early stages of domestication were marked by a rapid increase in coat color variation. A 2014 study compared DNA from ancient horse bones that predated domestication and compared them to DNA of modern horses, discovering 125 genes that correlated to domestication.
Some were physical, affecting muscle and limb development, cardiac strength and balance. Others were linked to cognitive function and most likely were critical to the taming of the horse, including social behavior, learning capabilities, fear response, and agreeableness.
The DNA used in this study came from horse bones 16,000 to 43,000 years ago, and therefore the precise changes that occurred at the time of domestication have yet to be sequenced. The domestication of stallions and mares can be analyzed separately by looking at those portions of the DNA that are passed on exclusively along the maternal (mitochondrial DNA or mt DNA) or paternal line (Y-chromosome or Y-DNA).
DNA studies indicate that there may have been multiple domestication events for mares, as the number of female lines required to account for the genetic diversity of the modern horse suggests a minimum of 77 different ancestral mares, divided into 17 distinct lineages. A study published in 2012 that performed genomic sampling on 300 work horses from local areas as well as a review of previous studies of archaeology, mitochondrial DNA, and Y-DNA suggested that horses were originally domesticated in the western part of the Eurasian steppe.
Most other parts of the world were ruled out as sites for horse domestication, either due to climate unsuitable for an indigenous wild horse population or no evidence of domestication. Genes located in the mitochondrial DNA are passed on along the maternal line from the mother to her offspring.
Multiple analyses of the mitochondrial DNA obtained from modern horses as well as from horse bones and teeth from archaeological and pathological finds consistently shows an increased genetic diversity in the mitochondrial DNA compared to the remaining DNA, showing that many mares has been included into the breeding stock of the originally domesticated horse. A haplogroup is a group of closely related haplotypes that share the same common ancestor.
Several haplogroups are unequally distributed around the world, indicating the addition of local wild mares to the domesticated stock. One of these haplotypes (Luciano group C) is exclusively found in the Iberian Peninsula, leading to a hypothesis that the Iberian Peninsula or North Africa was an independent origin for domestication of the horse.
However, until there is additional analysis of nuclear DNA and a better understanding of the genetic structure of the earliest domestic herds, this theory cannot be confirmed or refuted. It remains possible that a second, independent, domestication site might exist but, as of 2012, research has neither confirmed nor disproven that hypothesis.
Even though horse domestication became widespread in a short period of time, it is still possible that domestication began with a single culture, which passed on techniques and breeding stock. It is possible that the two “wild” subspecies remained when all other groups of once-”wild” horses died out because all others had been, perhaps, more suitable for taming by humans and the selective breeding that gave rise to the modern domestic horse.
The least ancient, but most persuasive, evidence of domestication comes from sites where horse leg bones and skulls, probably originally attached to hides, were interred with the remains of chariots in at least 16 graves of the Sintashta and Petrov cultures. These were located in the steppes southeast of the Ural Mountains, between the upper Ural and upper Tool Rivers, a region today divided between southern Russia and northern Kazakhstan.
Evidence of chariots in these graves was inferred from the impressions of two spoked wheels set in grave floors 1.2–1.6 m apart; in most cases the rest of the vehicle left no trace. In addition, a pair of disk-shaped antler “cheek pieces,” an ancient predecessor to a modern bit shank or bit ring, were placed in pairs beside each horse head-and-hoof sacrifice.
The inner faces of the disks had protruding prongs or studs that would have pressed against the horse's lips when the reins were pulled on the opposite side. Studded cheek pieces were a new and fairly severe kind of control device that appeared simultaneously with chariots.
All the dated chariot graves contained wheel impressions, horse bones, weapons (arrow and javelin points, axes, daggers, or stone mace-heads), human skeletal remains, and cheek pieces. Because they were buried in teams of two with chariots and studded cheek pieces, the evidence is extremely persuasive that these steppe horses of 2100–1700 BCE were domesticated.
In the space of possibly 500 years, there is evidence of horse-drawn chariots in Greece, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. Some researchers do not consider an animal to be domesticated until it exhibits physical changes consistent with selective breeding, or at least having been born and raised entirely in captivity.
Those who hold to this theory of domestication point to a change in skeletal measurements detected among horse bones recovered from middens dated about 2500 BCE in eastern Hungary in Bell-Beaker sites, and in later Bronze Age sites in the Russian steppes, Spain, and Eastern Europe. Horse bones from these contexts exhibited an increase in variability, thought to reflect the survival under human care of both larger and smaller individuals than appeared in the wild; and a decrease in average size, thought to reflect penning and restriction in diet.
Horse populations that showed this combination of skeletal changes probably were domesticated. Most evidence suggests that horses were increasingly controlled by humans after about 2500 BCE.
However, more recently there have been skeletal remains found at a site in Kazakhstan which display the smaller, more slender limbs characteristic of corralled animals, dated to 3500 BCE. Some of the most intriguing evidence of early domestication comes from the Bowie culture, found in northern Kazakhstan.
The Bowie culture was a culture of foragers who seem to have adopted horseback riding in order to hunt the abundant wild horses of northern Kazakhstan between 3500–3000 BCE. Bowie sites had no cattle or sheep bones; the only domesticated animals, in addition to horses, were dogs.
Bowie settlements in this period contained between 50–150 pit houses. Garbage deposits contained tens to hundreds of thousands of discarded animal bones, 65% to 99% of which had come from horses.
Earlier hunter-gatherers who lived in the same region had not hunted wild horses with such success, and lived for millennia in smaller, more shifting settlements, often containing less than 200 wild animal bones. Entire herds of horses were slaughtered by the Bowie hunters, apparently in hunting drives.
The adoption of horseback riding might explain the emergence of specialized horse-hunting techniques and larger, more permanent settlements. Domesticated horses could have been adopted from neighboring herding societies in the steppes west of the Ural Mountains, where the Khvalynsk culture had herds of cattle and sheep, and perhaps had domesticated horses, as early as 4800 BCE.
As evidence, they note that zoologists have found no skeletal changes in the Bowie horses that indicate domestication. Moreover, because they were hunted for food, the majority of the horse remains found in Botai-culture settlements indeed probably were wild.
On the other hand, any domesticated riding horses were probably the same size as their wild cousins and cannot now be distinguished by bone measurements. They also note that the age structure of the horses slaughtered at Bowie represents a natural demographic profile for hunted animals, not the pattern expected if they were domesticated and selected for slaughter.
However, these arguments were published prior to the discovery of a corral at Rainy YAR and mats of horse-dung at two other Bowie sites. A study in 2018 revealed that the Bowie horses did not contribute significantly to the genetics of modern domesticated horses, and that therefore a subsequent and separate domestication event must have been responsible for the modern domestic horse.
The presence of bit wear is an indicator that a horse was ridden or driven, and the earliest of such evidence from a site in Kazakhstan dates to 3500 BCE. The absence of bit wear on horse teeth is not conclusive evidence against domestication because horses can be ridden and controlled without bits by using a nose band or a sycamore, but such materials do not produce significant physiological changes nor are they apt to be preserved for millennia.
The regular use of a bit to control a horse can create wear facets or bevels on the anterior corners of the lower second premolars. The bit must be manipulated by a human or the horse must move it with its tongue for it to touch the teeth.
