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Impact of The Horse

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    Posted: 15 Mar 2014 at 05:35
In a post on this forum recently, there was discussion as to the Urheimat of the Horse.
 
The importance of this animal, in my view, is vastly underestimated throughout history, yet, if it were not for the horse, development of mankind would have been very different.
 
I found this article on the Ancient History web site. It squarely places domestication of the horse in the Steppe area.
 

This overview examines the impact of horsepower on Old World society over the last 6,000 years. Analysis of man’s symbiosis with the domesticated horse necessarily takes the reader to regions remote from urban centers and pays special attention to mobile elements of nomadic society, too often deemed marginal or transitory. The discussion first grapples with the question of horse domestication on the steppes c. 4000 BC, a topic long fraught with bitter controversy. With the recent dissolution of the Soviet Union, however, Russian scholarship became more accessible, and rapport has grown warmer between western and eastern researchers. In light of new evidence and new interpretations, our discussion will attempt to summarize at a high level the salient points of scholarly debate: the general location at which initial horse domestication took place; the manner in which domestication was accomplished; and way in which the horse underwent the transition from being a food-providing animal to its transport role in pack, draft, and riding.

By examining early Indo-European migrations and those of later ethnic groups, we will note both the important adaptations that enabled intrepid agro-pastoralists to traverse the hostile continental interior and the momentous impact of mobile equestrianism on cultures beyond the steppes. While it is true that mobile horsemen relentlessly harassed the imperial armies of sedentary states, it is also true that their far-ranging routes across forbidding steppes, deserts, and mountains afforded rapid transport of distant trade goods, both essential and exotic. With trade went cultural exchange: adoption of different cultigens, implementation of new technologies, introduction of foreign inventions, dissemination of ideas, diffusion of religions, the spread of science and art. The history of the horse explores this dual reality: on the one hand, in battle the destructiveness of the warhorse, yet on the other, in the wake of conquest, the constructiveness of horsepower in greatly extending the scale and complexity of civilization. The politico-military and economic importance of the horse will thus be examined in the rise of the Hittite, Achaemenid, Chinese, Arab, and Mongol empires.

Sino-Platonic Papers, No.190 (20)
 
Some members may maintain that the horse was first domesticated in Arabia, or elsewhere.
 
My position is that the Pontic Steppe, as alluded to in the above article, is the home of horse domestication, but I would like some discussion on where the horse first came from, if not from the Steppes.


Edited by toyomotor - 16 Mar 2014 at 01:04
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Panther Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Mar 2014 at 22:34
Originally posted by toyomotor toyomotor wrote:

 
My position is that the Pontic Steppe, as alluded to in the above article, is the home of horse domestication, but I would like some discussion on where the horse first came from, if not from the Steppes.


The current thinking is from the Americas.  It is believed the last of the native America horses had died out toward the end of the Pleistocene era.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Mar 2014 at 01:19
Panther:
Yes, thank you for that. I've had it explained in detail to me by our feathered friend in a different thread.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Mar 2014 at 02:07
Apropos of absolutely not much at all, we haven't considered the impact of the horse on methane production as a contribution to the Global Warming discussion.
 
When the discussions reach the production of methane, cattle are often mentioned as major contributors, but never horses.
 
Funny that!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Panther Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Mar 2014 at 03:38
Originally posted by toyomotor toyomotor wrote:

Panther:
Yes, thank you for that. I've had it explained in detail to me by our feathered friend in a different thread.


My condolences. 














(Just kidding) Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Panther Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Mar 2014 at 03:40
Originally posted by toyomotor toyomotor wrote:

Apropos of absolutely not much at all, we haven't considered the impact of the horse on methane production as a contribution to the Global Warming discussion.
 
When the discussions reach the production of methane, cattle are often mentioned as major contributors, but never horses.
 
Funny that!


Probably because researchers hadn't thought enough of it yet to ask for a grant from the government.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Mar 2014 at 06:30
Originally posted by Panther Panther wrote:



