Horses weren’t introduced to North America, they originated in North America. I just know that the Dawn Horse, the first form of a horse – Equus callabus, that appeared in North America about 60 million years ago.
However, horses disappeared entirely from North and South America about 10,000 years ago perhaps due to famine, disease, or because they were a source of food for man. The horse was brought back to America in the 16th century by Spanish explorers.
Horses may have been domesticated as far back as 7000 years ago. It’s anyone’s guess when the first horse was ridden but their history is well documented in very early times because they pulled the chariots and were ridden into battle. Horses have played an important role in the world’s development and were considered the most reliable transportation before the advent of the automobile.
The first bridles, early horse equipment, were made of leather and they were important because the horse’s head needed to be controlled. Early horsemen recognized that the horse’s mouth was a pressure point and if combined with a “bit” one could even control the horse. Today’s bridal, bit and reins are very similar to the first ones used in early times and not much has changed.
Bareback was the first method of riding and over time stirrups were developed to assist in mounting and for the rider to keep his balance. Leather pads secured to the horse by a cinch were the forerunner of the modern saddle that continued to evolve over time for comfort and durability.
Breastplates were added to horse tack to keep the saddle from slipping back. In addition, back cinches were used to hold the saddle down which is necessary for ranchers to rope cattle. Saddle pads were added to protect the horses’ back from the hard leather saddle to round out the horse equipment.
Today’s saddles vary with the activity. There are English saddles, synthetic saddles, Western pleasure trail saddles, all around western saddles, double gait western saddles, Exmor Close contact English saddles, saddles for young riders, event saddles, dressage saddles, and jumping saddles, just to name a few. Their prices can range from $50 to thousands of dollars.
Horse equipment is an industry in itself. On line is a great way to shop. Just some of the horse gear to purchase are: chaps, helmets, show clothes, horse blankets, fly masks, horse covers, leg protectors, riders gloves, halters, leads, riders footwear, horse trailers and on and on.
It’s easy to spend a ton of money if you are an avid horse rider. There’s nothing like being outside, breathing the fresh air and taking a 4 hour horse ride in the beautiful desert.
Today horses are part of the Olympic competitions, in circus acts, run wild in the desert, perform dressage, hunt for foxes, herd cattle, are ridden in many events at the National Finals Rodeo, ponies at County fairs for children to ride, and treasured pets and in some societies still serve as they did thousands of years ago. These events and activities each require different types of horse equipment.
Copyright (c) 2011 Sandra Tiffany