Horses have been domesticated by mankind for thousands of years, with evidence showing that they were first domesticated around 6,000 years ago by tribes in the Steppes region of North Kazakhstan. These horses were used in battle, and helped strike fear in the tribes’ enemies as they were able to mount devastating fast and mobile attacks. Their use in battle spread throughout the world, and horses became a common sight on many battlefields in traditional warfare. Even now, horses are used by militaries around the world, albeit largely for tradition and pageantry purposes.
Horses have not only been useful to mankind for war, however. They have also been domesticated for use in a variety of other roles. Their size and strength makes them suitable for draft work such as pulling wagons and farming equipment. Many ranches still use horses today as they are ideal for herding cattle. They are also often used in sports, and they have even been bred for their meat.
As breeders chose horses with certain characteristics for breeding, selective breeding emphasized particular traits in their offspring. This caused different breeds to arise and some horses can really be quite different from others, with different breeds having particular specialties. Here’s a look at the top 10 breeds you will find in the world today.
Popular Horse Breeds #10: Shire Horse
Among the largest and tallest horse breeds in the world, the shire horse is an impressive beast. Its lineage can be traced back to mid-17th century when its size and strength made it a favorite in battle. The English continued to use the breed as a war horse until smaller, faster breeds were favored.
The shire horse’s size and strength helped to maintain its popularity, though, as it was put to work as a draft horse. The breed became synonymous with brewers in the country as it was the go-to breed for pulling their drays. Despite its large size, the shire horse is known for its gentle temperament and is great around kids.
Since mechanization, the demand for the shire horse has all but disappeared. The breed still lives on though, albeit in fewer numbers. Shire horses today are often seen pulling carriages for wedding parties and tourists, and their regal stature makes them a real attraction.