Are Horses Native Africa

Daniel Brown
• Saturday, 07 November, 2020
• 26 min read

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horse boerperd south breeds native africa breed indigenous horses origin globetrotting
(Source: www.nativebreed.org)


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Usually the cavalry in Roman legions were native auxiliaries, such as the Namibians from Northern Africa, and the horses would come from the same region. This animal is also native to India, the Middle East, and parts of Mongolia.

Horses have changed the lives of the Native Americans in many good ways. The main thing that horses did for the Native Americans was give them transportation.

horse breeds boerperd south africa kaapse native
(Source: www.nativebreed.org)

I’ve said on several previous occasions that domestic animals are far from outside the Tet Zoo remit. On the contrary, I find them to be of great interest, and I think that their diversity, evolution and behavior is something that we should pay attention to more often.

The article you’re reading now is a weird spin off of the Tetra pod Zoology podcast (known in-universe as the TetZoopodcats) and relates specifically to a question we were asked by Tet Zoo regular Richard Hing. I should say to begin with that it’s becoming ever-easier for me to write about domestic horse breeds and their history because I now own quite a few books devoted to these subjects.

While there’s a very obvious European (and British) bias to these books, the good news is that at least some of them do discuss the breeds from places like sub-Saharan Africa. The majority of African horse breeds are derivatives of a domestication event that was centered in Asia Minor and the Mediterranean fringes.

I really want to avoid the subject of pre-dynastic horses and domestication history (and taxonomy) here since it’s very complicated and there’s lots to say. I will say that horses were seemingly domesticated several times, from wild populations that almost certainly differed in proportions and other characteristics.

They have proportionally long ears and a bulging forehead region that apparently reflects the presence of large frontal sinuses (Bennett 2008). This is a long-headed, long-legged horse with flat shoulders, a low-set tail and sloping hindquarters, and it can be virtually any shade of brown, black or gray.

horses horse wild namibia desert namib foal africa magazine called spirit sometimes
(Source: magazine.africageographic.com)

They’ve repeatedly been crossed with Arab horses, so much so that a large pool of hybrids now exists, and several Barb strains have been bred. A form with a Roman-nosed appearance is associated with Tripoli, and smaller-bodied versions have been bred in mountainous parts of Algeria and Morocco.

One hybrid population, mostly associated with Libya, has a distinctive-enough look that it’s treated as a distinct breed, the Libyan barb or North African horse. From here, they were taken to South America where breeds like the Argentine Criollo, Puerto Rican Pass Fine and Machado are apparently derived from them.

I should also note briefly that Barbs may have originated in Spain in the first place, an idea which is consistent with archaeological and genetic data suggesting that the Iberian Peninsula was both a Pleistocene refuge for wild horses, and a domestication center for animals that were later taken around the Mediterranean fringes and across northern Africa (Jansen et al. Animals I’ve seen in photos have a gently bulging forehead and slightly concave dorsal face profile like that seen in North African Barbs.

Many comments made about the Angola have a negative connotation: it’s described as having thin legs, a proportionally big, dorsally convex and unattractive head, a flat croup (= rump), and a long back. Hendricks (2007) refers to the degeneration of quality in this breed and a 19th century concern that it was nearing extinction.

Fulani horses are small and hardy, they’re highly variable, and they have features indicative of an Afro-Turkic/Oriental ancestry. Pictures show a long, narrow face, slender proportions overall and a function as both a pack and saddle horse.

horse african breeds horses civilization cradle wikimedia source
(Source: horsesandfoals.com)

Linguistic data, rock art and historical accounts indicate that these animals have been in West Africa for some considerable time, perhaps for 1000 years or more. In fact, it’s obvious that “he importance of ponies in West Africa has been seriously underestimated because the process of replacement by the larger and more prestigious horses brought across the desert was already advanced during the period when the first observers were writing” (Blench 1993, p. 103).

Several groups of people in what is now Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and elsewhere in western and Central Africa are recorded as using and breeding horses, and of using them extensively in battle. Indeed, there’s good evidence that the use of horses was key in the military and political patterns of the region (Blench 1993).

Plateau State in Nigeria was inhabited by people with a rich and interesting horse-based culture. The Pit people of Nigeria also used their small hill ponies when hunting game.

Sadly, all of these animals seem to have declined substantially in recent decades with a 1990 survey finding only three in use among one of the relevant ethnic groups (Blench 1993). A remarkable tradition apparently used by people across the region concerns the deliberate cutting of the horse’s back such that it bled, the clotting blood then being used as an adhesive to help the (bareback) rider stay in place.

Blench (1993) quoted UMM (1910) on this, and noted that it seemed so bizarre (and cruel) that it would ordinarily be worthy of dismissal as a traveler’s tale. Some authors provided extra information, saying that the skin was opened on the back such that a swollen pad (and eventually a giant roughened area of scar tissue) formed and functioned as a sort of built-in saddle.

breeds horse native basuto pony south africa
(Source: www.nativebreed.org)

A Berm man (the Berm or Biro are indigenous to the Jo's Plateau in Nigeria) was quoted as saying “A horse is like a man; you send it out to bring a tired man home, you give it water to drink, you walk miles to find it grass to eat, it carries you to hunt and to war, when it is tired you dismount and carry your load on your own head. When you die, and they lead it towards your grave, its spirit may fly out of its body in its anxiety to find you” (Musical 1982, p. 23-24).