Wear can be caused by the bit abrading the front corners of the premolars if the horse grasps and releases the bit between its teeth ; other wear can be created by the bit striking the vertical front edge of the lower premolars, due to very strong pressure from a human handler. Modern experiments showed that even organic bits of rope or leather can create significant wear facets, and also showed that facets 3 mm (.118 in) deep or more do not appear on the premolars of wild horses.
The Bowie culture premolars are the earliest reported multiple examples of this dental pathology in any archaeological site, and preceded any skeletal change indicators by 1,000 years. While wear facets more than 3 mm deep were discovered on the lower second premolars of a single stallion from Daria in Ukraine, an Neolithic settlement dated about 4000 BCE, dental material from one of the worn teeth later produced a radiocarbon date of 700–200 BCE, indicating that this stallion was actually deposited in a pit dug into the older Neolithic site during the Iron Age.
Soil scientists working with Sandra Olsen of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History at the Paleolithic (also called Neolithic, or “Copper Age”) settlements of Bowie and Rainy YAR in northern Kazakhstan found layers of horse dung, discarded in unused house pits in both settlements. An actual corral, dated to 3500–3000 BCE was identified at Rainy YAR by a pattern of post holes for a circular fence, with the soils inside the fence yielding ten times more phosphorus than the soils outside.
The appearance of horse remains in human settlements in regions where they had not previously been present is another indicator of domestication. Although images of horses appear as early as the Upper Paleolithic period in places such as the caves of Lascaux, France, suggesting that wild horses lived in regions outside the Eurasian steppes prior to domestication and may have even been hunted by early humans, concentration of remains suggests animals being deliberately captured and contained, an indicator of domestication, at least for food, if not necessarily use as a working animal.
Around 3500–3000 BCE, horse bones began to appear more frequently in archaeological sites beyond their center of distribution in the Eurasian steppes and were seen in Central Europe, the middle and lower Danube valley, and the North Caucasus and Transcaucasia. This expansion in range was contemporary with the Bowie culture, where there are indications that horses were corralled and ridden.
This geographic expansion is interpreted by many zoologists as an early phase in the spread of domesticated horses. European wild horses were hunted for up to 10% of the animal bones in a handful of Mesolithic and Neolithic settlements scattered across Spain, France, and the marshlands of northern Germany, but in many other parts of Europe, including Greece, the Balkans, the British Isles, and much of Central Europe, horse bones do not occur or occur very rarely in Mesolithic, Neolithic or Paleolithic sites.
In contrast, wild horse bones regularly exceeded 40% of the identified animal bones in Mesolithic and Neolithic camps in the Eurasian steppes, west of the Ural Mountains. Horse bones were rare or absent in Neolithic and Paleolithic kitchen garbage in western Turkey, Mesopotamia, most of Iran, South and Central Asia, and much of Europe.
Managers were the most common native wild equips of the Near East. They were hunted in Syria, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Iran, and Central Asia; and domesticated asses (Equus sinus) were imported into Mesopotamia, probably from Egypt, but wild horses apparently did not live there.
Other evidence of geographic expansion In Northern Caucasus, the Markup culture settlements and burials of c. 3300 BC contain both horse bones and images of horses. A frieze of nineteen horses painted in black and red colors is found in one of the Markup graves.
Later, images of horses, identified by their short ears, flowing manes, and tails that bushed out at the dock, began to appear in artistic media in Mesopotamia during the Akkadian period, 2300–2100 BCE. The word for “horse”, literally translated as ass of the mountains, first appeared in Sumerian documents during the Third dynasty of Ur, about 2100–2000 BCE.
Horses were imported into Mesopotamia and the lowland Near East in larger numbers after 2000 BCE in connection with the beginning of chariot warfare. A further expansion, into the lowland Near East and northwestern China, also happened around 2000 BCE, again apparently in conjunction with the chariot.
Although Equus bones of uncertain species are found in some Late Neolithic sites in China dated before 2000 BCE, Equus Catullus or Equus ferns bones first appeared in multiple sites and in significant numbers in sites of the Fiji and SBA cultures, 2000–1600 BCE, in Gansu and the northwestern provinces of China. The Fiji culture was in contact with cultures of the Eurasian steppes, as shown through similarities between Fiji and Late Bronze Age steppe metallurgy, so it was probably through these contacts that domesticated horses first became frequent in northwestern China.
In 2008, archaeologists announced the discovery of rock art in Somalia's northern Champlain region, which the researchers suggest is one of the earliest known depictions of a hunter on horseback. About 4200-4000 BCE, more than 500 years before the geographic expansion evidenced by the presence of horse bones, new kinds of graves, named after a grave at Suvorovo, appeared north of the Danube delta in the coastal steppes of Ukraine near Ismail.
Suvorovo graves were similar to and probably derived from earlier funeral traditions in the steppes around the Deeper River. Earlier steppe graves also had contained polished stone mace-heads, some of them carved in the shape of animal heads.
Settlements in the steppes contemporary with Suvorovo, such as Sedna Stop II and Daria on the Deeper River, contained 12–52% horse bones. When Suvorovo graves appeared in the Danube delta grasslands, horse-head maces also appeared in some indigenous farming towns of the Triple and Gumelnitsa cultures in present-day Romania and Moldova, near the Suvorovo graves.
These agricultural cultures had not previously used polished-stone maces, and horse bones were rare or absent in their settlement sites. The Suvorovo people in turn acquired many copper ornaments from the Triple and Gumelnitsa towns.
After this episode of contact and trade, but still during the period 4200–4000 BCE, about 600 agricultural towns in the Balkans and the lower Danube valley, some of which had been occupied for 2000 years, were abandoned. Copper mining ceased in the Balkan copper mines, and the cultural traditions associated with the agricultural towns were terminated in the Balkans and the lower Danube valley.
This collapse of “Old Europe” has been attributed to the immigration of mounted Indo-European warriors. The collapse could have been caused by intensified warfare, for which there is some evidence; and warfare could have been worsened by mounted raiding; and the horse-head maces have been interpreted as indicating the introduction of domesticated horses and riding just before the collapse.
Environmental deterioration, ecological degradation from millennia of farming, and the exhaustion of easily mined oxide copper ores also are cited as causal factors. Perforated antler objects discovered at Daria and other sites contemporary with Suvorovo have been identified as cheek pieces or saliva for horse bits.
This identification is no longer widely accepted, as the objects in question have not been found associated with horse bones, and could have had a variety of other functions. The oldest possible archaeological indicator of a changed relationship between horses and humans is the appearance about 4800–4400 BCE of horse bones and carved images of horses in Paleolithic graves of the early Khvalynsk culture and the Samara culture in the middle Volga region of Russia.
Of these, 26 graves contained parts of sacrificed domestic animals, and additional sacrifices occurred in ritual deposits on the original ground surface above the graves. At S'yeah, a contemporary cemetery of the Samara culture, parts of two horses were placed above a group of human graves.
Horse images carved from bone were placed in the above-ground ocher deposit at S’yeah and occurred at several other sites of the same period in the middle and lower Volga region. Together these archaeological clues suggest that horses had a symbolic importance in the Khvalynsk and Samara cultures that they had lacked earlier, and that they were associated with humans, domesticated cattle, and domesticated sheep.
Thus, the earliest phase in the domestication of the horse might have begun during the period 4800-4400 BCE. Equine died out in the Western Hemisphere at the end of the last glacial period.
