200 years ago the Heavy Draft Horses were everyman’s tractor, truck and bus. They still have the power to touch everyman’s heart.
The advent of the internal combustion engine led directly to the slaughter of these fabulous animals that transported humans and their goods around for over a thousand years. The heavy horse changed the world and the way people looked at it; beginning with the Romans. The Romans used them to pull their heavy catapults and siege towers along. In Medieval times the heavy horse; fully armored, carrying a fully armored and armed knight put against lightly armored cavalry on their much smaller horses had the same effect as putting a tank in amongst lightly armored vehicles. The horses were a lot prettier than a tank though.
Since then the heavy horse has been revered and used by people in every walk of life you can think of. The industrial revolution would not have happened without the heavy horse. The heavy horse pulled loads, coaches, busses, ploughs where power was needed the horse came to the fore, and hence the phrase ‘horse power’ by which the output of the internal combustion engine, which replaced the horse, was and still is, measured.
If you have the time you can teach a horse about 450 commands; a dog 50 and an ox 8. One only has to watch the Lipizzaner dance to realize just how intelligent they are. The heavy horse has a much bigger brain than a Lipizzaner and a quiet, thoughtful intelligence which shines in them.
Hundreds of thousands of heavy draft horses all over the world were slaughtered when they were no longer needed and replaced by the truck and tractor. If we pause to think about it, it is a worse blunder than killing any wild animal. These were highly intelligent creatures that served us unselfishly and we repaid them with slaughter.
Their survival is more important to our collective consciousness than we realize. They are our last link to a world that depended on horse power and not machines to feed people. When we lose them we are in danger of losing our humanity and becoming machines like the ones we use.