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"How would history have been different without the horse? " Topic

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4th Cuirassier07 Aug 2017 8:54 a.m. PST

That is, if there were no horses; not if there were horses but we never figured out how to tame them.


Murvihill07 Aug 2017 9:25 a.m. PST

1. There would be many more cows, camels and oxen used for pulling wagons.
2. Long term breeding of cows for speed would result in some pretty fast cows.
3. There would be many more recipes for cooking horse.

Murvihill07 Aug 2017 9:26 a.m. PST

Oops, cancel number three, misread the question.

advocate07 Aug 2017 9:38 a.m. PST

Slower development all round. Difficult to transport food in quantity, so smaller cities. No Mongols.

badger22 Inactive Member07 Aug 2017 9:59 a.m. PST

Perhaps domesticate zebras.


Dynaman878907 Aug 2017 10:00 a.m. PST

Not a whole heck of a lot different as long as the other service animals are still around.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2017 10:15 a.m. PST

There would be few oil paintings of Napoleonic Marshals on rearing oxen.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2017 10:16 a.m. PST

The cry "My kingdom for an ox!" just wouldn't carry the same weight, causing Shakespeare to have a flop when he needed a hit, and crashing the English theatre system, with unimaginable and devastating repercussions across literature and politics (as speechwriters wouldn't know who to crib from).

dsfrank Inactive Member07 Aug 2017 10:22 a.m. PST

cowboys would have really been cowboys

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2017 10:30 a.m. PST

Donkey chariots rule!

attilathepun47 Inactive Member07 Aug 2017 10:45 a.m. PST

Christopher Marlowe, however, might be known around the world for his plaintive line, "An ass, an ass, my kingdom for an ass!"

Deucey Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2017 11:10 a.m. PST

Just look at the Aztecs and Incas!

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP07 Aug 2017 11:30 a.m. PST

I don't think I've heard a 'llama' suggestion Duecey !!!

Historicalgamer07 Aug 2017 11:37 a.m. PST

I would imagine cavalry charges would have been much slower. Unless someone had figured out how to ride a cheetah!

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2017 11:42 a.m. PST

Breed really big dogs?

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member07 Aug 2017 1:03 p.m. PST

Mr. Ed would have been a bull and, gasp, Francis the Talking Mule would have never been born!

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member07 Aug 2017 1:05 p.m. PST

Who are the Mongols and what is a Golden Horde?

Lambert Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2017 2:00 p.m. PST

The Normans wouldn't have broken the shield wall at Hastings, and William the Bastard would have gone down in history as William the Loser. Unless the Norman knights rode cattle instead, or donkeys, or large goats. Or kangaroos.

AussieAndy Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2017 2:11 p.m. PST

I wouldn't be going to the races at Flemington on Saturday.

Louie N Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2017 2:25 p.m. PST


gamershs Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2017 2:26 p.m. PST

How about Zebras

Louie N Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2017 2:27 p.m. PST


Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2017 3:08 p.m. PST

Forget zebras, they don't behave like horses, can't be broken and they remain savage even when they seem trained and docile. The Belgians attempted to use them in Africa, set up a huge veterinary hospital and luxury stables to no avail. They would throw riders, bite and kick them and try to run away at every possible occasion. In one instance they tried to shoe a zebra and it went nuts, devastating the holding pen made of thick wood and iron.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2017 3:15 p.m. PST

How about Zebras

Germans in East Africa 1911!

Elenderil07 Aug 2017 3:19 p.m. PST

Did I have a weird dream or did I once read that European Elk/Caribou were used as riding animals in the far North. Anyone for the Charge of the light brigade providing the Russian gunners with a fine Venison supper after the battle?

spontoon07 Aug 2017 3:21 p.m. PST

How about using Aurochs?

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2017 3:33 p.m. PST

How about dog sleds with wheels?

Without something to replace the horse, humanity would advance very slowly.

42flanker07 Aug 2017 4:20 p.m. PST

The elephant and camel corps would have gained greater credence, while the Plains Indians would have remained poor cousins.

(Man would probably have domesticated the zebra in the end

4th Cuirassier07 Aug 2017 4:32 p.m. PST

I hadn't thought of camels. Would there have been breeding of camels suitable for temperate climes?

I don't think zebras should be allowed. In a world with no horses I struggle with zebras existing.

Can you ride a kangaroo?

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2017 9:50 p.m. PST

If not equines, then it would have been camels.


Though I'm sure there would have been creative attempts at riding other animals, which would have been bred to be bigger and stronger with each generation, the way warhorses were bred. :)



GurKhan08 Aug 2017 1:49 a.m. PST

I hadn't thought of camels. Would there have been breeding of camels suitable for temperate climes?

