Domestication of the horse

A 'bred back' Heck Horse, said to resemble the now-extinct Tarpan
Replica of a horse painting from a cave in Lascaux
Equus caballus germanicus front leg, teeth and upper jaw at the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin
The early stages of domestication were marked by a rapid increase in coat color variation.
Chariots of Ramesses II and the Hittites in the Battle of Kadesh, 1274 BCE
A Luristan bronze horse bit
Depiction of a mounted warrior from the Pazyryk burials, c. 300 BCE

A number of hypotheses exist on many of the key issues regarding the domestication of the horse.

- Domestication of the horse
A 'bred back' Heck Horse, said to resemble the now-extinct Tarpan

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A draft horse is generally a large, heavy horse suitable for farm labor

Draft horse

Large horse bred to be a working animal doing hard tasks such as plowing and other farm labor.

Large horse bred to be a working animal doing hard tasks such as plowing and other farm labor.

A draft horse is generally a large, heavy horse suitable for farm labor
Two horses hitched to a plow
Size comparison of a draft horse of Percheron breeding with a stock horse type light riding horse
Extracting logs with a Clydesdale at Eglinton Country Park in Scotland.
These Shire horses are used to pull a brewery dray delivering beer to pubs in England. In this picture, members of the public are being given a ride.
Harness and carriage horses, such as the Dutch harness horse, are powerful, but of a lighter build and livelier disposition than draft horses

Humans domesticated horses and used them to perform a variety of duties.

Reconstructed Roman chariot drawn by horses.

Chariot

Type of cart driven by a charioteer, usually using horses to provide rapid motive power.

Type of cart driven by a charioteer, usually using horses to provide rapid motive power.

Reconstructed Roman chariot drawn by horses.
Approximate historical map of the spread of the spoke-wheeled chariot, 2000–500 BCE
Han dynasty bronze models of cavalry and chariots
The area of the spoke-wheeled chariot finds within the Sintashta-Petrovka Proto-Indo-Iranian culture is indicated in purple.
Hittite chariot (drawing of an Egyptian relief)
Krishna Arjun Rath Monument at Brahma Sarovar. Bronze statue, by Ram V. and Anal R. Sutar, 2008.
Chariot detail at Airavatesvara Temple built by Rajaraja Chola II of the Chola Empire in the 12th century CE.
Stone chariot at Hampi, built under the Vijayanagara Empire, early 16th century CE.
A golden chariot made during Achaemenid Empire (550–330 BCE).
Relief of early war wagons on the Standard of Ur, c. 2500 BCE
Ramses II fighting from a chariot at the Battle of Kadesh with two archers, one with the reins tied around the waist to free both hands (relief from Abu Simbel)
The Charioteer of Delphi was dedicated to the god Apollo in 474 BCE by the tyrant of Gela in commemoration of a Pythian racing victory at Delphi.
Chariot, armed warrior and his driver Greece 4th century BCE
Two female charioteers from Tiryns 1200 BCE
A petroglyph in a double burial, c. 1000 BCE (the Nordic Bronze Age)
Detail of the Monteleone Chariot at the Met (c. 530 BCE)
A winner of a Roman chariot race
Fresco depicting an Italic chariot from the Lucanian tomb, 4th century BCE.
A mosaic of the Kasta Tomb in Amphipolis depicting the abduction of Persephone by Pluto, 4th century BCE.
The goddess Nike riding on a two-horse chariot, from an Apulian patera (tray), Magna Graecia, 4th century BCE.
Procession of chariots on a Late Geometric amphora from Athens (c. 720–700 BCE).
Sculpture by Thomas Thornycroft of Boudica and her daughters in her chariot, addressing her troops before the battle.
Procession of chariots and warriors on the Vix krater (c. 510), a vessel of Archaic Greek workmanship found in a Gallic burial.
Modern reconstruction of a Hussite war wagon.
Chariot burial of Zheng
Bronze Chinese charioteer from the Warring States period (403–221 BCE).
Powerful landlord in chariot (Eastern Han, 25–220 CE, Anping County, Hebei).

A necessary precursor to the invention of the chariot is the domestication of animals, specifically horses – a major step in the development of civilization.

