The rise and fall and rise again of the Heavy Horse

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Horse and Man

It was during the Pleistocene era the first recognizable horse arrived, in Asia Africa and Europe. At this time America's the horse only existed in South America.

The horse existed for many years alongside prehistoric man, and ever since the history of man and the horse is one of mutual collaboration. No one knows when the horse first attracted mans attention as a food item, but as the relationship developed it became clear this animal could be more useful if it could be tamed.

The horse's first task was probably as a pack animal, at this time man was still a nomadic hunter and horses may have been invaluable on the yearly migration to the summer hunting grounds, and in the autumn south to the winter quarters.

As agriculture developed it spread through Europe and Asia, and man discovered the larger breeds of horse could plough alongside the oxen. The big breakthrough was man discovered how he could breed larger horses. It was at this stage, he found he could replace the pack horses burden and ride the horse.

The development of Riding was a big deal, trade expanded and man could travel further and colonize uninhabited areas. But trade also demanded pack horses and the trend to bread larger and stronger horses began in earnest.

As there are today horses would have existed in a variety of sizes, and as they were of the same genus breeding and development of horse types was possible.

Although this development would take some time, prehistoric man was intelligent enough to undertake the systematic development of riding and light load pack horses. *During this period the wheel was invented and carts and wagons started to develop*, trade routes expanded and Kingdoms and Empires were founded.

The development of a more organized society and the ending of the nomadic life called for a further development in use mans best friend.
Owing to the development of basic roads the first wheeled vehicles appeared and with that development, this would have exposed the fact the basic horse of the time was too small. This state of affairs can be confirmed by the stages in the development of the chariot.

Early chariots were propelled by 4 or occasionally 6 horses, this is a testament to the lack of horsepower that individual horses could supply. The Celts providing a good example of the flowering of the early chariot.

The big breakthrough came with the arrival of the early empires in China, Africa Greece and Rome who independently developed mounted armies. Horses were simply selectively bread and slowly became bigger and stronger. As stronger horses became available the armies quickly developed cavalry. The bigger and stronger riding horses were also used to establish the first postal networks.

The chariot would gradually fall out of favour when horses could carry a rider. The cavalry horse appeared and took its place in world history. The riding horse had finally became established.

Although there were still many pack and draught horses they were not much larger than the riding horses of the period. The need for a heavier more powerful horse was becoming apparent, agriculture and trade horse needed more horsepower. And all this before the fall of Troy.

*
Part 2

Army's were destined to evolve and breed suitable cavalry horses until the 19th-century when it became obvious that the horse had no place on the modern battlefield.


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