Even devout horse-lovers may not appreciate how much horsemanship has transformed in the past century. After thousands of years, our relationship to horses and new-found concern for their welfare is a revolution from practices of only a few decades past.
The 20th Century saw broad fundamental change to society … as it always has, horsemanship holds a mirror to cultural upheaval and growth.
The Horsemanship Century … a complete transformation
Over the past century, the world has undergone a massive change from using the horse in war, transportation and farm work … to sports, recreation and therapy.
A hundred years ago in 1912, early “High Wheeler” automobiles were being replaced by the Ford’s Model T, or the “Tin Lizzie.” In 1912 tractors were being introduced to American farms; and, though the horse and mule population continued to increase for another 6 years to reach some 26.4 million animals in 1918 … 30 years later horses had almost vanished from the farm.
This steep, rapid decline brought the idea that horses are ‘obsolete’ … the horse-and-buggy has become a metaphor of old-fashioned ways ‘dying out.’ Yet an amazing thing happened that changed the picture of the horsemanship’s anticipated decline: recreation and sport. In the 1800’s jumping was discovered to be an exciting and humane challenge: modern equestrian sports ignited ancient passions for riding and created a new world of horsemanship experience. Even now frontiers in healing horsemanship are opening, providing therapy and rehabilitation for a range of human disabilities.
There are an estimated 9,500,000 horses in the US today, but the horse population is no longer farm animals and cavalry: the demographic has been completely transformed. Our increased focus on equine welfare–almost unseen in earlier human society–is a hallmark of our new ways of horsemanship. The horse helped build civilization, and, amazingly, our modern partnership has risen to new levels with potential to continue into an even brighter future.
Early American Automobile Industry 1894-1929) Pics of 1912 “High Wheeler” and other contemporary autos … vintage shots of vehicles from 1894 to 1929.
History of Horse-Powered Farming in America A look back at the history of farm horses from Colonial times to the modern horse-farming movement today.