Friday, September 24, 2010

What made them think it was a good idea....

I always ask clients a question and it is usually the same question.And of course that question leads to a myriad of other questions and usually there is no real clear answers.

Who was the first man/woman to ever throw a leg over a horse?

And why?

What made them think that this was a good idea?

Why didn't the ride a elk instead?

Could you imagine hearing the ring announcer say "Lope your Elk please"?

I always picture two stone age cavemen sitting on a hill daring each other...

'Dude. go for it'

'No you go for it, I dare you'

'You go for it, I double dog dare you'

It's funny that there is no real definitive answer as to when horses were first domesticated , thought there are pictures of them appearing in cave art from 30,000 years ago.And they were clearly wild animals, mostly hunted for meat. But the first known use of horses as transportation was for chariots 2000 years BC and there is increasing evidense that horses were domesticated 4000 to 3500 BCE in the Eurasion Steppes. So certainly someone had to be the first to climb on a horses back.

Was he/she liquored up and did they do it on a bet?

I can only imagine theirs spouse out there saying "Go ahead and get on, but if you get hurt don't come crying to me".

What I really wonder about though, is what has become of the horses that we domesticated. Those that used the horses as transportation and as a, for lack of better words 'tool' to get work done really did care for them. They revered the horse in all his/her glory. They treated their horses as my father treats his car.

They knew that if they did not take care of the horse that they would not be able to go anywhere or get their jobs done.

And there are times that I think that the first people that got domesticated the horses truly did them a great injustice. Look what we have done to the horses that we so love.

Did they use things such as Chain Gag bits or Kimberwicks?


But one would think that if they used a harsher bit when the horses were first domesticated that it was out of ignorance and not to get the horses to set his head. As they learned to work with the horse,certainly they figured that you can soften and supple a horse with the use of a lighter bit. However,I tend to think that when man first started to domesticate horses, he used a halter when he started to ride rather than a bit. But I could be wrong, that has happened in the past.

I imagine that as they started to work with the horse that perhaps they looked at the mechanics of the movement of the horses.And as they learned how the horse moved they used that knowledge to make themselves better horsemen. The trainers of today were not the first to discover that of the horse drives from behind, then it makes the work is easier.( On a personal note, I have a profound fascination of the mechanics of horses movement,and it has been a tremendous help throughout my career. Watching the movement of every horse indivually.)

What has changed form the days of old, is the invention of money, the Horse Show and the show mom/ show dad!

Next Friday we discuss who was the lucky bastard that first nailed a shoe to a horse foot and what he was on when he did it........ Poor Bastard!

By the way everyone, there are only 91 shopping days left until Christmas!


kestrel said...

Horses as tools are usually better treated because they have a PUrpose. It reminds me of some of the problems today's kids face. They are not NEEDED by the family, so they tend to get ignored a lot, and looked upon as a liability rather than an asset to the group.


Regan said...

Just mostly sticking my nose in here instead of commenting on anything profound. If you were wondering about how we ended up with the final step of hitching up and then riding horses, it is my understanding through the limited research available that horses were domesticated the same as most livestock for their meat and milk. From there, it's a matter of speculation as to why we ended up having a horse pull things instead of a yak or a moose! If the equine mind has not evolved significantly over the ages, I'd imagine it did have to do with them possessing the best blend of intelligence, fear and confidence needed in a work animal. Can you imagine trying to get a moody moose to behave by being "firm" with it??

On the more profound things mentioned, it's true that we have taken horse abuse to some bizarre levels in this day and age. Not that it was justifiable to make the horse work in every case, but before the 16th century, it was rare for someone do to something cruel to a horse just for "show".

On that note, however, some of our ancestors have been much more cruel than us and some have been much more kind. We've all seen war bits! But even among the earliest days of trying to force horses to do our bidding, there have been those who understand how to make the horse work without pain. Xenophon's "The Art of Horsemanship" is the first record of the idea that beating a horse for spooking only validates why he should be afraid :)
I'm rambling, but I've lurked on your page for a while and I love history so I had to comment :)

JohnieRotten said...


Your comments are most welcome here and thank you for reading.

I to love history and anthropology. It is true that livestock was domesticated for human consumption rather than work. I also agree that our ancestors could also be cruel. But one can always hope that for the most part that was not the case.

fernvalley01 said...

too deep for me, will just watch and learn!

JohnieRotten said...


Have a little fun with it. We can always make up a story about two casement and the Black Stallion
I guess they were marooned on a deserted idland with Gilligan and there was this black stallion......

