Horses were domesticated in about 3,000 BC (first in the Ukraine).
The first use of the horse was for food. Prior to domestication, they and other animals were herded into pits where the fall would either kill the animal or break its limbs so that it might easily be slaughtered. After domestication, in ancient China horses were actually bred for meat and milk.
The neck and girth, breast collar, and ridged horse collar were all invented in China about one thousand years before coming to Europe. After the invention of the breast collar, the yoke was still used by early charioteers to stop the carriage. They had still not invented the pole strap attached to the breast collar. The ridged collar system of harness was many more times efficient in pulling heavy loads. It revolutionized agriculture since the horse could work all day and walked five times faster than oxen.
Because Ireland as an island and isolation from England and Europe, the invention of the horse harness was very late to arrive. Before the use of the typical harness, the Irish would put horse in draft by tying a load to the horse’s tail.
Horses were put to war chariots from about 1700BC. Charioteering was an accepted use of horses for about 1000 years before they were selectively bred to be strong enough to support the weight of a rider on its back.
In 1469BC, history records that at the Battle of Magido in what is now Northern Palestine, Thusmosos traveled 10-15 miles a day to win this battle and capture 2004 horses.
The nomadic herdsman of the Steppe were the some of the first peoples to develop war tactics. They used much the same principles used in herding animals.
In about 700 BC the warriors began to choose to ride on the horses back. Prior to 1350BC riders were pictured riding on the rump of the horse because of the horse’s week back.
The Greek, Xenophon, was the most famous writer to record methods of training and riding of the horse.
The horse increased the speed at which the hunter or warrior could pursue it target. The composite bow used from either the platform of a chariot or the back of a horse allowed the hunter and warrior to drive or ride into a group of animals or men, kill, and retreat with much greater efficiency then on foot. The horse changed the way hunting and war was conducted.
Economy in the Middle Ages – The biggest development was when the invention of the rigid horse collar which found its way to Europe in the tenth century. This was to the tenth century, what the invention of the automobile was to the twentieth. The rigid horse collar revolutionized agriculture allowing one horse and man to do the work of 50 persons freeing persons to pursue the arts, science, and humanities.
British history – It was not until Edward VII that the British monarchy finally obtained a gilded gala carriage.
George III’s coronation – It seems there was a trained horse that was trained to walk backwards. The idea was that after the horse had been shown to the king it would gracefully back away so the king wouldn’t have to stare at its ass. The horse got a little mixed up and began walking backwards the moment it entered the hall and it kept walking backwards until it finally reached the king’s table, ass first.
World War II – During World War II about half the German Army still moved about on horses. The German Army used 2.7 million horses during the war. The Poles used about 200,000 horses. The US army only had about 50,000 horses in 1941. After the First and Second World Wars thousands of horses were slaughtered so that armies would not suffer the expense and chance of disease of returning horses to their native land. Armies also did not want to risk putting horses into the hands of the recently defeated enemy.
In New York City in 1890 a horse drawn cab traveled at 6 miles per hour. In New York City in 1990 an automobile cab traveled at 6 miles per hour.
The origin of the word cab comes from the Italian word for goat “cabrio”. The goat leaps or bounds about the ground. The characteristics of one first horse drawn commercial carriages was thought to leap and bound over the ground like the goat it was called a Cabriolet. The high school dressage movement where the horse leaps into the air is called a capriole after the movement of the goat.
Hats, gloves, whip and apron. Hats were a necessity in the Carriage Era. Most carriages were open, relatively slow moving vehicles so the hats were worn for protection from the elements and were of no danger of being blown away. Gloves were worn to assist the driver in grasping the reins ands to protect the hands from the die on the harness. The whip was always carried as one of the three aids (reins, whip and voice) the driver used to communicate with the horse. The whip was not an instrument of torture. It was to tap the horse just as a rider’s legs queue the horse to move its hindquarters sideways, forward, etc. Apron or lap robes were worn to protect one’s fine clothing from the dust and dirt of the horses and the road.
The fashion of wearing hats started to disappear with the advent of enclosed automobiles. President Kennedy was the first president to appear at his inauguration with out a hat.
The use of iron and invention of gunpowder changed the conformation of the horse. The small cantering horse of the Bronze Age were supplanted with the classic Baroque horse of the Iron Age and then crossed again with cantering, long-strided horses to produce the horse of the Gun Powder Age.
One of the first uses of horses was in battle. Since most persons were right handed they would want their weapon in their right hand and the reins of the horse in their left hand – just as the cowboy would want his rope in his right hand and the polo player would want his mallet in his right hand. (Polo was a game developed to keep the warrior and his horse fit for battle when not at was. The horse could stay in fit condition and the warrior could keep his fighting right arm ready for the sward or lance.)
Men drove chariots with their reins in their left hand and right shoulder to right shoulder so that they could reach the oncoming charioteer with his weapon carrying right hand. The warrior could also see easily the hub to hub transfer to know how close to come to his opponent.
We mount the horse from its left side for the same reason. The saber’s sheath was worn on the left hip so that it could easily be pulled by the right hand. The placement of this sheath necessitated the soldier mount the horse from its left side to avoid the leg when thrown over the horse back from getting caught on the sheath. We ride the near side post horse for the same reason; it frees the right hand to use the whip on the off horse. The near and off horse are called this because of the necessity of the ride to mount the left horse in a postilion hitch.