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The Horse in the Ancient World, by Ann Hyland

The Horse in the Ancient World

by Ann Hyland; Sutton Publishing. 210pp. ISBN 0-275-98114-2. RRP $US47.95.

October 15, 2003

Ann Hyland will be known to many breeders and riders as the author of many equestrian books, including endurance, breeding and specific breed books. She is also considered a leading expert in the field of equine history, having worked with the makers of such television programmes as Battlefield Walks and The Warhorse.

Her latest book is an incredibly in-depth study of the very early history of the horse from the period of 2300BC to 300BC - long before there were any breeds as such, but types were being developed. The role of the horse in ancient civilisations such as the Hittites and the Steppe and Hun tribes is explored.

Going on evidence from ancient texts, we learn that even back then - as today - there were good horsemen and not so good. Some things have not changed over the centuries, it seems.

Horses were, obviously, most used by military as both mounted and driven (by chariot) modes of transportation by warring civilisations such as civilisations in the likes of Greece, Assyria, Palestine and Egypt. As a spin-off from this Hyland has studied how horses were acquired by the various groups, and how these warhorses were selected and trained.

There are several illustrations including maps of the areas of expansion by nations. There are also drawings and photographs of ancient reliefs showing horses in action. A look at the bits used I also interesting. For more than a millennium, metal bits were always simple jointed snaffles - but these sometimes had the charming additions of spikes, burrs, rotating discs, and prickers, so were rather severe.

This is a book for the serious student of history, and for those wanting to know more about the early history of the interaction between horse and man. Some things have not changed that much, it seems.



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