Horses, Culture, and the Significance of the Arabian Horse Throughout History.
Prologue: Throughout history, horses have significantly impacted the human species in more ways than many people can begin to understand. Before horses carried men into war, letters across countries, pulled wagons along the Oregon trail, provided police with easier means to control civil disobedience, or acted as fire-engines, they were already culturally active in the role of human survival during different crucial times throughout the progression of human development.
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Through the course of history, horses have been a major source of food for early human ancestors such as the Cro-magnons, who drove horses off of cliffs, then slaughtered the horses that survived the plunge, and taking what they needed to survive back to their camps (Kahn, et al 2005:34). In times of great depression, such as the early seventies in Honolulu, New Jersey, and Connecticut, horsemeat could be purchased cheaper than beef (Olsson 2006:238).
Horses also enabled Native Americans a way to travel far distances in short periods of time, giving them a better chance to escape from greedy foreigners, and possibly as a last resort, food to eat. Unfortunately, after all that horses have done for the development of mankind, horsemeat continues to be a delicacy in foreign countries (Olsson 2006:238); and not just a means to survive when there are no other options.
Horsemeat is still served raw in France, Belgium, and Japan, used in a stew called pastissada in Italy, fried in Spain, smoked in Sweden, and made into horse burgers at a Slovenian fast-food chain named “Hot Horse, make a popular late-night snack” (Olsson 2006:238). “A Horse, is not simply something that must be ridden. It is an animal that must eat, that belongs to somebody. It has economic values” (Mead 1934:12). Sometimes, because horses have economic value, the consideration of them having needs very similar to that of a human is lost, and they are treated as if they were merely possessions or items to be traded.
Horses are beings that require food, exercise, maintenance, and care. No matter the moral or unjust reasons of why gambling on animals is wrong; gambling in Northern America has also made the racing industry a significant part of American culture. In the last hundred years since the creation of the automobile, humans used horses less as a necessity of life and more in the sense of sports, entertainment, recreation, hobbies for the rich, and mainly life-styles of the poor. Along with economic impacts on culture, horses have also created a technological, chronemic, interpersonal, and psychological impact on human culture (Helmer 1991:175).
Technology inspired by the horse helped to create the automobile, and today the carriage is used as a sporting event in harness racing (Helmer 1991:187). Horse people dedicate their lives and live everyday as if it were on repeat. Owning a horse sets horse people culturally at a different level than most others who don’t have to feed a horse twice a day or muck its stall (Helmer 1991:189). In equine sports and recreation, the popularity of the horse or trainer and affiliation with, contributes to the social aspect of culture within a “horse community” (Helmer 1991:190).
Horses also contribute to the way a community’s psychological culture is affected. In a town with a dense population of horse people, one could find it particularity common that the town is for the most part full of down to earth, understanding, and kind individuals because of the ways in which they relate to their horses (Helmer 1991:191). While examining the urban development over the last hundred years or so, it could be analyzed through deduction that the adoption of the horse into human culture has also ultimately, either saved the Equus from becoming completely extinct, or, it has saved them from becoming seriously endangered.
Horse lovers are preventing horses from being let out onto highways, rounded up, put into double-decker cattle trucks not tall enough to accommodate a comfortable trip, and sent to slaughterhouses hundreds of miles away. (Olsson 2006: 246:242). Horses helped to move along human existence, and in turn many people have brought horses into their hearts, families, and life-styles. Regardless of the immense contribution that the entire equine species has had on the growth of human culture, there is one breed of horse in particular that had the most significant impact on the human culture.
The Cultural Significance of the Arabian Horse: The entire equine species has impacted the evolutionary stages and development of human world cultures enough that they have significantly affected the way that history was created. Not only have horses imprinted human culture by service, but they have also left footprints in Native surroundings, creating large cultural worth other than that of a culture’s use of the horse as a means to survive. Like the cow in the Hindu religion, the Arabian horse is considered to be by the Bedouins and other native Arab cultures, sacred and god’s gift to mankind.
An ancient Bedouin legend that Ishamael, took a handful of the southerly wind and created the Arabian horse, and that it holds its virtue in its forelock. The Arabian horse was their gift from Allah. The Bedouin’s prized their horses and even slept with them inside of their tents in order to protect their beautiful steeds from sandstorms. The Arabian horse loved their owners as much as their owners cherished them. They used their horses to find water, and when let go to run loose in the desert, the loyal horses returned.
They also used their horses to cross the deserts and migrate to new lands (Arabian horses legacy). With their tiny, dished faces, big eyes, neat ears, and large nostrils, the Arabian horse prances with nostrils flared, tail and head held high in the air, and an ego; which says it all. The Arabian breed is the foundation of all but a few of the hundreds of breeds of horses. It is one of the purest breeds in world, the creator and primary foundation for today’s culture, thus making them the most culturally significant breed of horse to impact human culture.
References Cited Arabian Horses Legacy Horses in Arabic Culture < http://www. arabian-horses-legacy. com/arabian-horses-in-arabic-culture. html> Helmer, J. 1991 The Horse in Backstretch Culture. Qualitative Sociology 14(2):p175 Kahn, Charles; et al 2005 World history: societies of the past, 2nd ed. Winnipeg: Portage & Main Press. Mead, G. 1934 Mind, self, and society. Chicago: U. of Chicago Olsson, Karen 2006 Eating dead horse. Texas Monthly 34(12):160-249