Throughout human history, man has enjoyed a unique relationship with the horse, which he began to domesticate in around 4,000 BC, turning it from a small, primitive multi-toed creature into the magnificent animal that we know and love today. The horse offers us its strength and loyalty, and we nurture and have even worshipped it in return, shaping it to suit our needs until it has become an integral part of our history on Earth.
Of all the domesticated animals, the horse has had the greatest influence on the human imagination while providing loyal and intelligent service throughout its long evolution. Using selective breeding, we have developed the horse to suit our requirements, climatic and territorial, so that today there are many contrasting breeds, from the tiny Shetland Pony, suitable for life in a harsh environment, to the heavy Shire Horse, designed for its strength, work ethic and placid temperament.
Horse breeds are loosely divided into three categories based on general temperament: “hotbloods,” which are high spirited with speed and endurance; “coldbloods,” such as draft horses and some ponies, suitable for slow, heavy work; and “warmbloods,” developed from crosses between hotbloods and coldbloods, often focusing on creating breeds for specific riding purposes. There are more than 300 breeds of horse in the world today.
The ultimate example of horse breeding which can be found in every continent, is the Thoroughbred, whose speed and stamina in the racing world is second to none. More modern breeding methods have given us the sporthorse, produced for no other purpose than to take part in modern equine competition, of which the Hanoverian, AmericanWarmblood and Dutch Warmblood are notable examples.