Ponies kept by the Berm were killed when their owner died and the corpse was then wrapped in the skin (Davies, in Blench 1993). Axes, spears, saddles and bits and reins were used by these people as they rode, and Master apparently featured a remarkable image where Gamer warriors, crossing the Logon River in canoes, are leading their swimming horses behind them (Blench 1993).

Master also referred to the sight of 3000-4000 Gamer warriors, about one-third of which were mounted, so they apparently owned a great many horses. It’s apparently has exceptionally hard hooves, relatively short legs and a longish back (Goodall 1963).

These features are all related to its sure-footedness on rough, rocky terrain, and it’s this characteristic which had made the Auto a popular and reliable horse used extensively during the Boer War. The Auto seems to have originated as a cross between Arab, Persian and Thoroughbred horses during the middle of the 17th century and to have been brought to Southern Africa by Dutch and Portuguese people.

The origins and history of miniature horses is confusing, in part because people have crossed small individuals of many breeds to create small-stature animals. They probably descend from horses imported to the region for military purposes and don’t have (contra some ideas on their origins) any direct links to Auto ponies used by endemic people.

horse boerperd horses breeds african south africa breed cape sa pony type strong different types boer historiese traditional gaited grey
(Source: www.horsebreedspictures.com)

I don’t know anywhere near as much as I might like, but the few sources I’ve consulted show that western, central and Southern Africa at least have a rich and diverse history of equestrianism. Horses have also been used extensively in war, in ceremonial fashion or as working or riding animals in many African countries even well south of the Sahara.

Ethnographic and linguistic evidence for the prehistory of African ruminant livestock, horses and ponies. In And ah, B., Spoke, A., Shaw, C. & Sinclair, P. (eds) The Archaeology of Africa : Food, Metals and Towns.

The Luciano horse maternal lineage based on mitochondrial D-loop sequence variation. Some may have complex or obscure histories, so inclusion here does not necessarily imply that a breed is predominantly or exclusively African.

Name English name if differentReported fromNotesImage Abyssinian Ethiopia Bahr-El-Ghazal Chad ALADI Egyptian Egypt Niagara Mali, Niger Barb Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia Lesotho Pony Lesotho Beledougou Mali Beirut Pony Nigeria Bob Burkina Faso Border Botswana, South Africa Born Nigeria Calvin South Africa extinct Cape Harness South Africa extinct Cape Horse South Africa Coeval de Nioro Mali Dermal Niger Domain Mali Angola Chad, Eritrea, Mali, Sudan English Halibut Horse South Africa European Warm blood South Africa Leave Senegal FOTA Senegal Haldane :122 Tunisia Hausa Mali, Niger, Nigeria Hod Mali, Mauritania Koto-Koli Pony Benin, Togo Le money DES Moods Tunisia M' Par Senegal M'Bayer Senegal Moss Burkina Faso Nam aqua Pony South Africa extinct Najib Horse South Africa Nephew Pony Tunisia extinct Nooitgedachter Botswana, South Africa Money du Logon Chad SA Miniature Horse South Africa SA Sporting horse South Africa SA Warm Blood South Africa Sahel Mali Somali Pony Somalia Songhai Mali Sudan Country-Bred Sudan Surabaya Nigeria Tailed Sudan Torrid Niger Tswana Botswana Clamped South Africa West African Barb Algeria, Chad, Ghana, Mauritania, Senegal, Tunisia West African Angola Central African Republic, Sudan West African Pony Ghana Western Sudan Pony Sudan Height Burkina Faso ^ Breeds in Africa : Horse. Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Asian nomads probably domesticated the first horses some 4,000 years ago, and the animals remained essential to many human societies until the advent of the engine.

hybrid zebra animales africa horse hibridos los diaries cross between mas sorprendentes
(Source: africa-diaries.blogspot.com)

Horses still hold a place of honor in many cultures, often linked to heroic exploits in war. There is only one species of domestic horse, but around 400 different breeds that specialize in everything from pulling wagons to racing.

Free-roaming North American mustangs, for example, are the descendants of horses brought by Europeans more than 400 years ago. A stallion (mature male) leads the group, which consists of mares (females) and young foals.

When young males become colts, at around two years of age, the stallion drives them away. The colts then roam with other young males until they can gather their own band of females.

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.

White horses have had a special place in ancient history-according to Herodotus, they were held as sacred animals in the Achaemenid court of Xerxes the Great (ruled 485-465 BC). These stallions are all of Arab, Barb and Turk origin; their descendants are from one of only 74 British and imported mares.

horse breeds cradle african horses africa civilization native sea continent each different
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

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. In prehistoric times, humans used to paint the images of wild horses on the walls of the caves which they inhabited.

