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The Horse: The Epic History of Our Noble Companion

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The book horse-lovers have been waiting for Horses have a story to tell, one of resilience, sociability, and intelligence, and of partnership with human beings. In The Horse, the journalist and equestrienne Wendy Williams brings that story brilliantly to life. Williams chronicles the 56-million-year journey of horses as she visits with horse experts around the world, reveali The book horse-lovers have been waiting for Horses have a story to tell, one of resilience, sociability, and intelligence, and of partnership with human beings. In The Horse, the journalist and equestrienne Wendy Williams brings that story brilliantly to life. Williams chronicles the 56-million-year journey of horses as she visits with horse experts around the world, revealing what our biological affinities and differences can tell us about the bond between horses and humans, and what our noble companion may think and feel. Indeed, recent scientific breakthroughs regarding the social and cognitive capacities of the horse and its ability to adapt to changing ecosystems indicate that this animal is a major evolutionary triumph. Williams charts the course that leads to our modern Equus-from the protohorse to the Dutch warmbloods, thoroughbreds, and miniature horses of the twenty-first century. She observes magnificent ancient cave art that signals a deep respect and admiration for horses well before they were domesticated, visits the mountains of Wyoming with an expert in equine behavior to understand the dynamics of free-roaming mustangs, witnesses the fluid gracefulness of the famous Lipizzaners of Vienna, contemplates what life is like for the sure-footed, mustachioed Garrano horses who thrive on the rugged terrain of Galicia, celebrates the Takhi horses of Mongolia, and more. She blends profound scientific insights with remarkable stories to create a unique biography of the horse as a sentient being with a fascinating past and a finely nuanced mind. The Horse is a revelatory account of the animal who has been at our side through the ages, carrying us into battle and traveling with us across the plains. Enriched by Wendy Williams's own experience with horses, The Horse is a masterful work of narrative nonfiction that pays tribute to this champion of the natural world.


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The book horse-lovers have been waiting for Horses have a story to tell, one of resilience, sociability, and intelligence, and of partnership with human beings. In The Horse, the journalist and equestrienne Wendy Williams brings that story brilliantly to life. Williams chronicles the 56-million-year journey of horses as she visits with horse experts around the world, reveali The book horse-lovers have been waiting for Horses have a story to tell, one of resilience, sociability, and intelligence, and of partnership with human beings. In The Horse, the journalist and equestrienne Wendy Williams brings that story brilliantly to life. Williams chronicles the 56-million-year journey of horses as she visits with horse experts around the world, revealing what our biological affinities and differences can tell us about the bond between horses and humans, and what our noble companion may think and feel. Indeed, recent scientific breakthroughs regarding the social and cognitive capacities of the horse and its ability to adapt to changing ecosystems indicate that this animal is a major evolutionary triumph. Williams charts the course that leads to our modern Equus-from the protohorse to the Dutch warmbloods, thoroughbreds, and miniature horses of the twenty-first century. She observes magnificent ancient cave art that signals a deep respect and admiration for horses well before they were domesticated, visits the mountains of Wyoming with an expert in equine behavior to understand the dynamics of free-roaming mustangs, witnesses the fluid gracefulness of the famous Lipizzaners of Vienna, contemplates what life is like for the sure-footed, mustachioed Garrano horses who thrive on the rugged terrain of Galicia, celebrates the Takhi horses of Mongolia, and more. She blends profound scientific insights with remarkable stories to create a unique biography of the horse as a sentient being with a fascinating past and a finely nuanced mind. The Horse is a revelatory account of the animal who has been at our side through the ages, carrying us into battle and traveling with us across the plains. Enriched by Wendy Williams's own experience with horses, The Horse is a masterful work of narrative nonfiction that pays tribute to this champion of the natural world.

