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The Role of Horses in Human Advancement


horse hugWhen you look into human history, few animals stand out as truly integral to our species’ survival. Cats played a big hand in ridding us of pest throughout the ages, and dogs stood by us and our flocks when the predators came around, but of all the animals ever to join with humans toward a better life, horses stand far above them all. Their necessity in every aspect of life and big moments in history just cannot be overlooked, so let’s take a short look at just how integral they were to our development.

The earliest humans were about as primitive as…well about as primitive as we are now, but they didn’t have iPhones back then. We were hunters and gatherers, desperate to stay alive every step of the way. We had no natural defenses against predators, no special adaptive abilities in new environments, nothing that made us special at all. Except, of course, for our ability to utilize tools. We figured out how to fashion rocks into hammers and spears and wheels, but along with learning to use tools, we learned something else that’s rather unexpected: we learned how to be parasites.

To be fair, humans aren’t parasites in the same way that a leech will just latch onto you and sit there. No, we’re the type of species that will see shortcomings in ourselves and find someone or something else to make up for what we’re lacking. When agriculture was developed, it became very apparent that humans, while resilient in spirit, were comparatively weak in body. In comes the horse.
Horses are built strong, durable, and clever. They can spend all day plowing a field and sleep just fine with themselves, then do it again the very next day. When trained right, horses can become far more valuable than humans in the equation. Just think about it: Which species would have survived without the other, and which wouldn’t? Had humans not had the help of horses for plowing and harvesting their fields, would we still be here today?

But farming is where the relationship ends. Humans don’t hold any significant land speed records except against each other. We’re constantly outrun by everything big and small, and while a few of us can run for long distances, trying to cover a ton of ground on such short notice is just not feasible. Once again we’re bailed out by horses with their superior speed, stamina, and ability to carry items great distances. The world opens up to us, allowing us to travel and explore, to trade among other tribes and colonies, to move entire lives from one spot to another. We are no longer confined to one space but rather to a vast space. Our world gets bigger.

Later on when humans have become so successful that the world is suddenly becoming smaller and wars are breaking out all over, what becomes one of the biggest advantages within the battles? Nope, not guns, which wouldn’t be accurate enough to be deadly for quite some time, but rather horses once more swoop in and become the deciding factor in human evolution. The advantage of riding a horse into war is that you’re a far more imposing force to be reckoned with, ultimately leading to a vast number of victories to the horses and their riders. Depending on who had horses and who didn’t, entire wars could have turned out differently. Who knows what would have happened differently without horses?

These days, horses are experiencing a sort of retirement from the limelight. They’ve done their part to get humans going and helped them become a bit more self-sufficient, but the two species haven’t forgotten one another. Humans still share a strong bond to horses, and horses still know how to carry us when we need the help, but now the relationship is less about needing horses to thrive and more about needing horses because we genuinely love them. Why not thank your horse for carrying not just you but the entire human race for all those years? I’m sure it’ll be grateful for the love!


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