56 million years of evolution
(aka: why we love horses)
Aired January 19, 2018
Wendy Williams, science journalist and author, has written for a wide variety of iconic publications, including Scientific American, Science, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, and Audubon magazine. As well, Wendy is a lifelong equestrian and is legendary for her love of horses.
In her book, The Horse: the Epic History of Our Noble Companion, Wendy chronicles 56 million years through extensive research and her conversations with horse experts around the world, revealing how our biological affinities -- and differences – help define the horse/human bond. And she shares her belief that horses and humans are bound to one another in a fashion that “is somehow encoded in our genes.”
There is no question that man’s evolution over the millennia, that the rise and fall of civilizations, and that our very existence was directly affected – and due in large part – to our relationship with horses.
As a species, horses have shown a surprising resilience and adaptability that has allowed them to exist in almost all climates – from the hottest desert to freezing alpine mountaintops. And scientists acknowledge that horses are more intelligent than even the most avid horseperson might have thought.
While how we train horses continues on a gentler, more natural approach … with the horse’s well-being central to the effort, there remain very pressing issues humans need to address. Among them: how do we resolve the current challenges of managing the last of our free-roaming horses? And what does the future hold for the human/horse relationship? Perhaps we can find insight into these issues – and many others – by examining our very long history with horses, as our two species evolved in parallel.