A question raised is why and how horses avoided this fate on the Eurasian continent. While the environmental conditions for equine survival in Europe were somewhat more favorable in Eurasia than in the Americas, the same stressors that led to extinction for the Mammoth had an effect upon horse populations.
Thus, some time after 8000 BCE, the approximate date of extinction in the Americas, humans in Eurasia may have begun to keep horses as a livestock food source, and by keeping them in captivity, may have helped to preserve the species. Horses also fit the six core criteria for livestock domestication, and thus, it could be argued, “chose” to live in proximity to humans.
Horses behave as herd animals and need companionship to thrive. Both historic and modern data shows that foals can and will bond to humans and other domestic animals to meet their social needs.
It has been noted that traditional peoples worldwide (both hunter-gatherers and horticulturists) routinely tame individuals from wild species, typically by hand-rearing infants whose parents have been killed, and these animals are not necessarily domesticated.” On the other hand, some researchers look to examples from historical times to hypothesize how domestication occurred.
For example, while Native American cultures captured and rode horses from the 16th century onwards, most tribes did not exert significant control over their breeding, thus their horses developed a genotype and phenotype adapted to the uses and climatological conditions in which they were kept, making them more of a land race than a planned breed as defined by modern standards, but nonetheless domesticated “. A bit wear may correlate to riding, though, as the modern sycamore demonstrates, horses can be ridden without a bit by using rope and other evanescent materials to make equipment that fastens around the nose.
So the absence of unequivocal evidence of early riding in the record does not settle the question. Thus, on one hand, logic suggests that horses would have been ridden long before they were driven.
Some theorists speculate that a horse could have been controlled from the ground by placing a bit in the mouth, connected to a lead rope, and leading the animal while pulling a primitive wagon or plow. Since oxen were usually relegated to this duty in Mesopotamia, it is possible that early plows might have been attempted with the horse, and a bit may indeed have been significant as part of agrarian development rather than as warfare technology.
While riding may have been practiced during the 4th and 3rd millennia BCE, and the disappearance of “Old European” settlements may be related to attacks by horseback-mounted warriors, the clearest influence by horses on ancient warfare was by pulling chariots, introduced around 2000 BCE. Horses in the Bronze Age were relatively small by modern standards, which led some theorists to believe the ancient horses were too small to be ridden and so must have been driven.
Herodotus' description of the Signal, a steppe people who bred horses too small to ride but extremely efficient at drawing chariots, illustrates this stage. However, as horses remained generally smaller than modern equines well into the Middle Ages, this theory is highly questionable.
The horse of the Iron Age was still relatively small, perhaps 12.2 to 14.2 hands (50 to 58 inches, 127 to 147 cm) high (measured at the withers.) This was shorter overall than the average height of modern riding horses, which range from about 14.2 to 17.2 hands (58 to 70 inches, 147 to 178 cm).
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^ “Early Attempts at Riding: The Soft Bit and Bridle”. Domestication is the process by which humans take wild species and acclimatize them to breeding and surviving in captivity.
In many cases, domesticated animals serve some purpose for humans (food source, labor, companionship). It is thought that the horses depicted in the Paleolithic cave paintings were hunted for their meat by humans.
Evidence from mitochondrial DNA studies suggests that the domestication of horses occurred in multiple locations and at various times. The modern domesticated horse (Equus Catullus) is today spread throughout the world and among the most diverse creatures on the planet.
The earliest possible hints for domestication would be the presence of what appears to be a set of post molds with lots of animal dung within the area defined by the posts, which scholars interpret as representing a horse pen. That evidence has been found at Rainy YAR in Kazakhstan, in portions of the site dating to as early as 3600 BC.
At least 77 wild mares would be required to explain the diversity of the mitochondrial DNA (mt DNA) in current horse populations, which probably means quite a few more. In a paper published in Science in 2009, Alan K. Outran and colleagues looked at three strands of evidence supporting horse domestication at Bowie culture sites: shin-bones, milk consumption, and bittier.
These stallions are all of Arab, Barb and Turk origin; their descendants are from one of only 74 British and imported mares. In 2013, researchers led by Ludovic Orlando and ESE Wellesley of the Center for Genetics, Natural History Museum of Denmark and University of Copenhagen (and reported in Orlando et al. 2013) reported on a metaphorical horse fossil which had been found in permafrost within a Middle Pleistocene context in the Yukon territory of Canada and dated between 560,00-780,000 years ago.
Amazingly, the researchers found that there were sufficiently intact molecules of collagen within the matrix of the bone to enable them to map the Thistle Creek horse's genome. Further, using the Thistle Creek DNA as a baseline, they were able to determine that all modern existing equips (donkeys, horses, and zebras) originated from a common ancestor some 4-4.5 million years ago.
Now that horses are no longer needed for transportation and farm work, they are often regarded as companion animals. The ASPCA also specifies “species suitable to be companion animals include dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, ferrets, birds, guinea pigs, and select other small mammals, small reptiles and fish.
The Missouri Horse Council maintains that horses are livestock and “supports the legal definition of all domesticated equines to remain as livestock and opposes the current social trend of referring to them as pets or companion animals.” This is a stance taken by many similar associations in the United States and Canada. Those who make their living as trainers, breeders, dealers and running boarding stables and schools may lose the benefit of being an agricultural endeavor if a horse were regarded solely as a companion animal.
A good deal of research into equine diseases, vaccines and husbandry is government funded. Husbandry and humane treatment laws might not apply if horses were designated companion animals.
Many states are passing limited liability laws, which protect livestock owners and livestock event organizers (like cattle and horse shows) from lawsuits from anyone who is injured by a potentially large and dangerous animal such as a cattle-beast or horse. Considering that most of us do regard our horses not just as companions, but family members, our ultimate goal should be the best possible care, in addition to protecting ourselves.
Horse Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Mammalian Order: Perissodactyla Family: Equine Genus: Equus Species: Subspecies: Trinomial name Equus ferns Catullus Synonyms The horse (Equus ferns Catullus) is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferns. It is an odd-toed ungulate mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equine.
The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature, Phipps, into the large, single-toed animal of today. Horses in the subspecies Catullus are domesticated, although some domesticated populations live in the wild as feral horses.
There is an extensive, specialized vocabulary used to describe equine-related concepts, covering everything from anatomy to life stages, size, colors, markings, breeds, locomotion, and behavior. Horses are adapted to run, allowing them to quickly escape predators, possessing an excellent sense of balance and a strong fight-or-flight response.
Related to this need to flee from predators in the wild is an unusual trait: horses are able to sleep both standing up and lying down, with younger horses tending to sleep significantly more than adults. Female horses, called mares, carry their young for approximately 11 months, and a young horse, called a foal, can stand and run shortly following birth.
Most domesticated horses begin training under a saddle or in a harness between the ages of two and four. They reach full adult development by age five, and have an average lifespan of between 25 and 30 years.
Horse breeds are loosely divided into three categories based on general temperament: spirited “hot bloods” with speed and endurance; “cold bloods”, such as draft horses and some ponies, suitable for slow, heavy work; and warm bloods “, developed from crosses between hot bloods and cold bloods, often focusing on creating breeds for specific riding purposes, particularly in Europe. There are more than 300 breeds of horse in the world today, developed for many uses.