Pontic–Caspian steppe

Steppeland stretching from the northern shores of the Black Sea to the northern area around the Caspian Sea.

Steppeland stretching from the northern shores of the Black Sea to the northern area around the Caspian Sea.

Streltsovskaya Steppe, a preserved area in Milove Raion in Luhansk Oblast, Ukraine. The steppe is often dominated by plumes of Stipa in early summer.
Tulipa suaveolens, one of the most typical spring flowers of the Pontic-Caspian steppe
The Pontic-Caspian steppe in c. 650
Zaporozhian Cossacks fighting Tatars from the Crimean Khanate – late 19th-century painting

Genetic research has identified this region as the most probable place where horses were first domesticated.

Przewalski's horse

Rare and endangered horse originally native to the steppes of Central Asia.

Rare and endangered horse originally native to the steppes of Central Asia.

Head shot, showing convex profile
Winter coat
Przewalski's horses
Przewalski's horse skull, Brno museum.
Vaska, a Przewalski's horse trained to be ridden.
A Przewalski's horse in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
Przewalski's horses at Döberitzer Heide nature reserve
Przewalski's horses.

Their ancestral lineages split from a common ancestor between 38,000 and 160,000 years ago, long before the domestication of the horse.

Horse

Domesticated, odd-toed, hoofed mammal.

Domesticated, odd-toed, hoofed mammal.

Points of a horse
Size varies greatly among horse breeds, as with this full-sized horse and small pony.
Bay (left) and chestnut (sometimes called "sorrel") are two of the most common coat colors, seen in almost all breeds.
Mare with a foal
The skeletal system of a modern horse
Horse anatomy about a century after the golden age of Islam. 15th century (AD). This image is an Egyptian document kept in the library of Istanbul University.
A horse's eye
Illustration of assorted breeds; slim, light hotbloods, medium-sized warmbloods and draft and pony-type coldblood breeds
When horses lie down to sleep, others in the herd remain standing, awake or in a light doze, keeping watch.
Diagram of evolution in horses showing size development, biometrical changes in the cranium and reduction of toes (left forefoot)
A small herd of Przewalski's Horses
Bhimbetka rock painting showing a man riding on a horse, India
Finnhorse pulling a heavy wagon.
A horse and rider in dressage competition at the Olympics
Ottoman cavalry, 1917
The horse-headed deity in Hinduism, Hayagriva
Fresco painting a horse related to the art of Urartu civilization in a museum in Yerevan, Armenia
Checking teeth and other physical examinations are an important part of horse care.
Walk {{convert|5|–|8|km/h|mph|abbr=on}}
Trot {{convert|8|–|13|km/h|mph|abbr=on}}
Pace {{convert|8|–|13|km/h|mph|abbr=on}}
Canter {{convert|16|–|27|km/h|mph|abbr=on}}
Gallop {{convert|40|–|48|km/h|mph|abbr=on}}, record: {{convert|70.76|km/h|abbr=on|sortable=on}}

Humans began domesticating horses around 4000 BC, and their domestication is believed to have been widespread by 3000 BC. Horses in the subspecies caballus are domesticated, although some domesticated populations live in the wild as feral horses.

Kazakhstan

Transcontinental landlocked country located mainly in Central Asia and partly in Eastern Europe.

Transcontinental landlocked country located mainly in Central Asia and partly in Eastern Europe.