30 review for The Horse: The Epic History of Our Noble Companion

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bora Zivkovic

    tl;dr: highly recommended for anyone who has ever seens a horse and liked it! As both a biologist and a professional equestrian I think I know quite a lot about horses. I have been learning about them from books, scientific articles, from a decade in vet school back in the day, from instructors and trainers and friends, and from horses themselves. Knowing the publisher and editor (COI note: I have published with them in the past), I expected the book to be very good. I did not expect that it woul tl;dr: highly recommended for anyone who has ever seens a horse and liked it! As both a biologist and a professional equestrian I think I know quite a lot about horses. I have been learning about them from books, scientific articles, from a decade in vet school back in the day, from instructors and trainers and friends, and from horses themselves. Knowing the publisher and editor (COI note: I have published with them in the past), I expected the book to be very good. I did not expect that it would be so stunningly good! Yes, there is a lot of information there that I am familiar with, and all of it is presented beautifully, engagingly and accurately. Sure, if I was the editor, I may have changed a word here and there, perhaps a "talent" into "adaptation", a "developed" into "evolved", but then I check myself and pull back my inner scientist and accept that some of that wording, though scientifically not super-kosher, is accurate enough, and kinda poetic and inviting as well. The book certainly does not avoid the subject of evolution and does not have a feel of "are the Creationists going to react?" at all. What surprised me was how much new I learned from the book. I learned more facts about the horse origins and evolution, ecology and natural history, anatomy and physiology, psychology and behavior, as well as about the ongoing history of the horse-human relationship, than I ever dreamed I would get out of this book. I guess my 20-year focus on mainly birds, and specific aspects of physiology and behavior (mostly daily and seasonal timing), made me miss all the exciting findings of the equine science of the past couple of decades. Importantly, some of the information is directly relevant to people like me who work with horses every day and teach the next generations of horsepeople. Some of it wil start getting incorporated into my teaching tomorrow! For most of history, the main body part of the horse that people paid attention to were legs. The old adage "no feet no horse" reigned supreme. After all, horse does all of its work by moving with its legs. The 20th century brought some changes. Some people started focusing too much on the head carriage, which brought in a whole host of training gear and methods, from side reins and draw reins to rollkur, into training of horses. Head carriage is supposed to be an indicator of good weight-carrying by a horse, not a means to that end. The backlash is now in full swing, with most of those methods and tools being regarded as anywhere between useless and harmful, even as horse abuse that is getting banned from competition grounds. Natural horsemanship (with all of its silly mystical excesses) is one of the over-reactions to this development. Exploration of bitless riding is another, much more sensible reaction. Some people are getting back to the focus on legs. Others are focusing on the back instead, some, like Jean-Luc Cornille, going to the extreme (but backed by quite a lot of research and logic and demonstrable effects) of placing the back so much to the center of attention that many lamenesses as well as behavioral problems are now squarely blamed on the back problems (as opposed to reverse as many vets do). As it tends to happen when people disagree, there is too much anger and too much denying that the other guy may be also right about something. Just because you have a hammer and everything looks like a nail, does not mean that some things are not nails, and does not mean that some things have to be nails. A combined, cool-headed approach is probably the best - sometimes it's legs, sometimes it's back, and sometimes it's something third.... But there is another new branch in the equestrian training arising recently, based on scientific research on horse behavior and psychology, and spearheaded by people whose expertise is in such science, e.g., McGreevy and McLean. As one reads their writings, another body part of the horse comes to the fore - the eye. Understanding how a horse sees (and to come extent combines vision with other senses like hearing, smell and touch) becomes the central focus of training. Learning to "see like a horse" allows one to modify riding and training method to ensure maximum trust between the horse and the human and to tackle the terrain or sporting challenges (or even management, e.g., loading on trailers) as a partnership. A horse who is on the bit, with a vertical face, cannot see to the front of it. Such a horse has to rely on the rider for guidance. If a rider is unaware of the horse's blindness in such a position, and relies on the horse's inititative and judgment, this will result in accidents like bumping into the rail of the arena, or galloping into another horse during a warm-up session at a dressage competition (all of which happens with some regularity). "Long low" position allows a horse to see in front of him better, which is sometimes what is needed. High neck carriage that is now bred into showjumpers, together with allowing for very high head carriage during the approach to the jump, allows the horse to see the jump and evaluate its height and width. Everyone is calmer that way, it's safer, and it's more efficient as a sporting strategy. The feel of relinquishing control by letting the reins get longer in front of a jump may feel terrifying, but in the end is the safer method. The book's chapter on the eye and the following chapter on the horse cognition, are excellent and up to date summaries of current knowledge. It can be useful for designing barns and paddocks, organizing the turn-out groups and herds, backing the youngsters, and training horses for work and sport. Or just for fun, because these animals are fascinating in their own right, even if you never get to work with them. And it all arises from a good understanding of the evolution and ecology of the horse, and the history of riding, as wonderfully and vividly explained in the other chapters. Warmly recommended to all who care about horses.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mark Saha