Horses and humans interact in a wide variety of sport competitions and non-competitive recreational pursuits, as well as in working activities such as police work, agriculture, entertainment, and therapy. Horses were historically used in warfare, from which a wide variety of riding and driving techniques developed, using many styles of equipment and methods of control.
Many products are derived from horses, including meat, milk, hide, hair, bone, and pharmaceuticals extracted from the urine of pregnant mares. Humans provide domesticated horses with food, water, and shelter, as well as attention from specialists such as veterinarians and farriers.
Specific terms and specialized language are used to describe equine anatomy, different life stages, and colors and breeds. Depending on breed, management and environment, the modern domestic horse has a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years.
The oldest verifiable record was Old Billy “, a 19th-century horse that lived to the age of 62. In modern times, Sugar Puff, who had been listed in Guinness World Records as the world's oldest living pony, died in 2007 at age 56.
Regardless of a horse or pony's actual birthdate, for most competition purposes a year is added to its age each January 1 of each year in the Northern Hemisphere and each August 1 in the Southern Hemisphere. The exception is in endurance riding, where the minimum age to compete is based on the animal's actual calendar age.
The following terminology is used to describe horses of various ages: Most domesticated foals are weaned at five to seven months of age, although foals can be weaned at four months with no adverse physical effects.
Colt : A male horse under the age of four. A common terminology error is to call any young horse a “colt”, when the term actually only refers to young male horses.
Stallion : A non-castrated male horse four years old and older. The term “horse” is sometimes used colloquially to refer specifically to a stallion.
Gelding : A castrated male horse of any age. In horse racing, these definitions may differ: For example, in the British Isles, Thoroughbred horse racing defines colts and fillies as less than five years old.
However, Australian Thoroughbred racing defines colts and fillies as less than four years old. The height of horses is measured at the highest point of the withers, where the neck meets the back.
This point is used because it is a stable point of the anatomy, unlike the head or neck, which move up and down in relation to the body of the horse. In English-speaking countries, the height of horses is often stated in units of hands and inches: one hand is equal to 4 inches (101.6 mm).
The height is expressed as the number of full hands, followed by a point, then the number of additional inches, and ending with the abbreviation “h” or “HH” (for “hands high”). Light riding horses usually range in height from 14 to 16 hands (56 to 64 inches, 142 to 163 cm) and can weigh from 380 to 550 kilograms (840 to 1,210 lb).
Larger riding horses usually start at about 15.2 hands (62 inches, 157 cm) and often are as tall as 17 hands (68 inches, 173 cm), weighing from 500 to 600 kilograms (1,100 to 1,320 lb). Heavy or draft horses are usually at least 16 hands (64 inches, 163 cm) high and can be as tall as 18 hands (72 inches, 183 cm) high.
He stood 21.2 1 4 hands (86.25 inches, 219 cm) high and his peak weight was estimated at 1,524 kilograms (3,360 lb). The current record holder for the world's smallest horse is Tumbling, a fully mature miniature horse affected by dwarfism.
She is 17 in (43 cm) tall and weighs 57 lb (26 kg). The distinction between a horse and pony is commonly drawn on the basis of height, especially for competition purposes.
However, height alone is not dispositive; the difference between horses and ponies may also include aspects of phenotype, including conformation and temperament. The traditional standard for height of a horse or a pony at maturity is 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm).
An animal 14.2 h or over is usually considered to be a horse and one less than 14.2 h a pony, but there are many exceptions to the traditional standard. In Australia, ponies are considered to be those under 14 hands (56 inches, 142 cm).
For competition in the Western division of the United States Equestrian Federation, the cutoff is 14.1 hands (57 inches, 145 cm). The International Federation for Equestrian Sports, the world governing body for horse sport, uses metric measurements and defines a pony as being any horse measuring less than 148 centimeters (58.27 in) at the withers without shoes, which is just over 14.2 h, and 149 centimeters (58.66 in), or just over 14.2 1 2 h, with shoes.
Height is not the sole criterion for distinguishing horses from ponies. Breed registries for horses that typically produce individuals both under and over 14.2 h consider all animals of that breed to be horses regardless of their height.
Conversely, some pony breeds may have features in common with horses, and individual animals may occasionally mature at over 14.2 h, but are still considered to be ponies. Ponies often exhibit thicker manes, tails, and overall coat.
They also have proportionally shorter legs, wider barrels, heavier bone, shorter and thicker necks, and short heads with broad foreheads. They may have calmer temperaments than horses and also a high level of intelligence that may or may not be used to cooperate with human handlers.
Small size, by itself, is not an exclusive determinant. Conversely, breeds such as the Flagella and other miniature horses, which can be no taller than 30 inches (76 cm), are classified by their registries as very small horses, not ponies.
Bay (left) and chestnut (sometimes called “sorrel”) are two of the most common coat colors, seen in almost all breeds. Horses exhibit a diverse array of coat colors and distinctive markings, described by a specialized vocabulary.
Often, a horse is classified first by its coat color, before breed or sex. Horses of the same color may be distinguished from one another by white markings, which, along with various spotting patterns, are inherited separately from coat color.
Many genes that create horse coat colors and patterns have been identified. Current genetic tests can identify at least 13 different alleles influencing coat color, and research continues to discover new genes linked to specific traits.
The basic coat colors of chestnut and black are determined by the gene controlled by the Melanocortin 1 receptor, also known as the “extension gene” or “red factor,” as its recessive form is “red” (chestnut) and its dominant form is black. Additional genes control suppression of black color to point coloration that results in a bay, spotting patterns such as pinto or leopard, dilution genes such as palomino or dun, as well as graying, and all the other factors that create the many possible coat colors found in horses.
Grays are born a darker shade, get lighter as they age, but usually keep black skin underneath their white hair coat (except pink skin under white markings). The only horses properly called white are born with a predominantly white hair coat and pink skin, a fairly rare occurrence.
Different and unrelated genetic factors can produce white coat colors in horses, including several alleles of dominant white and the sabino-1 gene. However, there are no albino horses, defined as having both pink skin and red eyes.
Gestation lasts approximately 340 days, with an average range 320–370 days, and usually results in one foal ; twins are rare. Horses are a precocity species, and foals are capable of standing and running within a short time following birth.
The estrous cycle of a mare occurs roughly every 19–22 days and occurs from early spring into autumn. Foals are generally weaned from their mothers between four and six months of age.
Horses, particularly colts, sometimes are physically capable of reproduction at about 18 months, but domesticated horses are rarely allowed to breed before the age of three, especially females. Horses four years old are considered mature, although the skeleton normally continues to develop until the age of six; maturation also depends on the horse's size, breed, sex, and quality of care.
These plates convert after the other parts of the bones, and are crucial to development. Depending on maturity, breed, and work expected, horses are usually put under saddle and trained to be ridden between the ages of two and four.
Although Thoroughbred race horses are put on the track as young as the age of two in some countries, horses specifically bred for sports such as dressage are generally not put under saddle until they are three or four years old, because their bones and muscles are not solidly developed. For endurance riding competition, horses are not deemed mature enough to compete until they are a full 60 calendar months (five years) old.
The horse's four legs and hooves are also unique structures. Their leg bones are proportioned differently from those of a human.
