Wild Horses: Moving Humans & Machinery

Wild Horses

Mustangs and Humans



Horse and Stagecoach Travel
The first stagecoach in the American colonies made the trip from Boston to Providence, Rhode Island on May 13, 1718. The stagecoach mode of travel endured for nearly 200 years, thanks to dedicated drivers and dependable horses. The horses pulling the stagecoaches in America lived a strenuous but appreciated life. They were usually treated with respect by their drivers and received excellent care and attention as the travel schedule depended on their health and well being. American horses worked for as long as 15 years. By comparison, a stagecoach horse in England lasted only three years on the job. Some of the American horses may have logged as many as a quarter of a million miles during their stints as stagecoach horses. By the middle of the nineteenth century, stagecoaches were largely replaced by the railroad in the East.

Horse and Industry
The Industrial Revolution of the late 1700s and early 1800s saw rapid growth in the use of technology, and ironically, the need for horses increased. Demands for the transportation of people, manufactured goods, and sources of power for agricultural machinery grew at astronomical rates. Horses were everywhere. They were harnessed to buses and carriages within cities and logged long hours as teams pulling public stagecoaches between towns not connected by the railways. In areas with train transportation the harness horse taxied people and goods to the "Iron Horse" depots. The nineteenth century brought the construction of canals throughout the eastern United States, and horses were again called upon to draw the canal barges. Horse power also continued to plow fields and trudge the produce wagons to market and the railroad.

The Horse in Transition — 1900
With the twentieth century came radical changes in the world of the horse. The unrelenting rise of technology left the horse in the dust of the internal combustion engine. But their numbers continued to grow. In 1915, the horse population in America peaked at over 21 million.

Then World War I would take its toll. Large numbers of horses were sent to the battlefields of Europe during World Wat I. The resulting decrease in horse population brought about a change in public perception of the horse, as a pleasure animal rather than work animal. The "beast of burden" gave way to a larger role for the horse as friend and companion.

Today's horse enjoys a major role in recreation and organized competition. Many breeds, including wild ones, are now being revived. Selective and systemic breeding is enhancing the quality of horses to levels previously unattained in the past. The future looks bright and promising for horses around the world. The admiration, respect, and high regard for this admirable creature and its contribution to the world as we know it today is finally being realized.

Today there are hundreds of breeds and specific types of horses. The final "Legacy of the Horse" is an increasing population of pure and distinct breeds; horses of quality and beauty, horses for sport, work, and pleasure, and horses that run wild on the land, their continued freedom in the hands of us all.



Ancient Connection          Journey to the New World
Native Americans          Catlin's Observations
Palo Duro Canyon Tragedy           The Horse in Agriculture
Moving Humans & Machinery          Waging War
The Sporting Horse          Equine Quiz