The Horse's Influence on American Civilization
Who knows what the world would be like today were it not for the existence and domestication of the horse? Man invaded and conquered foreign lands from the back of his warhorse and built civilizations with his workhorse hitched to a plow or wagon. Our partner for centuries, perhaps no other animal has served man in so many diverse ways, nor suffered so dearly for it.
Before the invention of the automobile, the horse served as man's primary means of transportation in many parts of the world. The horse can cover a lot more ground in a day's travel than a person can on foot. It can also haul heavy loads, transporting goods along with people in stagecoaches, wagons, and trolleys. Horses carried homesteaders and their belongings in covered wagons into the wild American West and helped expand and transform a few struggling colonies into a great nation.
The development of harnesses and agricultural equipment made using horses to operate farming equipment a viable option. This enabled people to plow and till the land and grow crops on a larger scale than they had before. In time, evolving agricultural practices changed the landscape, as settlers felled trees, hitched horses to the heavy trunks, and cleared the woods to allow for bigger fields and farms.
American settlers desired horses that were multifunctional. They wanted horses they could ride, plow fields with, and hitch to a carriage for a drive to church on Sunday. One of the first American breeds, the Morgan horse, is noted for its versatility and easily filled this bill. Other American breeds such as the Saddlebred and the Tennessee Walker developed from plantation horses, bred for their easy gaits. A man could sit comfortably and ride them over miles and miles of farmland without tiring.