For example, the body part that is called a horse's “knee” is actually made up of the carpal bones that correspond to the human wrist. Similarly, the hock contains bones equivalent to those in the human ankle and heel.
The lower leg bones of a horse correspond to the bones of the human hand or foot, and the fetlock (incorrectly called the “ankle”) is actually the proximal sesamoid bones between the cannon bones (a single equivalent to the human metacarpal or metatarsal bones) and the proximal phalanges, located where one finds the “knuckles” of a human. A horse also has no muscles in its legs below the knees and hocks, only skin, hair, bone, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and the assorted specialized tissues that make up the hoof.
Hooves The critical importance of the feet and legs is summed up by the traditional adage, “no foot, no horse”. The horse hoof begins with the distal phalanges, the equivalent of the human fingertip or tip of the toe, surrounded by cartilage and other specialized, blood-rich soft tissues such as the laminae.
The exterior hoof wall and horn of the sole is made of keratin, the same material as a human fingernail. The end result is that a horse, weighing on average 500 kilograms (1,100 lb), travels on the same bones as would a human on tiptoe.
For the protection of the hoof under certain conditions, some horses have horseshoes placed on their feet by a professional farrier. The hoof continually grows, and in most domesticated horses needs to be trimmed (and horseshoes reset, if used) every five to eight weeks, though the hooves of horses in the wild wear down and regrow at a rate suitable for their terrain.
In an adult horse, there are 12 incisors at the front of the mouth, adapted to biting off the grass or other vegetation. There are 24 teeth adapted for chewing, the premolars and molars, at the back of the mouth.
Stallions and geldings have four additional teeth just behind the incisors, a type of canine teeth called “tushes”. Some horses, both male and female, will also develop one to four very small vestigial teeth in front of the molars, known as “wolf” teeth, which are generally removed because they can interfere with the bit.
There is an empty interdental space between the incisors and the molars where the bit rests directly on the gums, or “bars” of the horse's mouth when the horse is bridled. An estimate of a horse's age can be made from looking at its teeth.
The teeth continue to erupt throughout life and are worn down by grazing. Therefore, the incisors show changes as the horse ages; they develop a distinct wear pattern, changes in tooth shape, and changes in the angle at which the chewing surfaces meet.
This allows a very rough estimate of a horse's age, although diet and veterinary care can also affect the rate of tooth wear. Digestion Horses are herbivores with a digestive system adapted to a forage diet of grasses and other plant material, consumed steadily throughout the day.
Therefore, compared to humans, they have a relatively small stomach but very long intestines to facilitate a steady flow of nutrients. A 450-kilogram (990 lb) horse will eat 7 to 11 kilograms (15 to 24 lb) of food per day and, under normal use, drink 38 to 45 liters (8.4 to 9.9 imp gal; 10 to 12 US gal) of water.
Horses are not ruminants, they have only one stomach, like humans, but unlike humans, they can utilize cellulose, a major component of grass. Cellulose fermentation by symbiotic bacteria occurs in the cecum, or “water gut”, which food goes through before reaching the large intestine.
Horses cannot vomit, so digestion problems can quickly cause colic, a leading cause of death. Senses The horses senses are based on their status as prey animals, where they must be aware of their surroundings at all times.
Their sense of smell, while much better than that of humans, is not quite as good as that of a dog. It is believed to play a key role in the social interactions of horses as well as detecting other key scents in the environment.
The first system is in the nostrils and nasal cavity, which analyze a wide range of odors. These have a separate nerve pathway to the brain and appear to primarily analyze pheromones.
A horse's hearing is good, and the Penna of each ear can rotate up to 180°, giving the potential for 360° hearing without having to move the head. Noise impacts the behavior of horses and certain kinds of noise may contribute to stress: A 2013 study in the UK indicated that stabled horses were calmest in a quiet setting, or if listening to country or classical music, but displayed signs of nervousness when listening to jazz or rock music.
This study also recommended keeping music under a volume of 21 decibels. An Australian study found that stabled racehorses listening to talk radio had a higher rate of gastric ulcers than horses listening to music, and racehorses stabled where a radio was played had a higher overall rate of ulceration than horses stabled where there was no radio playing.
Horses are able to sense contact as subtle as an insect landing anywhere on the body. Horses have an advanced sense of taste, which allows them to sort through fodder and choose what they would most like to eat, and their prehensile lips can easily sort even small grains.
Horses generally will not eat poisonous plants, however, there are exceptions; horses will occasionally eat toxic amounts of poisonous plants even when there is adequate healthy food. All horses move naturally with four basic gaits : the four-beat walk, which averages 6.4 kilometers per hour (4.0 mph); the two-beat trot or jog at 13 to 19 kilometers per hour (8.1 to 11.8 mph) (faster for harness racing horses); the canter or lope, a three-beat gait that is 19 to 24 kilometers per hour (12 to 15 mph); and the gallop.
The gallop averages 40 to 48 kilometers per hour (25 to 30 mph), but the world record for a horse galloping over a short, sprint distance is 70.76 kilometers per hour (43.97 mph). Besides these basic gaits, some horses perform a two-beat pace, instead of the trot.
There also are several four-beat ambling gaits that are approximately the speed of a trot or pace, though smoother to ride. These include the lateral rack, running walk, and told as well as the diagonal fox trot.
Horses are prey animals with a strong fight-or-flight response. Their first reaction to a threat is to startle and usually flee, although they will stand their ground and defend themselves when flight is impossible or if their young are threatened.
They also tend to be curious; when startled, they will often hesitate an instant to ascertain the cause of their fright, and may not always flee from something that they perceive as non-threatening. Most light horse riding breeds were developed for speed, agility, alertness and endurance; natural qualities that extend from their wild ancestors.
Horses are herd animals, with a clear hierarchy of rank, led by a dominant individual, usually a mare. They are also social creatures that are able to form companionship attachments to their own species and to other animals, including humans.
They communicate in various ways, including vocalizations such as nickering or whinnying, mutual grooming, and body language. However, when confined with insufficient companionship, exercise, or stimulation, individuals may develop stable vices, an assortment of bad habits, mostly stereotypes of psychological origin, that include wood chewing, wall kicking, “weaving” (rocking back and forth), and other problems.
Intelligence and learning Domesticated horses may face greater mental challenges than wild horses, because they live in artificial environments that prevent instinctive behavior whilst also learning tasks that are not natural. One trainer believes that “intelligent” horses are reflections of intelligent trainers who effectively use response conditioning techniques and positive reinforcement to train in the style that best fits with an individual animal's natural inclinations.
Temperament Horses are mammals, and as such are warm-blooded, or endothermic creatures, as opposed to cold-blooded, or poikilothermic animals. However, these words have developed a separate meaning in the context of equine terminology, used to describe temperament, not body temperature.
For example, the “hot-bloods”, such as many race horses, exhibit more sensitivity and energy, while the “cold-bloods”, such as most draft breeds, are quieter and calmer. Illustration of assorted breeds; slim, light hot bloods, medium-sized warm bloods and draft and pony-type cold blood breeds”Hot blooded” breeds include oriental horses such as the Akhal-Teke, Arabian horse, Barb and now-extinct Turbofan horse, as well as the Thoroughbred, a breed developed in England from the older oriental breeds.
