The last 100 years

Few or us alive today can remember the times when all commerce was served by the horse on land and ships by sea. Yet until less than a hundred years ago, before machines were invented, the horse was mans great partner. To understand how important the horse was in the world up until then, you would have to imagine removing the oil supply from today's world and watch the effect it would have on our lives and world trade. Horses were the very oil of commerce and the tools of war. Until after the first world war, when they were progressively abandoned, as machines took their place throughout the developing countries.

"Look back at our struggle for freedom,

Trace our present day's strength to its source;

And you'll find man's pathway to glory

Is strewn with the bones of a horse."


The bond between man and horse.

Over 5000 years a strong bond has been developed between man and horse, a bond that has helped the horse survive the period of his changing role in our society. Those who loved horses most, held their trust with them over this period of change, helping them to improve their role and position in most countries, from that of commercial slave, to that of willing servant. Nowadays the horse is more often found where people are enjoying themselves, whether at the racetracks, on the polo grounds, on holiday or at the Pony Club, with the familys children. Indeed they have so successfully changed their role, that it can be said that there are more horses and ponies in some countries now than there was in 1902. Of course, there are a few more people too. However, it must still be remembered that they are still a beast of burden in some countries and in some cases need our help.

Why do people love horses ?

What is the bond that holds man and horse together ? It would be hard to explain. It is probably best seen in its simplest form, where children develop a passion for horses when no one in their family rides. Or in the smiles on the faces of disabled riders when they come for their weekly session with the horse.

What value is there in learning to ride ?

Apart from sheer enjoyment, we can see great value in learning to ride in our present society, because the qualities that a rider must develop are timeless. They are the same as those learnt by children in ancient Greece or Rome long before Jesus Christ was borne. A fine rider in any age must develop such qualities as an attentive and patient nature, develop feeling and consideration for the horse, yet their determination and courage will also be stretched to its limits from time to time. Finally, riders must learn to communicate without words, in a universal language of feeling and touch, before the horse will do their bidding. All these would seem to be qualities essential for those wishing to succeed in any century.

It was once said;

"Better to give a Prince a good horse than jewels, power or riches,

for a horse will not recognise the Prince for anything other than a man.

By the time the Prince has developed the qualities which make him a fine rider,

the horse will have made of him, a King among men."

Riding may be the Sport of Kings and indeed some would claim The King of Sports, but luckily, it is open to all of us whether Prince or pauper to become fine horsemen, should we so desire.

Article by John Crawford

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Updated: October 2005.