    One of my favorite Christmas gifts this year … Those who live and work with horses are justified in believing they know a lot about these animals. They certainly do – at least the ones they work with. But journalist Wendy Williams, in this affectionate and wonderfully readable little essay, describes her discovery that “ horses are much more complicated than that.” Much of the book explores how the behavior of horses adapts to different environments; e.g., she even challenges the belief that sta One of my favorite Christmas gifts this year … Those who live and work with horses are justified in believing they know a lot about these animals. They certainly do – at least the ones they work with. But journalist Wendy Williams, in this affectionate and wonderfully readable little essay, describes her discovery that “ horses are much more complicated than that.” Much of the book explores how the behavior of horses adapts to different environments; e.g., she even challenges the belief that stallions are always dominant over mares. Overall the book delivers on the promise of her introduction: “[This] is a scientific travelogue, a biography of the horse, and a worldwide investigation into the bond that unites horses and humans. By visiting and talking with scores of scientists from all over the world, in places like Mongolia and Galicia … with archeologists studying prehistoric sites in France and in the Basque country, with paleontologists in Wyoming and Germany and even downtown Los Angeles, I uncover the shared journey of horses and humans over time, examine our biological affinities and differences, and discuss the future of horses in a world filled with people.” I was astonished to discover some things I had long believed about horses are simply wrong, and grateful to this work for widening my perspective. At the same time, I find her a little too affectionate to be taken as the last word on the subject, and disagree with some of her opinions. For instance, she does expose the mystery of “Clever Clyde” the counting horse, about which I had long wondered. But then proceeds to present research suggesting to her that, though horses cannot count, they do understand the concept of number. For me the alleged “research” showed only that, given a choice, a horse will go to the basket that obviously has “more” food. Also, though many of us have a deep love for and form intimate bonds with horses, I was not much persuaded by her argument that we are uniquely linked to the horse by some almost mystical genetic bond. Nobody knows the purpose or intention of early human art depicting the horse. Bottom Line: I highly recommend this as a pleasurable read and insightful illustrated history, whether you are particularly interested in horses or not. I give it four instead of five stars for what is omitted: This affectionate exploration of man’s millennia old love affair with the animal pretends that history has no dark side. The horse suffered much widespread abuse and cruelty at the hands of man; worked by to death for economic gain in peacetime, and subjected to even worse horrors in war. More horses and mules were killed in the American Civil War than soldiers by a factor of not quite 2-1, many under conditions too unsavory to mention here. Today most people hardly think about horses at all because the automobile is cheaper and more convenient. The modern horse industry breeds the animal for specific purposes and is economically dependent on the slaughter houses to dispose of its many failures. This dark side of the history is quite dark indeed, but Ms. Williams gives us no hint it even exists – perhaps she is in denial because her theory of a human-horse genetic bond cannot explain it. The book remains a worthy read for what it does include. I learned much here and it gave me pleasure, and for that reason intend to keep and revisit it from time to time.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Audacia Ray