Hot bloods tend to be spirited, bold, and learn quickly. The original oriental breeds were brought to Europe from the Middle East and North Africa when European breeders wished to infuse these traits into racing and light cavalry horses.
Muscular, heavy draft horses are known as “cold bloods”, as they are bred not only for strength, but also to have the calm, patient temperament needed to pull a plow or a heavy carriage full of people. Well-known draft breeds include the Belgian and the Clydesdale.
Some, like the Percheron, are lighter and livelier, developed to pull carriages or to plow large fields in drier climates. Others, such as the Shire, are slower and more powerful, bred to plow fields with heavy, clay-based soils.
The cold-blooded group also includes some pony breeds. “ Warm blood breeds, such as the Takeover or Hanoverian, developed when European carriage and war horses were crossed with Arabians or Thoroughbreds, producing a riding horse with more refinement than a draft horse, but greater size and milder temperament than a lighter breed.
Certain pony breeds with warm blood characteristics have been developed for smaller riders. Sleep patterns When horses lie down to sleep, others in the herd remain standing, awake or in a light doze, keeping watch.
In an adaptation from life in the wild, horses are able to enter light sleep by using a stay apparatus in their legs, allowing them to doze without collapsing. A horse kept alone will not sleep well because its instincts are to keep a constant eye out for danger.
Unlike humans, horses do not sleep in a solid, unbroken period of time, but take many short periods of rest. Horses spend four to fifteen hours a day in standing rest, and from a few minutes to several hours lying down.
Total sleep time in a 24-hour period may range from several minutes to a couple of hours, mostly in short intervals of about 15 minutes each. The average sleep time of a domestic horse is said to be 2.9 hours per day.
Horses must lie down to reach REM sleep. They only have to lie down for an hour or two every few days to meet their minimum REM sleep requirements.
However, if a horse is never allowed to lie down, after several days it will become sleep-deprived, and in rare cases may suddenly collapse as it involuntarily slips into REM sleep while still standing. This condition differs from narcolepsy, although horses may also suffer from that disorder.
From left to right: Size development, biometrical changes in the cranium, reduction of toes (left forefoot)The horse adapted to survive in areas of wide-open terrain with sparse vegetation, surviving in an ecosystem where other large grazing animals, especially ruminants, could not. Horses and other equips are odd-toed ungulates of the order Perissodactyla, a group of mammals that was dominant during the Tertiary period.
The extra toe on the front feet soon disappeared with the Mesohippus, which lived 32 to 37 million years ago. Over time, the extra side toes shrank in size until they vanished.
All that remains of them in modern horses is a set of small vestigial bones on the leg below the knee, known informally as splint bones. Their legs also lengthened as their toes disappeared until they were a hooked animal capable of running at great speed.
By about 5 million years ago, the modern Equus had evolved. Equip teeth also evolved from browsing on soft, tropical plants to adapt to browsing of drier plant material, then to grazing of tougher plains grasses.
Thus, photo- horses changed from leaf-eating forest-dwellers to grass-eating inhabitants of semi-arid regions worldwide, including the steppes of Eurasia and the Great Plains of North America. By about 15,000 years ago, Equus ferns was a widespread Arctic species.
Horse bones from this time period, the late Pleistocene, are found in Europe, Eurasia, Bering, and North America. Yet between 10,000 and 7,600 years ago, the horse became extinct in North America and rare elsewhere.
The reasons for this extinction are not fully known, but one theory notes that extinction in North America paralleled human arrival. Another theory points to climate change, noting that approximately 12,500 years ago, the grasses characteristic of a steppe ecosystem gave way to shrub tundra, which was covered with unpalatable plants.
A small herd of Przewalski's Horses A truly wild horse is a species or subspecies with no ancestors that were ever domesticated. Therefore, most “wild” horses today are actually feral horses, animals that escaped or were turned loose from domestic herds and the descendants of those animals.
Only two never- domesticated subspecies, the Tarzan and the Przewalski's horse, survived into recorded history and only the latter survives today. The Przewalski's horse (Equus ferns przewalskii), named after the Russian explorer Nikolai Przhevalsky, is a rare Asian animal.
It is also known as the Mongolian wild horse; Mongolian people know it as the take, and the Kerry people call it a airbag. The subspecies was presumed extinct in the wild between 1969 and 1992, while a small breeding population survived in zoos around the world.
In 1992, it was reestablished in the wild due to the conservation efforts of numerous zoos. Today, a small wild breeding population exists in Mongolia.
There are additional animals still maintained at zoos throughout the world. The Tarzan or European wild horse (Equus ferus) was found in Europe and much of Asia.
It survived into the historical era, but became extinct in 1909, when the last captive died in a Russian zoo. Attempts to have been made to recreate the Tarzan, which resulted in horses with outward physical similarities, but nonetheless descended from domesticated ancestors and not true wild horses.
Periodically, populations of horses in isolated areas are speculated to be relict populations of wild horses, but generally have been proven to be feral or domestic. For example, the Roche horse of Tibet was proposed as such, but testing did not reveal genetic differences from domesticated horses.
Similarly, the Sorrier of Portugal was proposed as a direct descendant of the Tarzan based on shared characteristics, but genetic studies have shown that the Sorrier is more closely related to other horse breeds and that the outward similarity is an unreliable measure of relatedness. The most common hybrid is the mule, a cross between a “jack” (male donkey) and a mare.
A related hybrid, a Ginny, is a cross between a stallion and a jenny (female donkey). Other hybrids include the horse, a cross between a zebra and a horse.
With rare exceptions, most hybrids are sterile and cannot reproduce. Bhimbetka rock painting showing a man riding on a horse, IndiaDomestication of the horse most likely took place in Central Asia prior to 3500 BC.
Two major sources of information are used to determine where and when the horse was first domesticated and how the domesticated horse spread around the world. The first source is based on pathological and archaeological discoveries; the second source is a comparison of DNA obtained from modern horses to that from bones and teeth of ancient horse remains.
The earliest archaeological evidence for the domestication of the horse comes from sites in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, dating to approximately 3500–4000 BC. By 3000 BC, the horse was completely domesticated and by 2000 BC there was a sharp increase in the number of horse bones found in human settlements in northwestern Europe, indicating the spread of domesticated horses throughout the continent.
The most recent, but most irrefutable evidence of domestication comes from sites where horse remains were interred with chariots in graves of the Sintashta and Petrov cultures c. 2100 BC. Domestication is also studied by using the genetic material of present-day horses and comparing it with the genetic material present in the bones and teeth of horse remains found in archaeological and pathological excavations.
The variation in the genetic material shows that very few wild stallions contributed to the domestic horse, while many mares were part of early domesticated herds. This is reflected in the difference in genetic variation between the DNA that is passed on along the paternal, or sire line (Y-chromosome) versus that passed on along the maternal, or dam line (mitochondrial DNA).
There are very low levels of Y-chromosome variability, but a great deal of genetic variation in mitochondrial DNA. There is also regional variation in mitochondrial DNA due to the inclusion of wild mares in domestic herds.
Another characteristic of domestication is an increase in coat color variation. Before the availability of DNA techniques to resolve the questions related to the domestication of the horse, various hypotheses were proposed.
One classification was based on body types and conformation, suggesting the presence of four basic prototypes that had adapted to their environment prior to domestication. Another hypothesis held that the four prototypes originated from a single wild species and that all different body types were entirely a result of selective breeding after domestication.
