Horses and Their Regions
Copyright 2006 Rob Daniels Horses thrived and survived in various regions and climates. Each area developed distinct breeds with qualities that were vital to the people of that region. In many ways, horses changed the lives of the people they served. Desert Nomads and Horses In the desert and grasslands, camels are more practical as they can survive long periods without food and water, unlike horses. As a result few true desert bred horses exist today, so they are rarely seen in show rings, remaining mostly for breeding. Other desert type horses evolved, but none were ever considered by the Bedouins for their Arabians.
The nomadic people were the first to domesticate horses. They encouraged both pacing and other flying gaits which could carry their tribes long distances without tiring the horses. The severe climate required the nomads to share food and water, and sometimes even their tents with their horses. In addition, with the nomadic nature of the Gypsy peoples, their horses had to be adaptable to varying climates, terrains and living conditions. The result of this culling has led to the Gypsy Vanner Horse being one of the most docile horses in the world.
Icelandic Horses Centuries of isolation in Iceland has produced an extremely sure footed horse who is agile on rough terrain and shows great reserves of stamina. The Icelandic Horse has been able to keep it's due to the purity of the breed, being the only breed in Iceland. Of the most fascinationg feature of the Icelandic horse is it's extreme genetic purity. The hardships they survived have given a horse that is not afraid to face the world. Both horse and people have had to face cold and starvation on more than one occasion in Iceland. The horse carried it's owners over the rough terrain of Iceland which includes lava fields, mountains, and many rivers. It is certainly not an ideal setting for the horse. Vikings and Horses The Vikings recognized the value and political power of their horses and gave them a place of great honor in their history and culture. To them, the horse was more than a war horse or a means of travel. So, when the first Vikings set sail to explore Northern oceans, along with them went the strong little horses.
American Indians and Horses Indians of that era had never seen horses and to them the horse and rider team were a godlike being. Many religious ceremonies were based on the horse and its contribution to the life of the Indian. To try and keep this belief, it was illegal for some years for an Indian to ride a horse much less own one. The acquisition of the horse completely changed the Plains Indian's way of life, transforming them from plodding pedestrians to nomadic hunters and warriors.