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How to Hunt a Horse

August 17th, 2010 · Book I: Prey (20,000 BC) historical background, Horses in History, Horses in Prehistory, The Horse

Mostly, you don’t.  Horses are prey in the wild, but few predators dare confrontation with a healthy equine. You could call horses “extreme” prey.

stubbs, horse frightened by lion, 1770

The opening historical scene of Eclipsed by Shadow is set in prehistoric times, highlighting the earliest relationship between man and horse: hunter and hunted.

It was not our most enjoyable association, casting humans in the shabby role of trickster … and leaving the horses not too happy either.

The horse has few natural predators

Lions and wolf packs are the only major predators with horse on the menu, and they mostly avoid contact. As a horse’s kick can crush an adult lion’s skull — something we could call a ‘game-changer’ — the horse’s enemies remain on the lookout for immature, elderly or sick equines.

If hooves are the danger in horse-hunting, getting close to the animal is the difficulty. A horse may not have the sprinting take-off of a gazelle, but with a short headstart no predator on earth can catch him.

The horse’s anatomy is a balance between power and swiftness: his heavy body is balanced on thin, well-leveraged limbs that take a few strides to reach full speed but allow him to gallop for miles. The horse simply outclasses all predators at any real distance.

So sneaking around is the rule for horse-hunters … and it ain’t easy. As anyone who has spent time with horses knows, our silent partner is quite alert to potential lions in the flower-pots. The horse instinctively knows his survival depends upon a good headstart.
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Copyright © 2010  John Allen Royce, Jr.

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