What makes a winning racehorse? How intelligent are horses? What are horses trying to tell us when they stamp their hooves and snort? Do horses talk to each other?
The horse, long a symbol of beauty and athletic prowess, has made and lost fortunes and transformed human history and culture, and yet has retained mysteries that baffle even those who work with them every day. There has recently been an explosion of scientific research on the horse. In this book Stephen Budiansky brings the insights of modern science to a wider audience of horse enthusiasts and animal-lovers.
Throughout its 6000 years of domesti-cation, the horse has been viewed--not always to its benefit--through the distorting lens of human perception. "I would argue that at this late date in the shared history of man and horse," says Budiansky (Covenant of the Wild; Nature's Keepers: The New Science of Nature Management), "it is only the objective tools of science that can sort out what millenniums of tradition, lore, and wishful thinking have sometimes muddled." To do that sorting, he uses the tools of a wide range of scientific disciplines, from archaeology to neurophysiology, to biomechanics. Along the way, he debunks long-held misconceptions about the familiar equine, which, he points out, would probably died out early in the Old World (as it did in the New) if it had not been domesticated by early dwellers of the Ukraine. However romantic the lore that Budiansky disproves (the feral horses of Assateague are not, in fact, descendents of castaways from Spanish galleons), the rigorously researched facts and keen observations that he replaces them with are equally enthralling. Many graphs and line drawings illustrate such topics as equine intelligence and gaits. Whether a "horse person" or a generalist with an interest in natural history, the reader is sure to learn much from this intelligent, stimulating treatise. Photos not seen by PW.