The Impact of the Horse on Western Civilization
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History has been defined in many ways. To most, it is the study of names and dates. To others, it is the study of progress. To others still, possibly less optimistic, it is the study of change. Accepting the last definition for this paper, then the study of the horse can be quite enlightening. The various uses of the horse over time can reflect men's attitudes towards themselves and towards nature and can reflect their changes over time due to various reasons. The full study of the role of the horse in history would be a multi-volume work. Here, I have chosen to limit my study to Western Civilization. Within this study, I hope to prove that the horse has been an integral part of the cultural modes of our Western Heritage. I have chosen to conclude with the Middle Ages because it is during this time that the horse was most fully exploited, both militaristically and agriculturally. The Middle Ages marks the beginning of understanding and exploiting animal power as a replacement of human energy as the prime movers in civilization. It has only been recently that the horse has been replaced by the automobile, the tractor, and the tank. These changes were due to the development of the engine. The changes of the 19th Century are more likely changes in speed and dimension than they are changes in principle. The innovation of "horse power" lies in the Middle Ages.