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From working horse to riding companion
Originally, horses were simply a means of transport and facilitating work.
Whether on the saddle, in a coach or riding a sleigh – with the power of horses you reached your destination much faster than on foot. These strong animals also helped with agricultural and forestry work.
Nowadays – at least in developed nations – the applications of horses has largely shifted to the sports, leisure and therapy sectors.
Photo: CC0, pixabay.com
The most classic and typical sport on horseback is definitely riding, which in turn can be divided into numerous disciplines such as jumping, dressage, westerns and versatility.
But even those who don't ride can stil l enjoy the experience of being around horses. In summer there is the horse-drawn carriage. In winter you can be comfortably and warmly wrapped up in the horse-drawn sleigh as you journey through the snowy landscape.
Sports like vaulting – a kind of gymnastics on horseback – are a bit more unusual. Lunging is used for training both rider and horse.
Many people with physical, psychological, pedagogical and social-integrative difficulties find it helpful to undergo a horse therapy. Therapeutic riding is mainly about the relationship between humans and animals.
Horses are by nature very sensitive beings. In order to be considered as a therapy horse, an animal must be calm and patient as well as sociable.
By the way: It does not always have to be a horse – donkeys, llamas and camels are also suitable for riding therapy.
From the cart to the modern carriage
They are the great-grandfathers, grandfathers and fathers of our vehicles today. The Romans used horse-drawn carriages to travel through their vast empire. It was not until the 15th century, however, that most of the carts were spring-mounted – before that, a journey was anything but comfortable for humans and animals.
Covered wagons play a special role in the settlement of the American West. Families often met distances of several thousand kilometres in the so-called “Prairie Schooner”. In the past, horse-drawn wagons were also used to transport hay, crops and other loads.
In the postal system, stagecoaches carried goods as well as long-distance travellers. They were the most important means of public transport in Europe and America for over two centuries.
The carriage as we know it today evolved from cabs and carriages, which in the 18th and 19th centuries were a means of transport for the rich and powerful. To purchase a handmade carriage and draught horses was very expensive and the carriage therefore a real status symbol.