The Horse-Human Relationship Throughout History

The Horse-Human Relationship Throughout History

Horses are incredibly majestic, intelligent, and sentient creatures that are strongly associated with the American West, but humanity and horses share an incredibly long history that goes back thousands of years. While Deb Lee Carson’s wild mustang photography captures modern horses immaculately, let’s look at the horse-human relationship throughout history to better understand what these incredible creatures have done for us.

Horse Domestication

Humans and horses have been essential companions for thousands and thousands of years—since as early as 10,200 BC. As humans tamed and domesticated these wild horses, horses would become more closely entwined with humans as companions. They would trust and rely on us the same way they would their herd in the wild. Essential for daily labor, transportation, and even war, horses became a vital part of human society. Though horses are no longer the backbone of society, we’d never be where we are today without their help. Today, most domesticated horses are companions and therapy animals. Though we use horses less and less for labor, the long history of horse-human relationships has not disappeared—horses have become an integral part of our cultural heritage throughout America.

Horses and Emotional Intelligence

Horses are incredibly intelligent and emotional beings. They’re one of the few rare animals capable of understanding human emotion and communicating their own emotions back. This makes them incredibly effective therapy animals because they react to our emotions and have become a source of calm and soothing companionship for humans. In turn, horses have come to rely on humans just as much as other horses for socializing and maintaining their own happiness.

Humans Identify With Horses

Through our long relationship with horses, humanity has come to identify and see itself in these majestic creatures. Humans and horses both operate within a similar hierarchy in our societies and herds. Take family structure, for example—male and female horses stay together and care for their foals until they’re ready to leave the herd. Similarly, humans and horses are both incredibly social creatures, actively seeking out companionship and exhibiting a wide range of expressions and methods of communication.