    I learned a lot from this book, but I wish there was a lot more of narrative of her visiting places with bands of wild horses and describing them. She traveled a lot for the Reseach for the book but it seems like that got glossed over a lot. The book is really heavy on evolution of horses... Ok I am just going to say a dumb thing here: I know evolution took a realllllly long time but I wanted it to take up less time in the book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Carol Jakubowski Delisi

    Awesome history of horses and the connection we have with them, written by someone who loves to ask questions and then research the answers. And isn't afraid to say "we don't know" - yet. Awesome history of horses and the connection we have with them, written by someone who loves to ask questions and then research the answers. And isn't afraid to say "we don't know" - yet.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea R.H.

    I really enjoyed this book! Review to come soon

  6. 4 out of 5

    Charty

    Although Williams is obviously in love with horses, she doesn't allow this affection to compromise her scholarly approach to surveying the scientific record to see where the horse has come from, and what we know about them currently and where they might be headed in the future. She smartly starts out with her own horse companions and why she found her interactions with them so fascinating. She rightly points that while much money and research time has been devoted to understanding how our other Although Williams is obviously in love with horses, she doesn't allow this affection to compromise her scholarly approach to surveying the scientific record to see where the horse has come from, and what we know about them currently and where they might be headed in the future. She smartly starts out with her own horse companions and why she found her interactions with them so fascinating. She rightly points that while much money and research time has been devoted to understanding how our other close companion animals live and think (cats, dogs) little scrutiny has been lavished on the horse. Is it because we take the horse for granted? They were integral for much of human history. They were transportation around town and across the country, four-footed tractors and sometimes dinner. Constantly in our lives but perhaps overlooked in their quiet, get it done sort of way. Williams argues that far from being the biddable, amiable partners, horses have always had a mind of their own, a language and culture if you will, that humans have not been particularly interested in on a large scale until recently. Williams delves back deep into the evolutionary past of not only the horse but of humans. Did you know that both humans and horses share knees? She traces what scientists have been able to parse out about their million + years journey on our planet, touching on climate change, habitat shifts, extinction and adaptation. I have always had a vague sort of understanding of horse development, from the earliest beginnings of the Dawn Horse, to their more horse-like ancestors, but I never really understood all the forces that went into shaping the horse as we know it today. She looks at research from the fossil record (who knew teeth could be so interesting, or so full of information) and prehistoric art all the way to the present where she details the latest studies illuminating not only how horses visually see, but how their brain processes and interprets information. Some studies suggest that the same illusions that fool the human eye also fool horses. That they can be given pictural information (two dimensional) and apply what they've learned into three dimensional real life. The best part of the book was the way Williams was able to convey the wonder, majesty and essentialness of the horse to people. What has fascinated us about horse for all these years we've shared a planet and how we've taken them for granted. I can't speak for the accuracy of a lot of the prehistoric and fossil information, but her knowledge about art and some of the current studies on perception have matched other things I have read in other contexts so I felt on the whole the factual information presented is as current as practicable. While she is interested in scientific observation and what science has to tell us, this book is not a dense scientific treatise and is written in an accessible narrative voice so that average readers without specialized knowledge of the many topics that are touched on tangentially aren't left scratching their heads in confusion. This was a satisfying and informative read that fed my emotional connection to horses while also giving me a new perspective on their history and intelligence. Highly recommend for anyone who loves horses, is interested or involved in the horse industry or indeed anyone who is fascinated by the natural world and animal intelligence.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Kelleher