Approximate extent of Scythia within the area of distribution of Eastern Iranian languages (shown in orange) in the 1st century BC
Cuman–Kipchak confederation in Eurasia circa 1200. The Kazakhs are descendants of Kipchaks, Nogais and other Turkic and medieval Mongol tribes
Ural Cossacks skirmish with Kazakhs (the Russians originally called the Kazakhs "Kirgiz")
Map of the Kazakh Territory in 1903
Stanitsa Sofiiskaya, Talgar. 1920s
Young Pioneers at a Young Pioneer camp in Kazakh SSR
The International Conference on Primary Health Care in 1978, known as the Alma-Ata Declaration
The Monument of Independence, Republic Square, Almaty
Satellite image of Kazakhstan (November 2004)
The Kazakh Steppe is part of the Eurasian Steppe Belt (in on the map)
Karaganda Region
Kazakhstan map of Köppen climate classification
Corsac fox
Ak Orda Presidential Palace
Parliament of Kazakhstan
Nur Otan Headquarters in Nur-Sultan
President Nazarbayev with U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2012
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev with 
Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2019
Member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)
Kazakhstan Republican Guard
A Kazakhstan Sukhoi Su-27
Downtown Nur-Sultan
GDP per capita development, since 1973
A proportional representation of Kazakhstan exports, 2019
Aktau is Kazakhstan's only seaport on the Caspian Sea
A map of Kazakhstan's imports, 2013
Kazakhstan has the largest proven oil reserves in the Caspian Sea region.
Grain fields near Kokshetau
Map of Kazakhstan railway network
Train 22 Kyzylorda – Semipalatinsk, hauled by a Kazakhstan Temir Zholy 2TE10U diesel locomotive. Picture taken near Aynabulak, Kazakhstan
Borovoe, view from Mount Bolectau
A ski resort in Almaty
Astana Expo 2017 "Nur Alem" Pavilion
Almaty
Trends in research expenditure in Central Asia, as a percentage of GDP, 2001–2013. Source: UNESCO Science Report: 2030 (2015), Figure 14.3
Group of Kazakhstan physicists in collaboration with Uzbek researchers working at the ion accelerator DC-60
Baikonur Cosmodrome is the world's oldest and largest operational spaceport
Population pyramid, 2020
Central Asian ethnolinguistic patchwork, 1992
Kazakhstanis on a Lake Jasybay beach, Pavlodar Region
Ascension Cathedral in Almaty
Khazret Sultan Mosque is the biggest mosque in Kazakhstan
Kazakh National University of Arts
A Kazakhstan performer demonstrates the long equestrian heritage as part of the gala concert during the opening ceremonies of the Central Asian Peacekeeping Battalion
Kanysh Satpayev, one of the founders of Soviet era metallogeny, principal advocate and the first president of Kazakhstan Academy of Sciences
1965 Soviet stamp honouring Kazakh essayist and poet Abai Qunanbaiuly
Nowruz on stamp of Kazakhstan
A-Studio was created in 1982 in Almaty, then called Alma-Ata, hence called "Alma-Ata Studio"
Astana Arena opened in 2009
Nikolai Antropov
International Astana Action Film Festival, 2010
Timur Bekmambetov, a notable Kazakh director

Archaeologists believe that humans first domesticated the horse (i.e., ponies) in the region's vast steppes.

A horse equipped with a saddle for mounted police.

Horse tack

A horse equipped with a saddle for mounted police.
A nylon halter/headcollar
An English bridle with cavesson noseband
A bosal hackamore
A pelham bit with a jointed mouthpiece
a curb and snaffle bit shown together on a double bridle
An English-style breastplate with elastic and a running martingale attachment
Horse wearing a breastplate
a horse wearing a running martingale

Tack is equipment or accessories equipped on horses and other equines in the course of their use as domesticated animals.

Dogs and sheep were among the first animals to be domesticated.

Domestication

Sustained multi-generational relationship in which humans assume a significant degree of control over the reproduction and care of another group of organisms to secure a more predictable supply of resources from that group.

Sustained multi-generational relationship in which humans assume a significant degree of control over the reproduction and care of another group of organisms to secure a more predictable supply of resources from that group.

Dogs and sheep were among the first animals to be domesticated.
Succulents like this jelly bean plant (Sedum rubrotinctum) need infrequent watering, making them convenient as houseplants.
Evolution of temperatures in the postglacial period, after the Last Glacial Maximum, showing very low temperatures for the most part of the Younger Dryas, rapidly rising afterwards to reach the level of the warm Holocene, based on Greenland ice cores.
Karakul sheep and shepherds in Iran. Photograph by Harold F. Weston, 1920s
The red junglefowl of Southeast Asia was domesticated, apparently for cockfighting, some 7,000 years ago.
Sericulturalists preparing silkworms for spinning of the silk
Farmers with wheat and cattle – Ancient Egyptian art 3,400 years ago
A conceptual figure on the impact of domestication on the plant endophytic microbiome. (a) A phylogenetic distance among Malus species which contains wild species (black branches) and progenitor wild species (blue branches). The extended green branch represents Malus domestica with its close affiliation its main ancestor (M. sieversii). Dashed lines indicate introgression events between Malus progenitors which contributed to the formation of M. domestica. (b) The predicted three scenarios: Scenario 1, reduction in species diversity due to loss in microbial species; Scenario 2, increase in microbial diversity due to introgressive hybridization during the apple domestication; Scenario 3, diversity was not affected by domestication.
Button mushrooms are widely cultivated for food.
Industrialized wheat harvest – North America today

