How the Horse Has Shaped Civilizations

Publisher: Vintage Canada
Full of wisdom, passion and wonder, Horse is the utterly fascinating and enlightening story of horses and humans from the beginning of time to the present.

Ever since the dawn of human history, horses have held a mystical sway over our imagination: we respect and revere them like no other animal. We have conceived of them as both domesticated and free, both belonging to our civilization and to the wild. At first, ours was an encounter of death, as prehistoric humans hunted horses all across the steppes of Asia, and throughout Europe. But they also painted horses full of grace and beauty on the walls of their caves, and gave them a central place in their songs and sacred rituals. Long before the invention of writing and the wheel, horses began to shape the way humans lived.

Drawing on archaeology, biology, art, literature and ethnography, Horse illuminates the relationship between humans and horses throughout history – from Alexander the Great to Genghis Khan, from the Moors in Spain and the knights in France to the great horse cultures of native America. From the Ice Age to the Industrial Age, horses have provided sustenance, transportation, status, companionship and the ability to establish and expand empires. Included are stories of horses at work, at war and at play, both wild horses and famous horses, in paintings, books and movies.

Horse looks at the ancient traditions of horse trading and horse stealing, horse racing and games with horses, and at rodeos and circuses, jumping and dressage. It compares techniques of training and traditions of breeding, from the Persians to the Nez Perce, from Lippizaners to Percherons, and ponders the intelligence of horses, their skill and strength as well as their grace and beauty.

From the Hardcover edition.


Chapter 1

Out of the Mist
Horses and Humans in the Americas

It snowed every day from early December to late February, which was rare in the northern range of the Rockies; and the temperature went down to fifty below, which wasn’t. The winter of 1932-33 had been the worst that anyone could...
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“A grand and lofty survey of the relationship between man and Equus. . . . Horse is evocative, well-written and researched with an obvious depth of feeling.”
Edmonton Journal

“Two categories of people will thoroughly dig author J. Edward Chamberlin’s lovingly rendered and insanely detailed Horse: How the Horse Has Shaped Civilizations–those who know nothing about (but admire) horses, and those who can’t get enough of them. Both will voraciously consume this swiftly moving story and walk away sated.”
Toronto Star

Horse offers a fresh portrait of human history before the mechanized age, when animals, one in particular, really mattered. . . . Prehistory and history, myth and war and trivia, real characters and imagined ones: the whole assemblage trots along smoothly and seamlessly over time and across continents.”
The Globe and Mail