    When Cortes invaded Mexico in 1519, his conquest was aided by the 16 horses he brought from Spain. The horse was unknown to the native Indians. So horses must have originated in Eurasia, right? Wrong. The first evidence of horses is from 56 million years ago, in what is now Wyoming. They flourished for 40 million years on the North American continent before a single one appeared in Asia or Europe. What happened? They became extinct in North America about 8,000-11,000 years ago. This coincided wit When Cortes invaded Mexico in 1519, his conquest was aided by the 16 horses he brought from Spain. The horse was unknown to the native Indians. So horses must have originated in Eurasia, right? Wrong. The first evidence of horses is from 56 million years ago, in what is now Wyoming. They flourished for 40 million years on the North American continent before a single one appeared in Asia or Europe. What happened? They became extinct in North America about 8,000-11,000 years ago. This coincided with the advent of humans on the continent. Human slaughter might have contributed to their demise, but there is no certainty and scientists are split on the cause. This is just one of this book's many absorbing facts about the only other creature, along with dogs, that humans have developed a special--even mystical--bond with. Some other absorbing facts: Horses have survived in cold and heat, altitude and flatland, lush plains and arid deserts, because they have been so remarkably adaptable. The earliest horses were about the size of a modern cat, and had four-toed soft paws, the better to navigate the hot marshy environment. This declined to three, then two, then one hard hoof when speed became their main protection against predators. Unlike other mammals, who eat and store, horses have a "conveyor belt" digestive system that speeds the nutrients through. This is why they eat continually. They have "emergent teeth", imbedded deep in the jaw, that continue to grow throughout their lives. They not only can, but must, wear these down by grazing, or they will be unable to close their mouths properly. Horses have about 2/3 the visual acuity of humans--better than most other creatures. But they are almost color-blind, seeing no red and only washed-out blues and greens. This explains why they are sometimes startled by odd shapes that their human rider perceived long before. The most startling fact, to me at least, is that horses and humans have a common evolutionary ancestor. The evidence is found in the similarity of our joints and skeletons. Is this the reason for our special communion with them? Williams surveys the science behind horse cognition. Much is still unknown. Do they really "think"? Not in the deductive way that humans do, but they have have the capacity to learn by watching, and have good memories. They can, for example, figure out how to open a corral gate or turn on a water spigot by watching humans do it. Are they capable of true emotional bond with humans? Emphatically yes, Williams avers. While scientists are not unanimous, she comes down on the side of those who say that their sociable nature is key to their bond with humans. They don't respond to us just because we give them food and water and apply the stick to undesired behavior. They actually like being with us. I like believing that.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Katie Andraski

    Reading The Horse: The Epic History of Our Noble Companion filled me with awe and wonder at the mystery, not only of horses, but also the mystery of our great and grand world. As a very young girl I was aware of the evolutionary story of the horse, but I had no idea the depth of the mystery or how the dynamic forces of evolution worked. This book is a solid introduction that welcomes me into the conversation, even though I have been a skeptic of evolutionary theory. The Horse opens with a descri Reading The Horse: The Epic History of Our Noble Companion filled me with awe and wonder at the mystery, not only of horses, but also the mystery of our great and grand world. As a very young girl I was aware of the evolutionary story of the horse, but I had no idea the depth of the mystery or how the dynamic forces of evolution worked. This book is a solid introduction that welcomes me into the conversation, even though I have been a skeptic of evolutionary theory. The Horse opens with a description of how widespread and beautiful early humans' artistic depictions of horses were. I was slack jawed and amazed at how much horse art people created during the Stone Age from paintings to sculptures. It's almost as though there was something mystical about this ancient relationship between humans and horses that goes beyond horses as a food or transportation source. This book is not only about the horse/human bond that goes back millennia, but it's also about how the world has always endured climate change, with warm periods that saw explosions of species and ice ages where some species adapted and survived. The Horse: Th Epic History.. illuminates how climate change has effected what species were able to survive until now. I was startled to find out how horses very nearly became extinct when savannahs changed to forests and horses weren't able to adapt fast enough. Williams has done an excellent job of reporting in this book. Even though it describes horses from a scientific perspective, Williams keeps you reading in order to find out what the next discovery is or insight is. I gained new insights into my own relationship with horses, by learning how they literally see the world. Williams draws on the latest ethological studies to show how horses get along in the wild and she draws on personal experience to convey her respect for their intelligence. I highly recommend The Horse: The Epic History of Our Noble Companion. It is a fascinating, fast and enjoyable read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bonnye Reed

