Domesticating Horses

Part of the Horse exhibition.

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. Horses have been domesticated for a very long time--perhaps more than 5,000 years.

Prehistoric remains show that at the end of the Ice Age, some 10,000 years ago, wild horses died out in the Americas and dwindled in western Europe, for reasons that are not clear. But they thrived on the steppes of eastern Europe and Central Asia, where short grasses and shrubs grow on vast, dry stretches of land. Most scholars believe it was here that people domesticated the horse, forming a bond that has endured to the present day.