You'd probably start with the Bactrian camel rather than the desert Arabian; it is already accustomed to extremes of both heat and cold, coming from "continental" climate zones in Central Asia, so should be OK in temperate areas. The problem in other regions might be that I have no idea how it copes with damp conditions. I think it's slower than the Arabian, as well.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2017 2:18 a.m. PST

Zebras evolved on a continent where there were more than a few large predators, the simple flee reflex doesn't cut it in Africa and zebras learned to be mean sobs biting and kicking before going down. And a zebra kick can be nasty, they have been documented killing lions with a few well placed kicks.

Here's more on the subject :

YouTube link

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2017 2:22 a.m. PST

Didn't camels originate in North America and didn't they do just fine during the Ice Ages, which is when they crossed over into Siberia?


Ottoathome Inactive Member08 Aug 2017 3:08 a.m. PST

Pretty much like our world is today never having had the naugha or the snipe.

Deucey Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2017 8:42 a.m. PST

I guess I missed the point, I thought it was how would history be different without horses, not: "What else could we ride?"

attilathepun47 Inactive Member08 Aug 2017 10:17 a.m. PST


You did not dream it. Reindeer can indeed be broken to ride, as well as draw Santa's sleigh. I have seen film of Sammi (Lapplanders) riding reindeer.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2017 10:37 a.m. PST

I think Elephant corps would have been more popular too!

42flanker08 Aug 2017 11:56 a.m. PST

I guess I missed the point, I thought it was how would history be different without horses, not: "What else could we ride?"

But isnt that the point? Man clearly saw a use for beasts of burden and draught. Animals to ride is the next step. if horses weren't available then He, as we, would cast his eye about for something else.

If the question had been, "What if man had not been able to domesticate animals for his transport requirements ?," well, that's a different discussion. Would he still be able to herd animals for food?

Essentially, would we not be saying, "What if man had remained at the semi-nomadic stage of development, hunting and foraging for sustenance?

Ottoathome Inactive Member08 Aug 2017 2:58 p.m. PST

Dear Deucey. you over-estimate gamers. You took away one of their toys, they want them back.

The question is also domestication. Many species, horses not the least are products of domestication which is a conscious breeding effort -- an intervention by man in the specific genetics of the animals. All "domesticated" animals show this. 42 Flanker has the right idea as well.

goragrad08 Aug 2017 9:53 p.m. PST

Without horses history would not have seen a drastic change.

Cattle were domesticated early on and would have been available as riding animals instead. In fact cattle (and yaks

) have been used as riding animals in place of or as a supplement to horses.

While cattle are in general slower, had they been the only available alternative they would have had seen breeding efforts to produce speedier versions.

Picture a squadron mounted on these hitting a formation of infantry -


As I recall, there was something on one of the documentaries about a difference in grazing patterns between cattle based steppe tribes and horse based as leading to different migrations and invasions due to climate. Could have led to a different timing for those events, but the overall pattern would have been much the same.

Lion in the Stars08 Aug 2017 10:31 p.m. PST

@Herkybird: Pretty sure that German is riding a Zorse (zebra/horse cross, like how a horse/donkey cross is a mule).

My money would be on camel riders in most of Asia, Aurochs riders in Europe.

No clue how that fight would have worked, when the Golden Horde's Camelry ran into the Aurochs Knights of Poland.

boy wundyr x Inactive Member09 Aug 2017 10:23 a.m. PST

Don't forget Canada's supply of moose.

Deucey Supporting Member of TMP12 Aug 2017 8:13 a.m. PST

The Aztec Empire was a highly advanced civilization without domesticated animals.

42flanker12 Aug 2017 10:16 a.m. PST

Their options were fairly limited.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP12 Aug 2017 3:50 p.m. PST

Can you imagine a loud yappy Chihuahua bred to be the size of a horse?




Legion 413 Aug 2017 8:06 a.m. PST

The Aztec Empire was a highly advanced civilization without domesticated animals.
But … they were conquered by a much higher advanced civilization with domesticated animals, i.e. horses … wink

Just say'n ! evil grin

42flanker13 Aug 2017 2:11 p.m. PST

Do you think the steel swords and firearms helped a bit?

ced110613 Aug 2017 9:16 p.m. PST

Search on "when did japan have horses". Interesting stuff.

Whatisitgood4atwork Inactive Member13 Aug 2017 9:17 p.m. PST

It would have taken ages to breed goats big enough to first pull chariots, and then to ride. After that, similar.

Whatisitgood4atwork Inactive Member13 Aug 2017 9:24 p.m. PST


Apologies for the language. I tried to find the image without a caption.

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