    I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads Giveaway on June 24th, 2015 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Thank you so much for sharing this fine book with me. I look forward to reading it soon! This is a really good book. The Horse: The Epic History of Our Noble Companion contains loads of information, but none of it 'preached' at you. It presents more like a rambling gossip session. Wendy Williams follows the evolution of the horse, and right along side of that, the evolution of man from the Da I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads Giveaway on June 24th, 2015 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Thank you so much for sharing this fine book with me. I look forward to reading it soon! This is a really good book. The Horse: The Epic History of Our Noble Companion contains loads of information, but none of it 'preached' at you. It presents more like a rambling gossip session. Wendy Williams follows the evolution of the horse, and right along side of that, the evolution of man from the Dawn horse and the early primates to the horses and humans still around today. She follows them casually from the earliest archeological sights in North America and follows them as they appear and fade in countries around the world. This is a great book for the beginner horse lover, and will not be found boring by those with more archeological training. Give it a go. You will not be sorry. Release date is set for September 27, 2015.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mama Lee

    This was a wonderful narrative natural history of the horse. I learned a ton about the evolution of horses and how their population spread and became isolated at times. I know I added two dig sites to my list of places to visit- Ashfall in Nebraska (which I can't believe is only a state park) and Messel in Germany. The author does a wonderful job of balancing the scientific details with stories and anecdotes that keep the book from getting bogged down. Overall, I'd say a great read for those int This was a wonderful narrative natural history of the horse. I learned a ton about the evolution of horses and how their population spread and became isolated at times. I know I added two dig sites to my list of places to visit- Ashfall in Nebraska (which I can't believe is only a state park) and Messel in Germany. The author does a wonderful job of balancing the scientific details with stories and anecdotes that keep the book from getting bogged down. Overall, I'd say a great read for those into horses but those not as familiar with modern breeds should be willing to Google a bit. The Horse will be in stores next week and would make a great fall/winter read for outdoorsy folk stuck inside due to bad weather. I received an Advanced Readers copy of this book for free through Goodreads- First Reads.

  11. 4 out of 5

    David

    Everything you want to know about horses, from the time they appeared 56 million years ago through today. How do they behave? How do they think? Williams is a horse lover so her love for horses comes through the writing. My only complaint: Williams covers so much ground that I'm left wanting to know more about the interaction between humans and horses today. Even with that, this a book that provides a lot of interesting and well researched info about horses. Everything you want to know about horses, from the time they appeared 56 million years ago through today. How do they behave? How do they think? Williams is a horse lover so her love for horses comes through the writing. My only complaint: Williams covers so much ground that I'm left wanting to know more about the interaction between humans and horses today. Even with that, this a book that provides a lot of interesting and well researched info about horses.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kay Van Slyke

    I loved this book!! Any one who loves horses should read it. The author has a way with mixing the history of the horse along with some of her own experiences. I was amazed to learn all the various changes that occurred in the environment to create our current day horses. Also of interest was the story behind the "rewilding" of the Takhi horses of Mongolia. A must read for all equine enthusiasts! I loved this book!! Any one who loves horses should read it. The author has a way with mixing the history of the horse along with some of her own experiences. I was amazed to learn all the various changes that occurred in the environment to create our current day horses. Also of interest was the story behind the "rewilding" of the Takhi horses of Mongolia. A must read for all equine enthusiasts!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Terry Ransom

    This excellent book by Wendy Williams presents a broad sweep of earth history and science sufficient to kindle a fire of wonder and curiosity. Her style is engaging and fun, while still presenting complex, well-researched information in a way the draws the reader into her discoveries and allows each of us to journey together as old friends. Highly recommended!!!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Day