Don't ask me where that's coming from. I have know idea.

onmyway said...

Why do men do any number of crazy stunts?
To impress a girl.
How many times did that first guy have to climb back on?
Were the people standing aroung laughing?

fernvalley01 said...

Best I can do right now is "JR , you're an Ass! " Will think on it a while and get back in the game later

JohnieRotten said...

Thanks FV

CharlesCityCat said...


This is an interesting topic to me and not just about horses. I find myself wondering about lots of things like this.

I think Onmyway has a good point there, probably some Cro Magnon man trying to impress some chick. When he got tossed a few times, she laughed and went back to the tribe to tell all of the other Cro Magnon chicks just how dumb Grog was. So, of course, Grog, being the arrogant bastard that he was, kept at it until he got that damn horse trained.

SFTS said...

You just had to mention how close Christmas is, didn't you.......


GoLightly said...

No, No, NO.
Women rode first.
It's just...
Plus, I read the book by Jean whatever. Clan of the Cave Bear.
DOG, I hate this new keyboard..
I can't see a darned thing..

Beauty is in the eye..
Sorry, I've been awake since 4:45am. If I make any sense, I'm happy;)

kestrel said...

I rather like my old instructor's point of view, she said that a group of guys were fighting and someone climbed up on a horse so they could bonk someone lower, then they started to breed taller horses so ...

It is possible to saddle break an elk though. Not easy, but can be done! There's a bar in Condon Mt. that has pictures of an elk with a lady riding it sidesaddle. Now that would be one tough woman!

cattypex said...

I too loved the theory in Valley of the Horses. Pretty steamy book with verY speculation.....

I minored in history, focusing on medieval and early modern Europe. This is a great topic!

The cave painting you feature has always made me think that some romantic and charismatic individual first rode horses. They were appreciated aesthetically even then, and some speed demon probably wanted to be a rock star.

Or maybe it was purely a spiritual thing.

JohnieRotten said...


I major in Biochemistry and Anthropology which was a cool major. I always thought if I wasn't a horse trainer, you would find me on a paleo-
Indian dig somewhere.

The cave art is so cool though and this is one of my favorites.

I always wondered who drew it.

JohnieRotten said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JohnieRotten said...


I said the C word. Christmas!

Anonymous said...


I like this topic!

Shows a quality of creativity.

I have to agree with onmyway though, some dumb cavern was trying to impress his gal. But instead he took a few lumps and she got a good laugh. But I am sure she was flattered. At the ripe old age of 71 my husband still tries to impress me. I love it!

cattypex said...

I'm always trying to figure out things like who invented knitting, and how, and who invented bread, and how, etc. etc. etc. One of my favorite little books is "The Evolution of Useful Things."

I also can totally see the first equestrian efforts as drunken stunts... and then the usefulness quickly becoming evident.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Not a very creative thought process, but; meat to milk to pack to...Gee, if this thing can carry a pack saddle, why can't it carry me?

The Indians, for lack of metal working skills started out using a 'chin' rope. A highly trained war/hunting pony was trained to go almost entirely by leg pressure though.

PrairieFarmer said...

Oohhh...Clan of the Cave Bears! What was the name of the hottie in that? Jondalar? So sexy and manly yet respectful of woman. I'm sure there were so many cavemen like that! LOL!
I had typed up a big meandering comment and then realized Kestrel has said it best in like one sentence.
"Horses as tools are usually better treated because they have a purpose."
Exactly. Understanding there are always the exceptions to the rule, of course.
I like Kestrel's comparison with kid's as well. THAT is a great point to ponder. Kids as an asset vs. a liability! (yes, as you can probably tell I've been stuck in the house on a rainy Sunday with my two hellions all day long...).

kestrel said...

I actually heard that one from my boys. They helped move hay, care for stock, feed chickens etc. from a young age. My youngest son's fondest memory is being allowed to steer the pickup across the field (in granny gear) as we threw the bales on. My oldest called and thanked me for keeping him fit as a youngster from boot camp. He said "I'm not finding this easy, but do I ever pity those poor city kids!" We went to horse shows, trail riding, fairs and parades. We'd taken another kid along one time, and he started whining that he was hungry. My boys looked at him with utter contempt and said "around here we eat AFTER the animals are fed." Did they whine about being used as child labor?! Oh yeah. But they knew that I needed their help and we were working as a team. All their friends came over to our house, and many volunteered to help and loved the appreciation they got for doing so. They're happy successful adults now, and they plan on raising their kids the same way they were raised. I think that's the most extreme compliment a parent can hear.

phaedra96 said...

