Ever wondered when man rode a horse for the first time? The history of horseback riding can be traced back to about 4500 BC. This write-up will tell you more.
“Wherever man has left his footprints in the long ascent from barbarism to civilization, we find the hoofprint of a horse beside it.”
―John Trotwood Moore
In the modern world, where technology-based speed transport facilities are available, we often forget that there was a time when horses were the main mode of transportation all over. In bygone days, horses were an integral part of everyday life, be it for trading, transportation, or warfare. Horse riding requires skill and proficiency. The skill of riding a horse is referred to as equestrianism. This term covers the use of horse for working purposes and recreational activities.
A Brief History About Horseback Riding
Indirect evidence shows that man started using a horse as far back as 6000 BC. However, it is believed that horseback riding may have begun around 4500 BC.
Horse drawings existed as early as 3000 BC. Horse-pulled chariot carvings seen in caves can also be traced to the Bronze Age. However, the earliest record of horse riding found in a tomb in Egypt is believed to date to around 1600 BC. In those times, Egyptians mostly used chariot horses for warfare purposes, besides transportation.
There are many controversies regarding the identity of the first people to ride horses. The Brahmins of India claim to be the first horse riders. According to the history of Chinese culture, they started riding horses as early as 4000 BC, and started systematic breeding programs as far back as 1000 BCE.
During the Medieval Period (from 5th to 15th century), horses were categorized by their usage, not by their breed. For example, the chargers were used for warfare, and the carthorses were used for pulling carts. The ancient culture of horseback riding has contributed a lot to the current styles of horse riding, namely, the Western and the English riding styles. The basic elements of both styles are very similar to each other; only the purpose and equipment are different.
It is believed that the Western style of riding originated in the mid 1600s, in northern Mexico and southwestern United States. In this style, the cowboy and cowgirl ride horses for work purposes such as to tend and rope cattle. Thus, the rider wears clothes meant for protection, like long-sleeve shirts, hats, and boots. Deep-seated saddles, very different from the ones used in the English style, are used in the Western style riding.
The English riding style, on the other hand, originated in Europe, and was brought to United States. It is regarded as the traditional way of horseback riding, in which there a lot of communication between the rider and the horse. In this style, the appearance of the rider is given preference, and the saddle used is lightweight with a flat seat.
Nowadays, one can opt for horse racing for recreation, exercise, or even a sports career. Apart from being a great exercise, riding a horse on its bare back is a useful means to learn how to maintain proper balance.