The Horse

Since the dawn of history, horses have been our companions. From the earliest cave art to the choreographed prancing of the Lippizzan they have entranced us. The Horse seeks to explain our love for these animals. To do so author Wendy Williams dives deep into the past. She explores where horses came from and how they evolved alongside us. She tells of how they came to be, and the evolutionary quirks that made them survive and thrive. Of their long history with us and of the present day, where they still hold us fascinated. Part history, part evolutionary biology, part personal tale of her life with horses. This book is as magnificent as the creatures it covers.

The writing is beautiful. Williams skill with words allows her to convey complicated ideas in a simple fashion. The use of language is evocative yet informative.

“We are, like horses, children of the savanna, offspring of the wind and the sun and the pelting rain. This is more than just a romantic idea. In the last few decades, science has corroborated the romance with a growing body of research. This science is helping inform us about how to treat a horse well in the modern world, about the hidden emotional lives of horses, about whether they’d be happier living “free” out on the open plain or whether they prefer the safe haven of a barn and regular mealtimes, and even about their social and cognitive requirements.”

There are many great words that I looked up as I went. Withers are the point between the shoulders of the horse. And pasterns are the sloping part of the foot between the hoof and fetlock. Aurignacian is the name of the earliest known human culture in Europe. They lived sometime in the Upper Paleolithic, around 30,000 years ago, and they drew pictures of horses.

The Horse and some friends

And it’s not all dry history, Williams travels the world and watches horses across the planet. Their lives are like a soap opera. Stallions and mares can have long, complex relationships with the females taking an active role. The idea of stallions dominating herds is more myth than reality.

There’s a whole chapter on their vision. What colours they can see and how that affects what they can see. With our two different visual spectrums we become a kind of symbiotic organism. Humans see colours much better while horses pick up the smallest movement.

Ans the world is still full of horses. There may be a million free ranging horses in the Australian Outback alone. They survive in a wide array of environments, from 3,000 meters above sea level to deserts to remote islands.

The Horse and two friends in the mist

The Horse is an enchanting book that took me by surprise. The skill of the writing captivated me and drew me deep into the history of these handsome creatures. If you already have an interest in horses then it is a must. But it is so well-written and the subject so compelling that I recommend this book to everyone.

Click the link to find the Horse on Amazon. Let me know what you think in the comments.

 

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