However, the lack of a detectable substructure in the horse has resulted in a rejection of both hypotheses. Feral horses are born and live in the wild, but are descended from domesticated animals.
Many populations of feral horses exist throughout the world. Studies of feral herds have provided useful insights into the behavior of prehistoric horses, as well as greater understanding of the instincts and behaviors that drive horses that live in domesticated conditions.
There are also semi-feral horses in many parts of the world, such as Dartmoor and the New Forest in the UK, where the animals are all privately owned but live for significant amounts of time in “wild” conditions on undeveloped, often public, lands. Owners of such animals often pay a fee for grazing rights.
The concept of purebred bloodstock and a controlled, written breed registry has come to be particularly significant and important in modern times. Sometimes purebred horses are incorrectly or inaccurately called “thoroughbreds”.
Thoroughbred is a specific breed of horse, while a “purebred” is a horse (or any other animal) with a defined pedigree recognized by a breed registry. Horse breeds are groups of horses with distinctive characteristics that are transmitted consistently to their offspring, such as conformation, color, performance ability, or disposition.
These inherited traits result from a combination of natural crosses and artificial selection methods. An early example of people who practiced selective horse breeding were the Bedouin, who had a reputation for careful practices, keeping extensive pedigrees of their Arabian horses and placing great value upon pure bloodlines.
These pedigrees were originally transmitted via an oral tradition. In the 14th century, Cartesian monks of southern Spain kept meticulous pedigrees of bloodstock lineages still found today in the Andalusian horse.
Breeds developed due to a need for “form to function”, the necessity to develop certain characteristics in order to perform a particular type of work. Thus, a powerful but refined breed such as the Andalusian developed as riding horses with an aptitude for dressage.
Heavy draft horses were developed out of a need to perform demanding farm work and pull heavy wagons. Other horse breeds had been developed specifically for light agricultural work, carriage and road work, various sport disciplines, or simply as pets.
Some breeds developed through centuries of crossing other breeds, while others descended from a single foundation sire, or other limited or restricted foundation bloodstock. One of the earliest formal registries was General Stud Book for Thoroughbreds, which began in 1791 and traced back to the foundation bloodstock for the breed.
Worldwide, horses play a role within human cultures and have done so for millennia. Horses are used for leisure activities, sports, and working purposes.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that in 2008, there were almost 59,000,000 horses in the world, with around 33,500,000 in the Americas, 13,800,000 in Asia and 6,300,000 in Europe and smaller portions in Africa and Oceania. The American Horse Council estimates that horse-related activities have a direct impact on the economy of the United States of over $39 billion, and when indirect spending is considered, the impact is over $102 billion.
In a 2004 “poll” conducted by Animal Planet, more than 50,000 viewers from 73 countries voted for the horse as the world's 4th favorite animal. Communication between human and horse is paramount in any equestrian activity; to aid this process horses are usually ridden with a saddle on their backs to assist the rider with balance and positioning, and a bridle or related headgear to assist the rider in maintaining control.
Many horses are also driven, which requires a harness, bridle, and some type of vehicle. Historically, equestrians honed their skills through games and races.
Equestrian sports provided entertainment for crowds and honed the excellent horsemanship that was needed in battle. Many sports, such as dressage, evening and show jumping, have origins in military training, which were focused on control and balance of both horse and rider.
Other sports, such as rodeo, developed from practical skills such as those needed on working ranches and stations. Horse racing of all types evolved from impromptu competitions between riders or drivers.
All forms of competition, requiring demanding and specialized skills from both horse and rider, resulted in the systematic development of specialized breeds and equipment for each sport. The popularity of equestrian sports through the centuries has resulted in the preservation of skills that would otherwise have disappeared after horses stopped being used in combat.
Horses are trained to be ridden or driven in a variety of sporting competitions. Examples include show jumping, dressage, three-day evening, competitive driving, endurance riding, gymkhana, rodeos, and fox hunting.
Horse shows, which have their origins in medieval European fairs, are held around the world. They host a huge range of classes, covering all the mounted and harness disciplines, as well as “In-hand” classes where the horses are led, rather than ridden, to be evaluated on their conformation.
The method of judging varies with the discipline, but winning usually depends on style and ability of both horse and rider. Sports such as polo do not judge the horse itself, but rather use the horse as a partner for human competitors as a necessary part of the game.
Horse racing is an equestrian sport and major international industry, watched in almost every nation of the world. There are three types: “flat” racing; steeple chasing, i.e. racing over jumps; and harness racing, where horses trot or pace while pulling a driver in a small, light cart known as a sulky.
A major part of horse racing's economic importance lies in the gambling associated with it. There are certain jobs that horses do very well, and no technology has yet developed to fully replace them.
For example, mounted police horses are still effective for certain types of patrol duties and crowd control. Cattle ranches still require riders on horseback to round up cattle that are scattered across remote, rugged terrain.
Search and rescue organizations in some countries depend upon mounted teams to locate people, particularly hikers and children, and to provide disaster relief assistance. Horses can also be used in areas where it is necessary to avoid vehicular disruption to delicate soil, such as nature reserves.
They may also be the only form of transport allowed in wilderness areas. Law enforcement officers such as park rangers or game wardens may use horses for patrols, and horses or mules may also be used for clearing trails or other work in areas of rough terrain where vehicles are less effective.
Although machinery has replaced horses in many parts of the world, an estimated 100 million horses, donkeys and mules are still used for agriculture and transportation in less developed areas. This number includes around 27 million working animals in Africa alone.
Some land management practices such as cultivating and logging can be efficiently performed with horses. In agriculture, less fossil fuel is used and increased environmental conservation occurs over time with the use of draft animals such as horses.
Logging with horses can result in reduced damage to soil structure and less damage to trees due to more selective logging. The first archaeological evidence of horses used in warfare dates to between 4000 and 3000 BC, and the use of horses in warfare was widespread by the end of the Bronze Age.
Although mechanization has largely replaced the horse as a weapon of war, horses are still seen today in limited military uses, mostly for ceremonial purposes, or for reconnaissance and transport activities in areas of rough terrain where motorized vehicles are ineffective. Horses have been used in the 21st century by the Janjaweed militias in the War in Darfur.
The horse-headed deity in Hinduism, Hayagriva Modern horses are often used to reenact many of their historical work purposes. Horses are used, complete with equipment that is authentic or a meticulously recreated replica, in various live action historical reenactments of specific periods of history, especially recreations of famous battles.
Horses are also used to preserve cultural traditions and for ceremonial purposes. Countries such as the United Kingdom still use horse-drawn carriages to convey royalty and other VIPs to and from certain culturally significant events.
Public exhibitions are another example, such as the Budweiser Clydesdale's, seen in parades and other public settings, a team of draft horses that pull a beer wagon similar to that used before the invention of the modern motorized truck. Horses are frequently used in television, films and literature.
They are sometimes featured as a major character in films about particular animals, but also used as visual elements that assure the accuracy of historical stories. The horse frequently appears in coats of arms in heraldry, in a variety of poses and equipment.
The mythologies of many cultures, including Greco-Roman, Hindu, Islamic, and Norse, include references to both normal horses and those with wings or additional limbs, and multiple myths also call upon the horse to draw the chariots of the Moon and Sun. People of all ages with physical and mental disabilities obtain beneficial results from an association with horses.
