Horses in America
- The United States has, by far, the most horses in the world — approximately 9.5 million, according to the 2006 Global Horse Population report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. It shows 58,372,106 horses in the world.
- Between 1867-1869, horse population increased by 37%, and mule population by 32%
- Between 1900-1910, national horse population increased by 70%, from 13 million to 23 million
- The American horse population peaked between 1919-1920, due to intensive breeding programs to supply horses for World War I
- In 1914 the horse population was about 25 million. More than half the horses in the world lived in Russia and the U.S.
- U.S. sent well over 1 million horses and mules to Europe for World War l
- Between 1920-1940, adoption of the tractor caused many farmers to sell their horses to pet food canneries
- 1945 marks the year that tractor power overtook horse power on American farms. This was a drastic change from just 25 years earlier when there were approximately 25 million horses and mules and only a handful of tractors that were used on large farms. A major factor in the change from the horse to the tractor was World War II, when farmers became more financially prosperous and equipment manufacturers were encouraged to increase tractor production as part of their patriotic duty to help support the rapid industrializing nation.
Which states have the most?
- Among U. S. states, the AHC report puts Texas in the lead with 978,822 horses, followed by California with 698,345, Florida with 500,124, Oklahoma with 326,134, Kentucky with 320,173, Ohio with 306,898 and Missouri with 281,255.
- Rhode Island had the fewest horses, with 3,059, followed by the District of Columbia, reporting a fluctuating total of about 33.
Where are the rest of the horses?
- Nine other countries have horse populations of more than a million. They are: China (7,402,450), Mexico (6,260,000), Brazil (5,787,249), Argentina (3,655,000), Colombia (2,533,621), Mongolia (2,029,100), Ethiopia (1,655,383) Russian Federation (1,319,358) and Kazakhstsan (1,163,500). Guam (20) and Grenada (30) had the lowest totals.
- Two countries, Rwanda and St. Helena, reported no horses.
- A separate independent study by the American Horse Council (AHC) in 2005 (based on 2004 statistics) showed a U.S. horse population of 9,223,000, which would indicate that U.S. equine numbers rose by nearly 300,000 in just over a year.
How do horses affect the economy?
- The AHC says the horse industry has a direct impact of $39 billion on the U. S. economy and an overall impact of $102 billion when factoring in indirect and induced spending.
- Recreational horse use is the largest segment of the horse industry, with 3.9 million horses.
- The industry supports 1.4 million full-time jobs, AHC says.
Other interesting tidbits:
Horses were domesticated in about 4,000 BC (first in the Ukraine).
The first use of the horse was for food, hide and blood. Prior to domestication, they and other animals were herded into pits where the fall would either kill the animal or break its limbs so that it might easily be slaughtered. Horse was first ridden to herd horses and other animals for their value in supplying man with food, hide and blood. The Secondary Product Revolution came about after man realized that the horse had more value alive and used for its strength and speed.
The breast collar, and ridged horse collar were invented in China approximately one thousand years before coming to Europe. The ridged collar system of harness allowed the horse to be many more times efficient pulling heavy loads. It revolutionized agriculture. The horse could do the work of 50 men, work all day, and work 50% faster than oxen.
Because Ireland was an island and isolation from England and Europe, the invention of the horse harness was very late to arrive. Before the use of the typical harness, the Irish would put horse in draft by tying a load to the horse’s tail.
Horses were put to war chariots from about 2000 BC. Nomadic people tended to ride horses before they drove them, and sedentary people tended to drive horses before they rode them.
In 1469 BC, history records that at the Battle of Megiddo in what is now Northern Palestine, Thusmosos traveled 10-15 miles a day to win this battle and capture 2041 horses.
The nomadic herdsmen of the Steppe were some of the first peoples to develop war tactics. They used much the same principles used in herding animals in the vast grasslands of the Steppe.
In about 1000 BC the warriors began to choose to ride on the horse’s back. Thus a mounted cavalry was born.
In 1360 BC the first horse training manual was produced by the Hittites. The Greek, Xenophon, was the most famous writer to record methods of training and riding of the horse.
The horse increased the speed at which the hunter or warrior could pursue it target. The composite bow (a short cupid type bow) used from either the platform of a chariot or the back of a horse allowed the hunter and warrior to drive or ride into a group of animals or men, kill, and retreat with much greater efficiency then on foot. The horse changed the way hunting and war was conducted.
