The Story of the Horse

The story of the horse is as old as the story of man. There isn’t another being on our planet that has played as significant a role in the evolution of man or has forged as great a bond with man through the ages as the horse, Equus caballus.

From the beginning of time, the American Indians have forged an unbreakable bond with the horse, allowing them to become nomadic and recognizing their spiritual place amongst man. 

Horse's eye for story of the horse
horses and the environment
CANA FOUNDATION American Indian Horse BLOG

Horses have fought our wars, built our cities and healed our wounded with therapeutic programs.

Their niche as a keystone species and a hind gut grazer places them as important environmental architects of our lands.

But our government chases down our wild horses with helicopters and warehouses them in government holding facilities, separating family bands and taking away their freedom. The BLM goes against their political mandate so that special interests groups can use the very land they call home to benefit from, destroying the land, environment and the animals.

To learn more about wild horse gathers and how your tax dollars are being spent go to wildhorseeducation.org.

The relationships and bonds that the horse has with man is mystical, romantic, totalitarian and practical, but most of all it is forever…

Wild horse roundups

What is the real story of the horse?

Ross MacPhee Cana Foundation

Ross MacPhee

Cana Foundation

Here are twelve key facts related to the horse’s history.
 
  • The earliest members of the horse family, known as Equidae (equids), arose in North America 53 million years ago, only some 13 million years after the demise of the dinosaurs.
  • This places equids among the oldest groups of North American mammals that have survived into modern times. 
  • After making their initial appearance, North American equids diversified and flourished in an unbroken stretch until 11,000 years ago. 
  • Fossil records indicate the at the end of this interval, Equus populations were living throughout North America–from Alaska to Central America, from California to the Atlantic Coast. They were also in South America, roaming the grasslands and savannahs of Venezuela and the pampas of Argentina. 
  • On several occasions, equids of various kinds crossed from North America to Asia via the Bering land bridge, finding new lands and opportunities. 
  • Once in Asia, they dispersed into and diversified throughout the Old World. Everywhere horses went, they prospered. Various lineages differentiated into some of the species we know today, such as zebras and donkeys. 
  • But then something happened… In one of the greatest natural history mysteries of all time, most of the large animals (or megafauna) living in North America disappeared around 11,500 years ago
  • The ancestors of the modern horse Equus caballus were among the disappeared. But thanks to earlier dispersals, horse species with North American roots managed to survive in Eurasia, where they were eventually domesticated.
  • This is why we have horses today. Unlike these other megafaunal species, when horses came back home 500 years ago it was as though they had never left, biologically speaking.
  • It may seem surprising that horses would have disappeared completely from their original homeland 11,000 years ago, along with mammoths, mastodons and many others, but as yet there is no good evidence for their persistence anywhere in the New World after that date.

Read the full Story of the Horse.

 
Follow us @CanaFoundation to learn more about the “Back Home Project” as we search for concluding fossil evidence to substantiate that the horse is a native species to North America.

*Credit: World map in green from the exhibition “The Horse” produced by the American Museum of Natural History.