Probably because researchers hadn't thought enough of it yet to ask for a grant from the government.
Aha, therein lies the topic for a new thread.Clap
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Viewpoint Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2016 at 19:52
I think that the domestication of the horse was an event of massive importance, comparable with the adoption of farming and the smelting of iron. There is an interesting conundrum which has been thrown up in the last couple of years. It has long been known that Europeans were descended from two separate groups; "Early European Farmers" and "Western Hunter Gatherers". Geneticists have recently identified a third group, "Ancient North Eurasians". North Europeans have considerably more genes from this group than South Europeans, and it is found at high levels among Native Americans. Interestingly, in Britain A.N.E. is found at significantly higher levels in Scotland north of the Forth/Clyde and in Ireland. The highest levels of all are found in the north-east of Scotland. Geneticists are almost certain that A.N.E. arrived well after farming, but it seems interesting that the descendants of later Celtic iron smelters (South Wales?) and the Saxon and Norse invaders (Eastern England?) have lower levels of it. Could an early form of Pictish/Proto-Celtic have arrived with people who came directly from the steppe and took over the whole of Britain and Ireland with their horse power, only to be driven back by later invaders with their metal weapons?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Sep 2016 at 23:46
WE do not have much perspective on the domestication of the horse, although we may have reached a time when the impact of the horse is less relevant to society.  Horses are used for entertainment these days, except for some examples of very rough terrain.  Horses are no longer that important for many areas of the world.  Motorized transport has displaced horses to a great extent.  The use of dogs in hunting has likewise changed, but dogs have achieved a new usefulness as companion animals, sensing when someone with PTSD needs comfort, or when a diabetic needs insulin, bomb sniffing, drug sniffing, etc.  But yes, the influence of horses was huge, but we (I) have very little way of judging its significance.  Being outside of that paradigm.  At a certain point, the chariot was adopted, at another, the stirrup.  Heavily armored calvary with lances used as shock troops could not happen until the later was used.  The horse borne archers of the Mongols must have been amazing to see and terrifying to face.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote caldrail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Sep 2016 at 10:36
Domestication of the horse was not completely world changing as other animals were better suited for agricultural use. In warfare, horses were restricted to chariot operations, admittedly effectively, until around 700BC when cavalry started riding horseback. I would not rate the stirrup as a world changing invention either - it does not materially aid the rider in the manner habitually asserted and for the most part only makes riding horses more comfortable,. They do not provide the support for the rider in actual fighting that pundits repeat time and again. It was the saddle that made the difference - that was the connection between rider and horse and any support for the rider in combat came from a firm and secure seat.

Edited by caldrail - 03 Sep 2016 at 10:40
http://www.unrv.com/forum/blog/31-caldrails-blog/
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Sep 2016 at 11:33
The horse was of universal benefit where ever it was used. The actual impact is inestimable.

To speak of the horse as purely a means of transport for humans is to denigrate the animal in so many ways.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Sep 2016 at 22:51
It is my understanding that stirrups were necessary for a heavily armored knight to collide with another heavily armored knight and for at least one to stay on his horse.  Saddle was probably necessary for that also.  No?  Of course, that need for the stirrups makes 'perfect' sense, but doesn't mean its true.  Please correct any misapprehension we might have Caldrail.

I know that I don't have much appreciation for the impact of horses, but then again I am allergic, and so i never got bit by that bug.  I am inclined to agree with toyomotor that their value is inestimateable.  If for no other reason than once upon a time you could get drunk at the bar, and blind drunk you could ride your horse home.  Might fall off and break your neck, but no problems with DUIs<grin>.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Sep 2016 at 02:49
Sorry Franciscosan, but that may have been the case in the US, but not in Australia.

There was an offence of Being Drunk in Charge of a Horse on the statutes until about the 1960's/70's.

Also, Being Drunk in Charge of a Bicycle. Big smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Sep 2016 at 01:28
My information is from the most impeccable sources, spaghetti westerns, and old episodes of the Rifleman<grin>.

I think that it has only been in the last 30-40 years that drunk driving has been taken very seriously, (with the rise of MADD), before then I imagine it was something that the police were fairly lenient about, especially if you were 'somebody' in the local hierarchy, so to speak.  So yes, there probably were offenses on the books for horses and bicycles, but the police were probably more 'understanding' about it.
"Drunk" and "under the influence" are two different things as well.  We are much more conscious of the impairment of any intoxication while driving a motor vehicle, not just drunk.  Colorado has legalized recreational marijuana, and so now has a problem with what it means to be under the influence of marijuana to the extent that someone is impaired for driving a vehicle.  There is not quite the equivalent of a blood alcohol test for marijuana.  And since it is legal, you can't just arrest anyone who happens to have smoked a little, and is driving.
There is perhaps an advantage to allowing medical marijuana.  Marijuana treats pain among other things, and so there is in Colorado (and other places) a decrease in the use of opioids.

Do you know how to define a New Mexican drinking and driving problem?  Not enough six packs between towns.  Read that in the Wall Street Journal years ago.
btw, MADD is Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a non-profit organization calling for stiffer penalties.  

Back to the topic of horses, we complain about pollution with cars, can you image what it would be like if everybody still rode horses, you would be stepping in __it all the time, it would be much more of a hygiene problem than a little smog.  I will admit that horses are amazing animals, but personally with my allergies I would not have much use for them.  I guess though that special forces used them in Afghanistan (a lot of up and down, off-road), so they still have a useful place in some sectors of society.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Sep 2016 at 07:58
Franciscosan said,
Quote "  I guess though that special forces used them in Afghanistan (a lot of up and down, off-road), so they still have a useful place in some sectors of society."

I've seen a lot of TV News clips etc and I've seen US SpecFor troops on Trail Bikes and Quads. I don't know about horses, but I would have thought that horses would not be used by the military these days.

From what I've seen on TV, it appears to me that the US Army and Marines have a specialised vehicle for just about every eventuality, and if you're sending your men into the path of danger, they should have every technology available.


Edited by toyomotor - 05 Sep 2016 at 07:58
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Sep 2016 at 00:19
I could be wrong, I have been wrong before (surprise, surprise).

