Before the invention of the automobile, horses were one of the most common work animals around. While farmers might use oxen to plow a field, a horse could be used for both farm work and as transportation. If you didn’t want to walk the five miles into town, a horse could save you time and a whole lot of effort, plus you could carry your goods in the saddlebags. They were also less temperamental than many other animals when it came to pulling carts, wagons, and carriages.
After gas-powered automobiles and tractors came along, the use of the horse changed considerably. Suddenly the animals that were used every day were no longer needed for work, and the idea of breeding horses just to increase their ability to pull a plow gave way to other purposes. Now that their plow-pulling abilities aren’t their main task (in most parts of the United States, anyway), we thought we’d take a look at the many uses that horses still have today.
There are few things more relaxing than trail riding on a horse. There’s the gentle swaying motion, the constant sound of the horse’s hooves, and the fact that you’re sharing an experience with a living, breathing animal instead of a car or bicycle.
Trail riding here in Lake Worth is one of the most popular options we offer, because it’s a great way to combine the fun of horseback riding with a new view of the area. Both locals and visitors alike enjoy seeing our fair city from a new vantage point; not only are they a few feet higher, but they’re also seeing new places in town they didn’t even know existed!
Companions and Pets
Without a doubt, some people view the horses as their friends and companions as much as they think of them as pets. Also, because of horses’ long history as workers (and their immense size), they certainly don’t fit the idea of “pet” like smaller animals do. But we feed them and take care of them (something you can learn during horseback riding lessons), so they most certainly are both companions and pets.
There are still those horses used for purposes that are antiquated but are still enjoyed on occasion. Take, for instance, horse-drawn carriage rides in Central Park, or the ones that you might see pulling a wagon at a pumpkin festival. Working ranches still use horses as well for the city slickers who want to be cowboys for a week.
There are also those horses that you’ll see in parades. Many times those horses are advertising for a local horse ranch, but other times you might see militarymen or parade marshalls riding them.
Have you ever been next to a Clydesdale? Amazing horses, truly. Of course, the primary reason that people know about them at all is from beer commercials, since the Budweiser Clydesdales have been pulling Budweiser wagons since 1933 to mark the end of prohibition. You’ll see them most often during Super Bowl ads every year.
Other horses are used by sports teams, often football teams. While most of the time the mascots are people dressed up in anthropomorphic horse costumes, some are live horses that represent teams. Osceola and Renegade are the official rider/horse mascots of the Florida State University Seminoles. The Denver Broncos have Thunder, who helps to start off every home game and runs during a touchdown. Thunder has been represented by three different white Arabian horses over the years.
Movies and TV
While horses can show up in just about any kind of recorded entertainment, they’re certainly most likely to show up in Westerns. The Western reached the peak of its popularity in the 1950s and 1960s with television shows like Gunsmoke, The Rifleman, and Maverick. Horses could also be found on television shows like Green Acres or Mr. Ed. Westerns were a staple of Hollywood movies as well, such as many Clint Eastwood and John Wayne films.
While Westerns aren’t nearly as popular as they once were, there will always be a need for horses in film and television. In fact, the HBO show Westworld uses quite a few horses and has been renewed for a second season starting up during Spring 2018. Another HBO favorite, Game of Thrones, has used dozens at a time.
Horse racing is one of the oldest sport in existence. All around the world horses are still bred for racing. Racing is big business, with some stallions selling for more than $50 million dollars.
The most well-known horse race in the United States, the Kentucky Derby, tends to have a purse of around $2 million, but worldwide it’s far from the biggest prize. Some Breeders Cup purses exceed it, as does the Dubai Duty Free Stakes ($5 million), the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe ($5,.4 million), and the Melbourne Cup ($5.6 million). Of course, it’s not just the amount of money that a horse can win that determines its value, but also how valuable it would be as a breeder.
Just about everyone enjoys a good rodeo. Even those from the city can’t help but marvel at the things they’re going to see there, whether it’s a greased pig chase or that country singer that had that one hit in 1989. Remember him? That was a good song.
Horses are, of course, a staple of rodeos. Whether it’s barrel racing or bull roping, horses have all sorts of fun taking their riders into the ring. If you want to see some horses in action, here are 10 of the top rodeos in the USA.
Of course, not every horse is going to be racing or show up in a movie. Some are show horses, those taken to county fairs and all the way up to international shows to show off both their looks and their abilities. There are many different types of events for horses, such as jumping, vaulting, dressage, driving, and more. If you’re interested in riding lessons, be sure to let us know if you’re also interested in showing your horse at a local event.
Isn’t it interesting that, while horses aren’t used for labor nearly as much as they used to be, they have a much more diverse set of uses than ever before. While they used to just be to pull a cart or to haul a rider, they now have all of those jobs that we mentioned above. Nearly every horse out there has a much easier (and more fun!) life than any horse from just a hundred years ago.
Here at Pink Flamingo Stables, we offer some great trail riding here in Lake Worth, as well as horse riding lessons for those who want to spend time with horses and learn how to ride. Interested in learning more? We’d love to talk to you, so contact us today.