Human life began on the African continent approximately 200,000 years ago. Descending from a primarily tree dwelling mammal that spent the majority of its time on four legs the species’ rise in stature was a long and laborious one. Despite a slow beginning, over the subsequent millennia, we expanded our reach. Trudging through forest, over mountain and across plain leaving the prints of our passage along the way we ventured forth. Lascaux, Altamira and the Magura cave document our spread on the epic voyage as we expanded planet-wide. On this journey we were not alone.
Cave dwellers painted what they saw and knew. The boar, bison and feral horse. About 10,000 years ago the first evidence of domestication is evident. Starting with the wolf, man gradually bent nature to his will and created the dog. Wild horses followed soon after. A relentless tinkerer, man, was not satisfied with only this. We started to refine.
Initially seeing the domestic equine as a source of meat some millennia passed before the horse started to be used as a beast of burden. At that point however things started to gather pace. The precursors of the Western World began to emerge from the Russian steppe. These proto-Indo-Europeans were the Yamnaya. Having had the singular technological breakthrough of discovering the potential of using the horse as a mode of conveyance a military technological revolution ensued.
Utilising this competitive advantage to dominate their farming precursors they pushed out from the Steppe to create a culturally contiguous society that spanned from Ireland, through Eurasia to the under-hills of the Himalayas. It is from this equine culture that many of our legendary heroes and Gods spring. Zeus, Odin, Osiris and Dagda are the many faces of this culture’s deity.
The image of the heroic warrior on his chariot pulled by his noble steeds was never far behind them. Cuchulainn, Agamemnon, Vishnu and Thor bestrode their marvellous chariots as they rode to battle accompanied by their fleet footed horses. Time passed,the shape changed but the mode remained. Ramses, Alexander and Genghis rode across the pages of history with the horse at the centre of their formation. Later armoured knights, robed sultans and freshly minted emperors gallantly galloped to war. Some of them even rode back.