I've been fascinated by horses since I can remember. In fact, I've woven horses into many of my books, so I thought it would be fun to investigate horses in history--how they've been used, when they appeared on the North American continent, then spotlight a few of the famous ones.
First, I've always believed horses were brought to 'the new land' with the Spaniards, then introduced to the Native American tribes. I recently read an article that this 'history' factor is being challenged in Federal court. Animal rights groups who want to protect wild horses on BLM land and allow them to run free, claim they have new proof that horses were native to North America at least 1,000 years ago, then died out, and were reintroduced, making them 'native' and giving them the right to be protected.
Horses have had a variety of uses through the centuries. Pleasure riding came much later in history, as horses were first and foremost a means to work the land and transport people or goods from one place to another. They've been used to pull plows, carts, buggies, wagons, chariots, warriors, soldiers, homesteaders, moving cannons, and more.
Horses were first domesticated in the central Eurasian steppes about 6000 years ago according to estimations. Archaeologists found early bridles dating to 4000 BC in Eastern Europe as well as antler cheek-pieces and toggles for mouth pieces north of the Black Sea. Initially, these animals were used for food but at some point their strength was directed towards being led carrying goods, ridden to help hunt game and engage in warfare, and driven to work in the fields.3 By 500 BC, horses and their ability to carry men great distances at a quick speed had begun making their way into legend.
One of the most famous ancient horses was Buecephalus, owned by Alexander the Great. It is said that the giant black horse was brought before Prince Phillip II, but because it was so wild, he lost interest in it. Thirteen-year-old Alexander was captivated by the horse, and stated he'd pay for it himself if he couldn't tame it. No one believed he could do it, but he moved close to the horse, speaking soft, soothing words, then turned Buecephalus away from the sun so he could no longer see his own shadow. The boy believed that is what was frightening the stallion, and the horse immediately calmed. Alexander dropped his fluttering cloak out of the way as well, and went on to successfully tame the horse.
|Current Day Morgan Horse|
When I was a kid, I loved the Disney movie, Justin Morgan Had a Horse. As a kid, I always thought that was the name of the horse, but I later learned his name was actually Figure, who became the founding stallion of the awesome Morgan breed during the 1780s--one of the first truly American breed of horses. Morgans have influenced other major American breeds, including the American Quarter Horse, Tennessee Walking Horse and the Standardbred. During the 19th and 20th centuries, they were exported to other countries, including England, where they influenced the breeding of the Hackney horse.
We've owned mostly Arabian horses for the past 40 years. The picture at the top of this post is me with my favorite mare, Khaila, who was the last horse I owned, and who lived to an old age and passed away the summer of 2013. I now ride my son-in-law's Arabian mare, Sagar, when I go trail riding with my daughter, Marnee, who rides her Arabian, Adora.
Part of my love of horses led to writing a new four-book series (published by David C Cook), Horses and Friends, The first book, A Horse for Kate, released
March 1 this year, and the next, Silver Spurs, releases in two weeks on June 1. There will be two more following, titled Mystery Rider, September 1, and Blue Ribbon Trail Ride, Feb., 2016--books are available everywhere, in stores and online.
If you'd like to win a copy of A Horse for Kate, leave a comment, and for a second chance to win, go to Miralee's website (click HERE) and subscribe to Miralee's newsletter (please mention in your comment if you're already a subscriber which will get an extra entry too, or if you signed up today). Thank you!!!