Therapeutic riding is used to mentally and physically stimulate disabled persons and help them improve their lives through improved balance and coordination, increased self-confidence, and a greater feeling of freedom and independence. The benefits of equestrian activity for people with disabilities has also been recognized with the addition of equestrian events to the Paralympic Games and recognition of para-equestrian events by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI).
Hippo therapy and therapeutic horseback riding are names for different physical, occupational, and speech therapy treatment strategies that utilize equine movement. In hippo therapy, a therapist uses the horse's movement to improve their patient's cognitive, coordination, balance, and fine motor skills, whereas therapeutic horseback riding uses specific riding skills.
Horses also provide psychological benefits to people whether they actually ride or not. “Equine-assisted” or “equine-facilitated” therapy is a form of experiential psychotherapy that uses horses as companion animals to assist people with mental illness, including anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, mood disorders, behavioral difficulties, and those who are going through major life changes.
There are also experimental programs using horses in prison settings. Exposure to horses appears to improve the behavior of inmates and help reduce recidivism when they leave.
Products collected from living horses include mare's milk, used by people with large horse herds, such as the Mongols, who let it ferment to produce Luis. Horse blood was once used as food by the Mongols and other nomadic tribes, who found it a convenient source of nutrition when traveling.
Drinking their own horses blood allowed the Mongols to ride for extended periods of time without stopping to eat. The drug Remain is a mixture of estrogens extracted from the urine of pregnant mares (pregnant ma res' your in e), and was previously a widely used drug for hormone replacement therapy.
The tail hair of horses can be used for making bows for string instruments such as the violin, viola, cello, and double bass. Horse meat has been used as food for humans and carnivorous animals throughout the ages.
Approximately 5 million horses are slaughtered each year for meat worldwide. It is eaten in many parts of the world, though consumption is taboo in some cultures, and a subject of political controversy in others.
Horse hooves can also be used to produce animal glue. Specifically, in Italian cuisine, the horse tibia is sharpened into a probe called a Shinto, which is used to test the readiness of a (pig) ham as it cures.
In Asia, the saga is a horsehide vessel used in the production of Luis. Checking teeth and other physical examinations are an important part of horse care.
Horses are grazing animals, and their major source of nutrients is good-quality forage from hay or pasture. They can consume approximately 2% to 2.5% of their body weight in dry feed each day.
Sometimes, concentrated feed such as grain is fed in addition to pasture or hay, especially when the animal is very active. When grain is fed, equine nutritionists recommend that 50% or more of the animal's diet by weight should still be forage.
Horses require a plentiful supply of clean water, a minimum of 10 US gallons (38 L) to 12 US gallons (45 L) per day. Although horses are adapted to live outside, they require shelter from the wind and precipitation, which can range from a simple shed or shelter to an elaborate stable.
Horses require routine hoof care from a farrier, as well as vaccinations to protect against various diseases, and dental examinations from a veterinarian or a specialized equine dentist. If horses are kept inside in a barn, they require regular daily exercise for their physical health and mental well-being.
When turned outside, they require well-maintained, sturdy fences to be safely contained. Regular grooming is also helpful to help the horse maintain good health of the hair coat and underlying skin.
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No horse wants to be treated harshly and aggressively, or laxly and indifferently. Like your kids, they will take over if you don’t establish clear boundaries and limits.
Wild horses haven’t been abused, spoiled or taught bad behaviors by you or anyone else. A horse who has spent time in a social setting is smarter, has a stronger sense of self, and is more “in the know” than one who has grown up an in a stall.
Horse society requires good manners, respect and the ability to get on with others. Perhaps, most importantly, horses understand that there must be a leader in order for the community to work well.
It makes sense to become the good leader that inspires your mustang (or domestic for that matter). Wild horses, with their keen senses, read and understand their environment and the beings that move through it.
They have a profound ability to spot and understand body language, energy, movement and purpose. All horses are naturally honest, and will give you true and genuine feedback.
Calming and training your wild horse will make you a better trainer and handler of all equines. The company combines industry knowledge with an understanding of the veterinary practice.
The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information. Every horse is an individual and, whether wild or domestic, wants to be recognized entirely for himself.
We know that horses are herd animals and have a hierarchical social behavior within the herd.NBS; Within this structure, there is a trusting of individual friendship. We can see both wild and domestic horses within the herd finding a favorite partner.
This is why we humans, if done right, can build a special relationship with our horses where they love to be with us. Nature did not condition horses to deal with the trappings of civilization.
Horses graphically portray the basic drive for self-preservation that is shared by all living creatures. The concern that horses have for their security stays on the surface throughout their lives.
Horses can recognize simple patterns of predictability and take confidence in them, but when anything out of the ordinary happens, their nameless dread springs to the forefront. This is because the horse does not possess the ability to apply known facts to new situations.
Example: Your horse may be accustomed to the sight of a tarp in a certain place and walk past it many times without anxiety; but if the tarp is lifted toward him by a sudden gust of wind, he will startle with fright. Whether wild or domestic, one major difference in their behavior is caution.
They breed easily in captivity and can undergo multiple periods of fertility in a single year. Many domesticated animals live in herds, making them easy for humans to control.
People also often intentionally select for these juvenile traits in the course of breeding, giving us the pugs, rag doll cats, and dwarf rabbits of today. Captive Asian elephants, for example, are often misinterpreted as domesticated, because they have been kept by humans for thousands of years.
Although then can breed in captivity, like big cats and other wild animals, they are not selectively bred, largely because of their long reproductive cycle. For this reason, there are no domesticated breeds of Asian elephants : They remain wild animals.
Shelters report high numbers of domestic rabbits being abandoned outdoors. Horses have lived on Earth for more than 50 million years, according the American Museum of Natural History.
According to Scientific American, the first horses originated in North America and then spread to Asia and Europe. The horses left in North America became extinct about 10,000 years ago and were re-introduced by colonizing Europeans.
It is believed that horses were first domesticated in Asia between 3000 and 4000 B.C., according to Oklahoma State University. Eventually, horses joined oxen as a form of animal transportation.
Horses can be as big as 69 inches (175 centimeters) from hoof to shoulder and weigh as much as 2,200 lbs. The smallest breeds of horses can be as small as 30 inches (76 centimeters) from hoof to shoulder and weigh only 120 lbs.
For example, the Abyssinian is found in Ethiopia, the Buoyancy comes from Russia, Delibes is from Georgia and Armenia, the Egyptian came from Egypt and the Colorado Ranger bred comes from the Colorado plains, according to Oklahoma State University. In the wild, horses will live in herds that consist of three to 20 animals and are lead by a mature male, which is called a stallion, according to National Geographic.
Typically, horses eat grass, but domesticated horses are often fed bran, rolled oats, barley and hay, as well. A well-fed horse eats 1 to 2 percent of its body weight in roughage, such as grass or hay, every day, according to The Humane Society.
This wallpaper shows Assateague Island in Maryland and Virginia. (Image credit: National Park Service) Horses have live births after around 11 months of gestation.
Ponies are adult horses that are shorter than 56 inches (147 cm), according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Shetland and Welsh horses are common pony breeds.
Populations have been reintroduced to China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, according to the San Diego Zoo. The Hungarian Warm blood was bred to be a sport horse breed.