The History of Horses

This history of horses will reveal how horses developed from their ancestors to horses of today. It will also examine the types of horses living today as well as their cousins.

The first near ancestor of horse evolved around 45 to 55 million years ago. This Equidae ancestor has been named Hyracotherium and unlike modern horses it had four toes. As well as another ancestor Mesohippus they were present for a couple of million years before extinction.

After these ancestors, another single-toed ancestor evolved. Along with different foot structure, it had stronger teeth for consuming tougher plants. Due to its ability to travel long distances to find food, it spread across Europe, Asia and North America. This ancestor later became extinct in America and the amount of them decreased severely.

Domestication of horses occurred around 4000 BC. The practice of taming wild horses is said to have been wide spread within thousand years. The only wild horse of today, Prezwalski horse of Mongolia is also said to be the oldest established breed of horses in the world.

After domestication became wide spread, other breeds started to develop. One of the most prominent breeds of this time was the Arabian horse which has later influenced several other horse breeds.

When the American continent was discovered, settlers from Europe brought horses with them which re-inhabited the areas previously grazed by the now extinct horses. The imported horses included many European breeds which led to the development of American horse breeds.

These days there are over 300 horse breeds in the world. They can roughly be divided into hot-bloods such as Thoroughbreds, cold-blods such as the Shire horse and warm-bloods which are a cross-bred of the other two. In addition to this there are countless variations, half-breds developed all the time.

Other Equus species of today include donkeys and zebras. All the members of the equus family can cross-breed but they seldom produce offspring able for reproduction.

The history of horses provides us with some insight into how horses developed and spread around the globe. Horses have established their position in society and even though the Industrial Revolution made many breeds obsolete as machines and tractors took over, they are still used as companions and for various games and sports.

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