When I mention horses, it brings many different images or memories to people’s mind. Some think of the vast herds that roam parts of the western United States. Others think of a coral in the backyard or on a farm where they are cared for and occasional ridden. A number of people think of them as beasts of burden that are packed with loads of provisions and being led along some trail. Then there are the sport enthusiasts who think of horse races, steeplechases, equestrian events, polo games and rodeos.
When I think of horses, it reminds me of deer hunting on horseback or breaking horses that have been captured from wild herds on the range. It also reminds me of my days riding saddlebroncs in the rodeo. I also recall the time I was shoeing a stallion when he managed to kick me in the chest, cracking my sternum and two ribs. Aw, such fond memories of the good old days.
Horses have been part of man’s history nearly from the beginning but when were they first tamed and domesticated?
Among evolutionists, this has long been a debate between different fields of study. Archaeologists study ancient civilizations for signs of horses. The general view held by many in this field is that horses were first domesticated in the western Eurasian Steppe which includes southwestern Russia, western Kazakhstan and the Ukraine. Among the earliest usages of horses were for meat, milk and for riding.
Some geneticists studied the mitochondrial DNA of horse and concluded that horses were domesticated at different times throughout Europe and Asia.
However, those studying horse nuclear DNA believe they have a different conclusion about when and where the horse was first domesticated. They collected DNA samples from horses in various parts of Europe and Asia totaling 300 specimens. Then they fed the genetic data obtained from the samples into a computer model that had a number of different domestication scenarios programed into it.
According to Dr Vera Warmuth of the Zoology Department at Cambridge University:
“It shows that horse domestication originated in the western part of the Steppes and that the spread of domestication involved lots of integration of wild horses.”
Warmuth also believes that the genetic data they collected indicates the first domestication to have taken place around 6,000 years ago. She also said that it appears that wild mares were used from time to time to help restock the herds.
Their figure of 6,000 years ago closely coincides with the time of creation and Adam and Eve. Genesis 1:24-25 says:
And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
Note that Genesis defines one of the kinds of animals created on Day 6 was livestock. Livestock includes horses, cattle, sheep, goats and camels among others. Separating them from the beasts of the earth indicates that they were created specifically to be used by man for his purposes. Thus, biblically speaking, we know that horses were domesticated from the very beginning, about 6,000 years ago.
Briggs, Helen. Mystery of horse taming ‘solved’ by gene study, BBC News, May 8, 2012.
Mystery of the Domestication of the Horse Solved: Competing Theories Reconciled, Science Daily, May 7, 2012.
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