What is the history of horseback riding?


Quick Answer

Though dates vary, it is estimated that the first people began riding horses between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago, possibly in the Kazakhstan region. Bit wear was discovered on a set of horse teeth dating back to that era on the steppes east of the Ural Mountains. Genetic studies have also supported this evidence. Before that, it is speculated that horses were hunted for their meat and skin.

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Full Answer

Evidence shows that horses were used for transportation outside their normal range not long after their domestication. It is unknown how well the first riders controlled their horses or if they controlled them at all. Early riders may have used horses to direct their livestock herds. Not long after horses became domesticated, they were used for various purposes including warfare, racing and tests of skills. As domestic horses and horseback riding spread throughout the world, various cultures added their own techniques, tack and other equipment to suit their horses' purposes.

The first evidence of saddles and stirrups appeared in China approximately 2,000 years ago and made it easier for warriors to stay in the saddle while using weapons such as arrows. Saddle and stirrup use, especially in warfare, quickly spread throughout Asia and Europe. Horseback riding first spread to the Americas when the Spanish brought their horses to aid in their explorations.

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