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The sound is unmistakable: the thundering hooves of a running horse. Horses have been racing across the landscape for more than 50 million years—much longer than our own species has existed. But once horses and humans encountered each other, our two species became powerfully linked.

Humans domesticated horses some 6,000 years ago, and over time, we have created more than 200 breeds, from the powerful Clydesdale to the graceful Arabian. As we have shaped horses to suit our needs on battlefields, farms, and elsewhere, these animals have shaped human history. They have also captured our imagination and hearts. Millions of people rely on horses as their spirited, dedicated, much adored companions.

Exhibition Highlights



The Evolution of Horses

Imagine a world in which horses of all colors, shapes, and sizes roamed the world, some barely larger than a small dog.


Horses and Hunters

How did the relationship between horses and people begin? No one knows precisely, but prehistoric evidence from western Europe tells part of the story.


Domesticating Horses

Today, very few horses are found in the wild--the great majority live among people. We feed and shelter horses, put them to work, and control their breeding.



The Nature of Horses

No other animal can match the contributions that horses have made to human civilization.



How We Shaped Horses, How Horses Shaped Us

The close relationship between horses and humans has changed us both. People have remade horses, creating dozens of breeds in our efforts to make horses faster, stronger, bigger, or smaller.


An Enduring Bond

Horses no longer carry soldiers into battle or pull plows and stagecoaches as they once did. But our long relationship with these majestic animals has not ended.



As the toys in this case show, horses are deeply woven into the way we think about ourselves and our world.



Meet the Curators

Ross MacPhee is the former chairman of the Department of Mammalogy at the American Museum of Natural History, where he has been Curator since 1988.


Horse Resources

Explore the free resources below to learn more about the topics in The Horse before and after your visit.


Fast Facts

The English-speaking world measures the height of horses in hands, abbreviated "h" or "hh"; one hand is equivalent to 4 inches.


Article, Video


Find out how special adaptations to the horse's legs, digestive system, vision, and hearing give the horse its unique qualities as a partner for humans.



The Horse is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York, in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, United Arab Emirates; the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau-Ottawa; The Field Museum, Chicago; and the San Diego Natural History Museum.



Seven life-size fiberglass horses, each over 6 feet tall, were delivered to the American Museum of Natural History from the Saratoga County Arts Council in upstate New York

The Horse was made possible, in part, by the generosity of Rosalind P. Walter.


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