The Impact of the Horse – The Natural Horseman

By Steve Stevens

We have had over 6,000 years of history with the horse domesticated and around a hundred with the automobile. What if the horse had not existed? How would the West have been won and our great country explored? We can always go deeper and talk about civilizations being built and conquered. The horse is a symbol to so many of healing, strength, partnership and freedom.

Bhimbetka rock painting showing man riding on horse, India.  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bhimbetka_rock_paintng1.jpg    (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Subject to disclaimers.)
Bhimbetka rock painting showing man riding on horse, India. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bhimbetka_rock_paintng1.jpg
(licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Subject to disclaimers.)

Can you imagine watching a western without a horse? John Wayne comes bolting out of the canyons of Monument Valley on an ox or a cow. Ben-Hur’s chariot pulled by some giant goats. Alexander the Great conquering the world on the back of an emu. You get my point. Eight million horses died in the first World War alone. That’s not counting every other skirmish and battle since the horse has been domesticated.

A winner of a Roman chariot race, from the Red team. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chariot_racing#/media/File:Winner_of_a_Roman_chariot_race.jpg (public domain)
A winner of a Roman chariot race, from the Red team. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chariot_racing#/media/File:Winner_of_a_Roman_chariot_race.jpg (public domain)

What other animal has given more to the survival of man? I train horses for people, who in general, want to ride around in their pasture or arena, go on a trail ride or do an obstacle challenge. Most of the cattle ranchers I know use four wheelers these days. They certainly don’t go exploring and settling new worlds on the horse anymore. I know the horse has transitioned more for a means of entertainment for the human, but the horse can still be seen being used to search for people in places that can’t be reached by vehicle, used for wellness and healing, and can be found on some ranches gathering cattle and checking fence.

Unfortunately, the human masses don’t think they have the need for our most noble creature like they once did. What I have seen the horse do personally for people is to heal from loss, build confidence where none was before, and give some humans purpose. In the state of the world where many children would rather play on an IPad then go outside and play…In the United States, where the rate of obesity and health issues are growing at an alarming rate.

A bakery delivery wagon in Queensland, Australia.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wagon#/media/File:Baker%27s-van-r.jpg (public domain)
A bakery delivery wagon in Queensland, Australia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wagon#/media/File:Baker%27s-van-r.jpg
(public domain)

Where we are divided over religion and politics more than ever? Maybe we need the horse as much now than ever before. The horse unites people. Gives them hope and treats each human as an equal. They don’t judge us. They could care less if we are rich, handsome, ugly or weak. They just want our comfort and leadership. Maybe, just maybe, if we listened and studied the horse we could grow more as humans and as a society. Every time I ride or am around a horse, I never want to forget what the horse has given to mankind or what their potential is for future generations. Special thanks to a friend who sent me a great video on the horse this morning that inspired me to write this week’s column.

An American soldier demonstrating a gas mask for his horse during World War I. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horses_in_World_War_I#/media/File:Gasmask_for_man_and_horse.jpeg   (public domain)
An American soldier demonstrating a gas mask for his horse during World War I. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horses_in_World_War_I#/media/File:Gasmask_for_man_and_horse.jpeg (public domain)