This hypothesis suggests that horses were domesticated in the Eurasian Steppes around the year 3500 BC. Bowie settlements in the Akola Province of Kazakhstan are believed to provide the location of the earliest domestication of the horse.

Leaving aside the exact time and date of domestication, horses have been used throughout history for transport, warfare and agricultural work. Horse images have been used as a symbol of power, as seen in the coastal steppes of Ukraine, near Ismail and north of the Danube Delta, in the Suvorovo graves.

These were derived from the earlier funeral traditions from the area around Deeper River. Other settlements in the steppes, which were contemporary to the Suvorovo graves (for example Daria on River Deeper and Sedna Stop II), contained numerous horse bones.

horse africa african nomads horses stallion power nomad chad geographic saddle rangers barb berber zakouma saving wildlife horseback chadian ranger
(Source: www.horsenation.com)

Horse mace heads have also been found in the farming towns of Triple and Gumelnitsa cultures. These agricultural cultures did not have such mace heads, but they are believed to have acquired them from Suvorovo immigrants.

The collapse of Old Europe is thought to have been due to the immigration of mounted Indo-European warriors. Throughout history, there have been a number of noteworthy horses which are still remembered up to the present day.

Babies was the horse of El Cid, the Castilian nobleman and military leader of medieval Spain. Copenhagen was the Duke of Wellington’s favorite horse, which he rode at the Battle of Waterloo.

Dhuuljaanaah was the horse of Human in Ali during the Battle of Barbara. Statue of Charlemagne by Agostini Cornacchini (1725), St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican, Italy.

Chit or Red Hare was Lu By’s horse from the Three Kingdoms. Gun You riding the Red Hare, as depicted in a mural in the Summer Palace, Beijing.

west wild geographic national africa geo nat channel jim shows natgeotv
(Source: natgeotv.com)

Strafe was the horse of Gustavus Adolph us of Sweden which he rode during the battle of Lutzen in the year 1632. In the present day, Burmese is the favorite horse of Queen Elizabeth II.

Queen Elizabeth II riding Burmese, statue in Regina, Saskatchewan () The horse was gray, it was the son of the trickster god Loki and it had eight legs.

Mythology also speaks about the unicorn, the Pegasus, the equal acorn (the Pegasus with a unicorn horn), the dragon horse of Xuan Gang and the hippocampus (the Phoenician and Greek seahorse). For example, white horses are associated with warrior heroes, fertility and the end of time.

“The American Museum of Natural History has asked to remove the Theodore Roosevelt statue because it explicitly depicts Black and Indigenous people as subjugated and racially inferior,” Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said in a statement. The museum’s leadership said in a statement that it was “profoundly moved” by the national reckoning over racial injustice following the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in police custody and has “watched as the attention of the world and the country has increasingly turned to statues and monuments as powerful and hurtful symbols of systemic racism.” Statues of Confederate leaders, Christopher Columbus and professional sports teams with racist histories have been among the casualties.

“As we strive to advance our institution’s, our City’s, and our country’s passionate quest for racial justice, we believe that removing the Statue will be a symbol of progress and of our commitment to build and sustain an inclusive and equitable Museum community and broader society,” the museum’s president, Ellen Butter, said in a statement. Attacks on statues of enslaves, Confederate generals and others reflect the symbolic place they hold worldwide in the history of and fight against racism.

african map horse africa indigenous worldwide breed horses
(Source: www.ventureco-worldwide.com)

Protests over the statue escalated after the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017, as national pressure mounted to reevaluate monuments condemned as racially offensive. But the commission was divided about Roosevelt, split on whether to relocate it, add more historical context or do more research to understand what the sculptor intended.

Before becoming president, Roosevelt wrote enthusiastically of conquering the “squalid savages” on the Western frontier, saying the settlers and pioneers “have justice on their side,” in his 1889 book, The Winning of the West.” “When you read some of his writings, you cringe because it has such a feeling of white supremacy,” Douglas Brinkley, a history professor at Rice University, said in the museum exhibit.

Alike Clover () | Scientific Names: Trillium hybrid um | Family: Leguminous Amaryllis (Many, including: Belladonna lily, Saint Joseph lily, Cape Belladonna, Naked Lady) | Scientific Names: Amaryllis SPP.

Burning Bush (Yahoo, Spindle Tree) | Scientific Names: Eponymous atropurpurea | Family: Celastraceae Buttercup (Butter Cress, Fig wort) | Scientific Names: Annulus SPP.

Elephant Ears (Calcium, Malaga) | Scientific Names: Colombia esculenta | Family: Tracheae Fetter bush (Stagger berry, Male berry) | Scientific Names: Lyon SPP.

przewalski mongolia horses horse endangered south wild july biggest africa nelson birthday brief animal animals mongolian species mandela native ukraine
(Source: darkroom.baltimoresun.com)

Lavage (Maggi plant, Smell age) | Scientific Names: Leviticus official | Family: Apache Male berry (Stagger bush, Fetter bush) | Scientific Names: Lyon SP.

Mountain Laurel () | Scientific Names: Alma latifolia | Family: Ericeira Naked Lady () | Scientific Names: Amaryllis SPP.

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