    Loved this book. Loved the chapter on the rewilding of the Takhi horse--I seriously want to go to Mongolia now. I'm a horse crazy person, and despite having worked with and ridden horses for years, and having read and studied them since I could hold a book--I learned many new things from this book. The info is really well researched, so well written, and super fascinating. Loved it! Loved this book. Loved the chapter on the rewilding of the Takhi horse--I seriously want to go to Mongolia now. I'm a horse crazy person, and despite having worked with and ridden horses for years, and having read and studied them since I could hold a book--I learned many new things from this book. The info is really well researched, so well written, and super fascinating. Loved it!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mackay

    What a terrific book! It's the natural history of the horse, from Eohippus, the "dawn horse," up to modern Equus and cousins, told in a warm, loving way. Highly recommended for anyone interested in geology, natural history, and horses! Great photos and graphs. Love it! What a terrific book! It's the natural history of the horse, from Eohippus, the "dawn horse," up to modern Equus and cousins, told in a warm, loving way. Highly recommended for anyone interested in geology, natural history, and horses! Great photos and graphs. Love it!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn Smith

    We've all read horse books about brilliant horses. Th1s book is a history of the evolution and long, long history of horses; revealing these animals in strikingly different ways than humans have usually portrayed them. At once informative and incredibly readable - I love it. We've all read horse books about brilliant horses. Th1s book is a history of the evolution and long, long history of horses; revealing these animals in strikingly different ways than humans have usually portrayed them. At once informative and incredibly readable - I love it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mary Mcqueen

    I want to wax poetic on this book..the most thorough but readable exploration of the evolution of the horse with examples from paleontology sites and a great discussion of why why why the horse became the horse of today. It's a gem. I want to wax poetic on this book..the most thorough but readable exploration of the evolution of the horse with examples from paleontology sites and a great discussion of why why why the horse became the horse of today. It's a gem.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Elentarri

    An interesting and beautifully written book about horses from the dawn horse to current re-wilding projects. Not terribly scientific, but a nice gift for children or adults who love horses.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Darby Karchut

    One of the best non-fiction books I've read in ages. One of the best non-fiction books I've read in ages.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    So interesting. Especially if you are interested in paleontology. The story of the evolution of the horse.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    Short history of horses and people. Personal experiences are vividly portrayed. Some color photos and a few charts.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Abbie Widger

    Very interesting

  23. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    A relative loaned me this book and I'm glad I read it. I thought it was about current wild herds of horses worldwide and what they are like. It is actually about the evolution of the horse over millions and millions of years from the "dawn horse" which we would not recognize as a horse if we were to see it today. It turns out horses are very adaptable as a species even if not as individuals. Horses adapted to changing climates and environments; when they didn't adapt, that particular animal ceas A relative loaned me this book and I'm glad I read it. I thought it was about current wild herds of horses worldwide and what they are like. It is actually about the evolution of the horse over millions and millions of years from the "dawn horse" which we would not recognize as a horse if we were to see it today. It turns out horses are very adaptable as a species even if not as individuals. Horses adapted to changing climates and environments; when they didn't adapt, that particular animal ceased to exist. The book delves into the areas where horses survive and explain how those horse came to flourish in that area. Plus, it explores how horses are social animals and make conscious choices if allowed to. Horses can bond with people as people do with dogs; again, if allowed to and if the person wants to invest the time needed to establish that bond. If you like horses, this is a good read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    RivkaBelle