The archaeological and genetic data suggest that long-term bidirectional gene flow between wild and domestic stocks – including donkeys, horses, New and Old World camelids, goats, sheep, and pigs – was common.

Scotland Forever! [crop] depicting the cavalry charge of the Royal Scots Greys at the Battle of Waterloo.

Horses in warfare

The first evidence of horses in warfare dates from Eurasia between 4000 and 3000 BC. A Sumerian illustration of warfare from 2500 BC depicts some type of equine pulling wagons.

The first evidence of horses in warfare dates from Eurasia between 4000 and 3000 BC. A Sumerian illustration of warfare from 2500 BC depicts some type of equine pulling wagons.

Scotland Forever! [crop] depicting the cavalry charge of the Royal Scots Greys at the Battle of Waterloo.
A soldier in World War I with his mule.
Chariots and archers were weapons of war in Ancient Egypt.
Haniwa horse statuette, complete with saddle and stirrups, 6th century, Kofun period
The "War Panel" of the Standard of Ur
A Qin dynasty sculpture of a chariot with horses and rider from the Terracotta Army unearthed near the tomb of China's first emperor Qin Shihuangdi, Xi'an, China, 3rd century BC
Depiction of a Sasanian Persian Cataphract from Taq-e Bostan
Life-size model depicting c. 1850 horse artillery team with a light artillery piece
A horserider of probable Xiongnu origin: the rider wears a hairbun characteristic of the oriental steppes, and his horse has characteristically Xiongnu horse trappings. 2nd–1st century BC. Excavated in Saksanokhur (near Farkhor), Tajikistan. National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan.
Manuscript illustration of the Mahabharata War, depicting warriors fighting on horse chariots
Yabusame archers, Edo period
Spanish and Moorish light cavalry (jinetes) skirmish at the 1431 Battle of La Higueruela
A re-imagination of Louis III and Carloman's 879 victory over the Vikings; Jean Fouquet, Grandes Chroniques de France
Jousting is a sport that evolved out of heavy cavalry practice.
Chasseurs of the Guard (light cavalry) to the left and cuirassier (Heavy cavalry) to the right, at the battle of Friedland.
"Napoleon I with his Generals" by Ludwig Elsholtz. This painting shows light cavalry horses which come into use as officer's mounts in 18th- and 19th-century Europe.
Kanem-Bu warriors armed with spears. The Earth and Its Inhabitants, 1892.
Native Americans quickly adopted the horse and were highly effective light cavalry. Comanche-Osage fight. George Catlin, 1834
Confederate general Robert E. Lee and Traveller. Cavalry played a significant role in the American Civil War.
Australian Imperial Force light horsemen, 1914
Polish Cavalry during a Polish Army manoeuvre in late 1930s.
A memorial to the horses that served in the Second Boer War.
U.S. Special Operations Forces, members of Task Force Dagger, and Afghanistan Commander Abdul Rashid Dostum on horseback in the Dari-a-Souf Valley, Afghanistan, in October 2001.
US Air Force Special Operations Command Combat Controller Bart Decker rides a horse in Afghanistan in the early stages of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Mounted police in Poznań, Poland
Horse Cavalry Detachment of the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division demonstrating a mock cavalry charge at Fort Bliss, Texas

The earliest tools used to control horses were bridles of various sorts, which were invented nearly as soon as the horse was domesticated.

Ancient settlement at Botai, discovered in 1980.

Botai culture

Archaeological culture (c.

Archaeological culture (c.

Ancient settlement at Botai, discovered in 1980.
Illustration of a Botai house structure.
Genetic position of the Botai samples among other ancient and modern Eurasian samples.

Some researchers state that horses were domesticated locally by the Botai.