I think actually the image I have is something where special forces were in country before the invasion of American ground troops, on the one hand they were using horses to scout, on the other they were using GPS to call down B-52 strikes.  So you have this dichotomy of primitive and high tech at the same time.  The horses were a matter of convenience and hardly standard issue.

But it is a faint image, I am sure I saw it (if I 'saw' it) in a magazine that talked about the dichotomy of 'primitive' and high tech.  The 'place' to look might be when special forces were on 'loan' to the CIA, _early_ on, again, before the regular army moved in.  Or I could be imagining things:P

Of course, a horse can go places where a wheeled vehicle probably can't.  On the other hand a man can go where a horse can't and with helicopters, you can get a lot of places.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote caldrail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Sep 2016 at 12:45
Quote It is my understanding that stirrups were necessary for a heavily armored knight to collide with another heavily armored knight and for at least one to stay on his horse. Saddle was probably necessary for that also. No? Of course, that need for the stirrups makes 'perfect' sense, but doesn't mean its true. Please correct any misapprehension we might have Caldrail.

Some people give the stirrup all sorts of qualities. I even saw one documentary presenter on tv make a hilarious gaff concerning them.

The stirrup is not a fixed platform, it's a loose hanging accoutrement, and only the weight of the feet rest on them. They do not add to 'shock value' - that's impossible, physically, with too many centres of rotation involved and their peripheral location.

The saddle on the other hand is the point where the rider and horse connect. A better saddle improves battle performance whereas all the stirrup does is make riding more comfortable. A collision (god forbid, and cavalry riders avoid collisions like the plague - note that ancient cavalry habitually fought in loose order to allow the enemy to pass without collision. Bumping into a solitary foot soldier isn't so bad. Colliding with a whole regiment of them is pretty much a disaster, assuming you can persuade the horse to do it) is unaffected by the stirrup. Again, it's the saddle that matters. You are just as likely to be unhorsed with or without stirrups.

Regarding the impact of the horse - the effect was mostly slow to impact on human society. Some tribal cultures took to them quite quickly, but remember that the horse is a high maintenance animal. It's only since the last few hundred years that the horse has been bred/used for pulling burdens (chariots excepted - they did this as soon as the ancients realised a horse could do that and chariots were used from distant antiquity to around 700BC, when horseback cavalry begins to appear.

Edited by caldrail - 11 Sep 2016 at 12:50
http://www.unrv.com/forum/blog/31-caldrails-blog/
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Sep 2016 at 03:43
In the mosaic from Pompei of Alexander and the Persian King in battle, the Persian King is riding in a chariot, whether it was used at all other than a command center, I don't know.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote caldrail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Sep 2016 at 11:44
That was for status as much as anything else. A command vehicle? No, the sort of battlefield management we tend to take for granted these days did not evolve until gunpowder emerged as the common means of offensive activity. The Persian king would have ridden his chariot in battle along with his unit of elite cavalry/guards, also chariot riders, and like most ancient armies the elements either followed a basic plan outlined prior to the event or responded to situations individually. Systems of communication to deliver new orders and coordinate armies weren't even developed by the later better organised Romans either. Now that doesn't mean the Persian King couldn't have ordered someone to deliver a message when he had the time to see what was going on elsewhere - we know this sort of thing went on (and the Romans say it wasn't a reliable means of organisation) or simply rode over to lead a unit on-the-spot. But the idea that he was, as I often say, pointing a dagger at a map is pure Hollywood.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Oct 2016 at 23:25
Hollywood had to steal the idea (of pointing a dagger at a map) from somewhere.  Of course, maps were probably too expensive to mutilate with daggers.  I am just saying that most "original ideas" are probably stolen from somewhere.

Was the "pony-express" original to the USA? or did they use horse relays elsewhere before that?  How far back do they go?  It seems like before a certain time the horse for riding was an aristocratic thing, the American West and cowboys (or gauchos) seem to be a democratization of the horse.  Yes? no?  Of course, there was no calvary on the American side of the American revolution.

I get a laugh out of the title of this thread, when I read "impact of the horse," 
I think of a friend who had his foot stepped on. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Oct 2016 at 00:53
I would think that ever since humans domesticated the horse it would have been used as a means of sending messages from point A to point B, be they written or verbal.

So, no, I don't think that the USA "invented' the Pony Express.

As for horse riding being an aristocratic thing, I doubt it. The horse was ideal for so many different tasks that it would have been used by the so-called "middle classes" as well as the rich.The poor, of course, would only have had use of horses for work related tasks such as ploughing etc.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote caldrail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Oct 2016 at 10:55
Quote Hollywood had to steal the idea (of pointing a dagger at a map) from somewhere. Of course, maps were probably too expensive to mutilate with daggers. I am just saying that most "original ideas" are probably stolen from somewhere

It was substitution, using contemporary ideals in period dress. The very same thing is found on Wikipedia, for instance, where 'ranks' in the Roman legions are discussed. The context is modern in the text - something I cannot agree with - purely because the writers have no evidence of anything alternative or period.
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