December 13, 2013
A dog may be man’s best friend, but the horse wrote history. ~Author Unknown
There seems to be a national day for everything, and today is one day of recognition that I wanted to bring light to and celebrate with you! Today is the National Day of the Horse.
Horses have been thundering across the Earth’s landscape for more than 55 million years — much longer than the human species has existed. Once man and horse met, our two species became powerfully linked. Throughout history man has depended on the horse. The horse profoundly changed the ways we travel, work, fight wars and play.
Humans domesticated horses some 6,000 years ago, and over time, we have created more than 200 breeds, from the powerful Clydesdale to the graceful Arabian. As we have shaped horses to suit our needs on battlefields, farms, and elsewhere, these animals have shaped human history. They have also captured our imagination and hearts. Millions of people rely on horses as their spirited, dedicated, much adored companions. ~ American Museum of Natural History
Not only have we utilized horses for what they have to offer, but humanity has learned to appreciate horses for what they embody: freedom, spirit, adventure, perseverance, independence and drive. Horses are gentle and loyal, but fierce and strong. They are friends and companions to many humans and animals. They can be the ultimate travel companion for guardians who are willing to go the distance with them.
For all of these reasons and more, Congress designated December 13 as National Day of the Horse. The text of the resolution states:
Encouraging citizens to be mindful of the contribution of horses to the economy, history, and character of the United States and expressing the sense of Congress that a National Day of the Horse should be established.
Whereas the horse is a living link to the history of the United States;
Whereas, without horses, the economy, history, and character of the United States would be profoundly different;
Whereas horses continue to permeate the society of the United States, as witnessed on movie screens, on open land, and in our own backyards;
Whereas horses are a vital part of the collective experience of the United States and deserve protection and compassion;
Whereas, because of increasing pressure from modern society, wild and domestic horses rely on humans for adequate food, water, and shelter; and
Whereas the Congressional Horse Caucus estimates that the horse industry contributes well over $100,000,000,000 each year to the economy of the United States: Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress–
(1) encourages all citizens to be mindful of the contribution of horses to the economy, history, and character of the United States;
(2) expresses its sense that a National Day of the Horse should be established in recognition of the importance of horses to the Nation’s security, economy, recreation, and heritage; and
(3) urges the President to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States and interested organizations to observe National Day of the Horse with appropriate programs and activities.
The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire. ~Sharon Ralls Lemon
According to the American Horse Council:
- There are 9.2 million horses in the United States.
- 4.6 million Americans are involved in the industry as horse owners, service providers, employees and volunteers.
- 2 million people are horse guardians.
- The horse industry has an economic effect on the U.S.of $39 billion annually.
- The industry has a $102 billion impact on the U.S.economy when spending by industry suppliers and employees is factored in.
- The horse industry provides 460,000 full-time jobs.
No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.
- The horse evolved 55 million years ago.
- A close, early relative of the horse is Hyracotherium, also known as an eohippus. It was the size of a large fox. Hyracotherium stood 10 inches high at its shoulders and had four toes on its front feet and three on its back.
- The only surviving branch of the horse family is the genus Equus, which includes zebras, asses, and donkeys along with the horse.
Perissodactyla means “odd toed” and rhinos and tapirs belong to this order as well as horses.
- The Equidae family consists of horses, asses and zebras and there are 9 species within this genus and the domestic horse or pony is “Equus caballus”.
- The Equidae family have a mane, 40-42 teeth, and skulls with long nasal bones. They are herd animals and fast runners preferring to flee from danger rather than face it. The Equidae family are herbivores.
- Rhinoceroses and tapirs are the horse’s closest living relatives.
- Science shows us that the first domesticated horses were probably kept primarily as a source of food, rather than for work or for riding.
- A horse can rest and even doze while standing. A horse will lock one of its hind legs at the stifle joint (it’s basically the knee). A group of ligaments and tendons called the stay apparatus holds the leg in place with minimal muscle involvement. Horses will switch from leg to leg to prevent fatigue in the leg that is locked.
- A female horse is called a mare. A male horse is called a stallion. In the wild, the mare decides when the herd moves on and usually only one stallion will stay with a herd.
- Horses live in well-structured groups with clear followers and leaders. Without any human training, horses will line up behind a lead mare according to their rank in the herd, usually with a stallion guarding the rear.
- The famous mustangs of the American West, like many other “wild” populations, are actually considered feral, descended from escaped domesticated horses. The only truly wild horses live in Mongolia. They are called the Przewalski.
- The Przewalski horse went extinct in the wild but was reintroduced at the Seer Horse Reserve in Gobi Desert, Mongolia. These horses have managed to make an impressive comeback and their success is due in large part to the social structure of their herd. You can view some of their story in this video: The Wild Horses That Beat Extinction
You can discover more about these incredible Equines here: Equus “Story of the Horse”
A dog looks up to a man, A cat looks down on a man, But a patient horse looks a man in the eye and sees him as an equal.
American Museum of Natural History
Learn more fascinating facts about horses here!
Graphics created by Conscious Companion.