Today we will talk about the origins of equus horses or, if you prefer, simply horses, according to many the most beautiful and elegant animals in the world. For thousands of years they have been faithful companions of man and helped him in the hardest jobs.
The origin of horses is, in our opinion, a very interesting topic, in fact for several decades many researchers have been trying to trace the exact origins of this noble animal.
Characteristics of horses
Horses are domestic perisodactyl mammals that belong to the equidae family, they are herbivores with a great bearing, with long and arched necks, and with a long mane. The puppy of the horse is called a colt. Horses with an age not exceeding one year can be defined as foals.
Horses are prey to predators, so they have a strong instinct to escape, even if cornered without any escape they are able to face danger. Most breeds are fast, agile and have great endurance. They are also very sociable and establish very strong bonds both with humans and with other animals.
The origin of horses
We must go back 55 million years, when the horse’s ancestor, the hehippus, lived in North America. It was a small herbivorous mammal that lived during the era of the Eocene and from which all horses are thought to descend. It was very small with a height ranging from 20 to 40 cm, with 4 fingers in the front limbs and 3 in the rear limbs.
In size and appearance, it could in some ways resemble a dog, but later evolved increasing in size, the fingers disappeared and became monodactyl. The hooves appeared on their paws, making it easier to escape from predators.
Later he developed the jaw and evolved to arrive at the equus, the name from which the equine term comes and from which the family of horses descends.
Emigration to Asia
Due to the bad weather conditions, the equus moved from North America to Eurasia. It is precisely in this area that scientists claim to have lived the extinct wild horse, the most recent ancestor of domestic horses.
The horse is traced back, as we know it today, to about two million years ago, that is to the Pleistocene epoch.
The Przewalski, which comes from Asia, is one of the genetic fathers of the current horses, which subsequently spread to the African continent. Today there are only 300 specimens that live in captivity.
Horses in different civilizations
If there is a civilization that has given much importance to horses, it is certainly the Roman one. The Romans in fact, engaged in breeding and training this beautiful animal and also used it as a pack animal or work animal in general. The various civilizations that invaded the Iberian Peninsula succeeded in developing and growing their farms, until they created a real industry, thanks above all to the Arabs.
Today the horse continues to be an animal much appreciated as much as loved. Since it was domesticated, it has been used on multiple fronts, especially for working the fields and as a means of transport. Currently the situation has changed a little, in fact the horses are used above all for various sports and exhibitions.
Some examples of classic training are racing, show jumping and simple horse riding. Today horses are also used for different therapies, which have proved to be particularly effective for the treatment of many disabilities.
According to the latest statistics, in 2007 there were 58 million horse specimens in the world, of which around 9 million in the United States alone. The chronicles instead tell us that the Russian Empire was the country with the most horses in history, with as many as 35 million specimens.