Economic Revolution – The biggest development in the Middle Ages was the invention of the rigid horse collar which found its way to Europe around 700 BC. This was to the tenth century, what the invention of the automobile was to the twentieth. The rigid horse collar revolutionized agriculture allowing one horse and man to do the work of 50 persons, thus freeing men to pursue the arts, science, and humanities.
The use of iron and invention of gunpowder changed the conformation of the horse. The small cantering horse of the Bronze Age were supplanted with the classic Baroque horse of the Iron Age and then crossed again with cantering, long-strided horses to produce the horse of the Gun Powder Age.
British History – It was not until Edward VII that the British monarchy finally obtained a gilded gala carriage.
George III’s coronation – It seems there was uniquely trained horse that was taught to walk backwards. The idea was that after the horse had been shown to the king, it would gracefully back away so the king wouldn’t have to stare at its ass. On the occasion of George III coronation, the horse got a little mixed up and began walking backwards the moment it entered the hall and it kept walking backwards until it finally reached the king’s table, ass first.
World War II – During World War II about half the German Army still moved about on horses. The German Army used 2.7 million horses during the war. The Poles used about 200,000 horses. The US army only had about 50,000 horses in 1941. After the First and Second World Wars thousands of horses were slaughtered so that armies would not suffer the expense and chance of disease of returning horses to their native land. Armies also did not want to risk putting horses into the hands of the recently defeated enemy.
In New York City in 1890 a horse drawn cab traveled at 6 miles per hour. In New York City in 1990 an automobile cab traveled at 6 miles per hour.
The origin of the word cab comes from the Italian word for goat “cabrio”. The goat leaps or bounds about the ground. The characteristics of one first horse drawn commercial carriages was thought to leap and bound over the ground like the goat it was called a Cabriolet. The high school dressage movement where the horse leaps into the air is called a capriole after the movement of the goat.
Hats, gloves, whip and apron. Hats were a necessity in the Carriage Era. Most carriages were open, relatively slow moving vehicles so the hats were worn for protection from the elements and were of no danger of being blown away. Gloves were worn to assist the driver in grasping the reins ands to protect the hands from the dye on the harness. The whip was always carried as one of the three aids (reins, whip and voice) the driver used to communicate with the horse. The whip was not an instrument of torture. It was to tap the horse just as a rider’s legs queue the horse to move its hindquarters sideways, forward, etc. Apron or lap robes were worn to protect one’s fine clothing from the dust and dirt of the horses and the road.
The fashion of wearing hats started to disappear with the advent of enclosed automobiles. President Kennedy was the first president to appear at his inauguration without a hat. Black women and the British Queen have kept the tradition of wearing hats alive.
In Austria in the last 1800s aristocrats were dancing at 2000 balls. Even today there are 300 balls annually.
Driving from the right side of the carriage and the left side of the automobile, all have to do with the fact that in the very distant past, as is true now, most people are right handed. Charioteer generally drove from the right side placing the reins in their left hand so their weapon could be use in their right more dominate hand to defend their right side. The archer would stand at the charioteer’s left side.
Early automobile were driven from the right side, taking the custom from carriage driving. In 1908 Henry Ford moved the steering wheel to the left side of the automobile. This placed controls in the center of the car for the convenience of right handed people and ease of entering the car from the right by passengers. In 1915, Cadillac was the last American manufacturer to move the steering wheel from the right to the left.
One of the earliest uses of horses was in battle. Since most persons were right handed they would want their weapon in their right hand and the reins of the horse in their left hand – just as the cowboy would want his rope in his right hand and the polo player would want his mallet in his right hand. (Polo was a game developed to keep the warrior and his horse fit for battle when not at was. The horse could stay in fit condition and the warrior could keep his fighting right arm ready for the sward or lance.)
We mount the horse from its left side for the same reason. The saber’s sheath was worn on the left hip so that it could easily be pulled by the right hand. The placement of this sheath necessitated the soldier mount the horse from its left side to avoid the leg when thrown over the horse back from getting caught on the sheath. We ride the near side post horse for the same reason; it frees the right hand to use the whip on the off horse. The near and off horse are called this because of the necessity of the ride to mount the left horse in a postilion hitch.