Have you ever wondered about the person who first thought it was a good idea to try to ride a horse?
I had always thought that the horse was initially driven, but recent archeological finds have suggested that the horse was actually ridden first.
What the heck were they thinking?
I suppose early man noticed that the horse was swift, agile, and athletic.
Even his features, glossy coat, flowing mane and long tail, added up to some unmistakable standard of beauty. So, I suppose that might have had an appeal, albeit one difficult to measure.
But they must have had other reasons since I am not sure how much time early man had for the appreciation of beauty. Perhaps they observed and appreciated the fact that the horse, unlike most hoofed animals, didn’t have horns or antlers. (Thank heavens for small mercies.)
As a grazer, the horse’s jaw bones had grown longer over time, ensuring that he could keep an eye on his surroundings while fulfilling his nutritional requirements in the tall grass of the open plains. The elongation of his jaw bones left a gap in the horse’s mouth behind his incisors and in front of his molars. On a practical level, this provided a perfect place for some kind of instrument of control to rest.
Domestication also required a commitment from both the animal being domesticated as well as the human doing the domestication. At some point the horse probably came to believe that he had a better chance of being fed by these hairless creatures than being eaten by them.
The horse, being a generalist in terms of his diet, would be easier to domesticate than let’s say, a panda bear. If you tried to domesticate panda bears and you ran out of bamboo shoots, it wouldn’t take too long to run out of panda bears. The horse on the other hand could eat a wide variety of grains, fruits and vegetables and so he could probably survive on the scraps that early man left just outside the glow of the fire pit.
All these things make sense but still someone, somewhere had to lie awake one night and decide that tomorrow, it might be a good idea to try to sit on one of those things…
We can only imagine the reaction he received from his peers. His wife probably rolled her eyes and suggested that for his next trick he should try flapping his arms and flying up to that white disc in the sky.
Actually, on many levels, the courage of that first rider has to rank pretty close to the courage of our moon walking astronauts and the task, under the circumstances, no less daunting.
Whoever that first rider was, kudos to him!