    3 stars because of the reference to the saber-toothed deer ;o) This book was much more "ancient" than I expected -- focusing more on the prehistoric relatives and heritage of the horse and the other early mammals roaming the earth -- which isn't a bad thing (saber-toothed deer!). What bugged me more was the writing itself -- I've read a number of science books, and there's a way to write fact so it reads well without being scripted into narrative. This one felt choppy and sometimes forced; like t 3 stars because of the reference to the saber-toothed deer ;o) This book was much more "ancient" than I expected -- focusing more on the prehistoric relatives and heritage of the horse and the other early mammals roaming the earth -- which isn't a bad thing (saber-toothed deer!). What bugged me more was the writing itself -- I've read a number of science books, and there's a way to write fact so it reads well without being scripted into narrative. This one felt choppy and sometimes forced; like there was so much information the author felt she wouldn't get it finished, but-oh-wait-I-forgot-this-part. I kept getting bogged down in the *writing* and lost some of the reading/learning experience. It was informative though, and I definitely need to take a gallop down the beach now ... and find myself a saber-toothed deer ;o)

  25. 5 out of 5

    MaryAlice

    Also asked and received this for Christmas. (Thank you, Craig) (He knows me and horses.) I feel so grown up when I read non-fiction. And in a way I feel even more grown up when I can look down on it and say that it wasn't very good. I have 2 chief complaints. First of all, it was a little "gee whiz" about how magical horses are...which I totally agree with , but thought that had no place in a book like this. And then second, there was a whole section on the importance of the horse's vision as it Also asked and received this for Christmas. (Thank you, Craig) (He knows me and horses.) I feel so grown up when I read non-fiction. And in a way I feel even more grown up when I can look down on it and say that it wasn't very good. I have 2 chief complaints. First of all, it was a little "gee whiz" about how magical horses are...which I totally agree with , but thought that had no place in a book like this. And then second, there was a whole section on the importance of the horse's vision as it evolved, and never once did she mention that a horse does not have stereo vision. Made no sense to me. Anyway, a few interesting things in it, that I have since forgotten. I think maybe I should stick to coffee table books about horses.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    Although I did not always enjoy the author's way of speaking about things, I was very interested by the perspective of this book. The idea that horses and humans have a common evolutionary history that is a large part of the reason for our bond seems like a commonsense notion that could be taken for granted, but I've never before heard someone make a scientific case for it. This gives me a lot to think about in my interactions with the horse I ride, where I have already been striving to engage i Although I did not always enjoy the author's way of speaking about things, I was very interested by the perspective of this book. The idea that horses and humans have a common evolutionary history that is a large part of the reason for our bond seems like a commonsense notion that could be taken for granted, but I've never before heard someone make a scientific case for it. This gives me a lot to think about in my interactions with the horse I ride, where I have already been striving to engage in conversation with him about what I'm learning as a rider.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn Day

    It is indeed an epic history, and Williams shows every bit of it, taking nearly 75% of the book to trace the horse to prehistoric origins. There’s so much evolutionary research in here that you’d be forgiven if you occasionally forget the subject at hand, but eventually we get back to the modern horse, the complicated history between the animal and humans, and the amazing adaptations that allow the species to survive in nearly habitat on earth.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tyler

    I typically am not a huge fan of the travelog / history book. I like history books without the authors personal story. However she did a great job of painting the picture of what the world must have been like during each epoch. I did enjoy the earlier sections of the pre-historic evolution of the horse rather than the later chapters of horse companionship and sociology. I give it 4 stars because of the strength of the first 2/3 of book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    I wanted to like this book more than I did. The science of the evolution of horses was extremely interesting, but I think I just got tired of it eventually. I would have liked to know more about the history of horses through different human cultures, since one of the themes of the book is about the close bond between humans and horses. That just never really came about. Still an interesting read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    I have a renewed respect for horses now. As an equestrian I spent many years riding them, always assuming they weren't that intelligent. Now I know that a) they are very smart in their own way and b) there isn't nearly enough science investigating their minds. I have a renewed respect for horses now. As an equestrian I spent many years riding them, always assuming they weren't that intelligent. Now I know that a) they are very smart in their own way and b) there isn't nearly enough science investigating their minds.

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