Okay. My two cents...women or children rode first. Betcha some child climbed on his pet pony(found foal and kept it for a pet) and his buddies found out he had the world at his bidding. Of course, then the men had to take over cause they couldn't let some little kid show them up! Read all the Jean Auel books, DD has them squirreled away somewhere. My favorite was.....drum roll, please...Valley of the Horses. Wonder why? Christmas. Do not go there. Ever. Cannot stand the commercialism. I mean, X-mas crap out in the stores--Now! The season used to start the day after Thanksgiving. Now, it starts right after Labor Day. Wooo-hoo. Let's go for year round!!

Kaede said...

Have you all read "Guns, Germs and Steel"? It talks a little about why which animals were domesticated. For one, they were able to be domesticated by the tools (physical and mental) to be had at the time.

I also read somewhere that horses aren't fully domesticated, neither are cats or camels. The way to tell truly domesticated animals from semi domesticated ones were how easily did the animal go feral?

You just don't see feral Jersey cows wandering around. Most dogs would be toast in a generation too. There aren't packs of dogs roaming and procreating in cities they way there are colonies of cats.

kestrel said...

Feral Jerseys, snork...the it's stuck in my head Kaede, for life...

cattypex said...

Wait, aren't there guerilla Holsteins wandering the nation painting EAT MOR CHIKIN all over the place?


Dogs revert pretty quickly.

Michael Pollan points out that corn would be extinct pretty quickly without people, too.

I've been meaning to read Guns Germs & Steel. Amazing to me how little things like the stirrup can change history.

Kaede said...

Some dogs can go wild, but but I just can't see packs of feral tea cup poodles terrorizing the local Sheetz. I think most giant breeds (like my beloved Saints) would be coyote fodder too.

Maybe we'd all be taken over by weimaraners.

fernvalley01 said...

Kaede.I doubt teacups would but apparently poodles in general can go feral awfully quick ,who knew?

Kaede said...

My bet would be any medium sized dog with a longish (wolf like) snout.
Packs 'o pekes, probably not. Packs 'o Plotts, maybe.

JohnieRotten said...

The fact that your are talking about feral tea-cups cracks me up. In 1994 my ex left me with a bunch of huge bills including her student loans. So I took a second job doing line leak survey for the gas company. We had to walk neighborhoods with these packs that detected gas leaks. These packs has a golf club like rod that had a cone on the end of it. We also had to go into peoples backyards and check the gas meters.

I had to check a house with a wrought iron gate that had a space of about 6 inches between bars. I shook the gate and yelled 'gas company' which was how we made sure there were no dogs vicious dogs in the back.

As soon as I did that a little Chihuahua puppy came up to the gate. He was a cute little bugger.

Reached up opened the gate to go in and all of a sudden a dozen not so cute Chihuahuas came running towards the gate growling and barking likerhey wanted kill me. Thinking I was a clever kind of guy. I shut the gate.

Those little bastards ran right through the bars of the gate and chased me down the street. All I had for defense was a squirt bottle full of soapy water for meter leak detection and the rod that was attached to the pack. The squirt bottle had no effect and they chewed the come off of the end of the rubber cone off of the rod.

To ad insult theybit a hole bit a whole inthe toe of my shoe.

So there I was running down the street with a pack of angry chasing me. Comical yes. Embarrassing.......definitely

fernvalley01 said...

howling here! Oh my that created a mental picture I may never recover from! Thanks JR

Kaede said...

One would think that hawks would pick off feral small dogs, sort of like barred owls do squirrels in the city.

OT JR, aren't your little girls about to turn two? This conversation got me to thinking about kind vs. vicious dogs.
My lovely Saints, who can be played with safely by MR toddlers, have taken a dislike to teen boys. Especially the teen boys my one remaining teen girl brings home.

There is something intimidating about a 36 inch, 200+ pounds of dog snarling at you. Every time you put your arm around your girl, the dog leaps up, growls and snaps at you.

JohnieRotten said...


The girls turn two on the 24th of this month and my father turns 80 on the same day. There is a party in Tucson that day that is being catered and everything. Big ol blowout.

Kaede said...

Congratulations! That's wonderful!

JohnieRotten said...

Thanks Kaede.

FV. I am sure it was quite a sight

fernvalley01 said...

68 days now, just sayin'
Sounds like a wonderful big party for the girls and your Dad!

Kaede said...

I'm sorry I missed it but