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The Reluctant Rider

             Why the Chinese developed horseback riding late.
             Look back at man's struggle for freedom.
             Trace our present day's strength to its source,.
             And you'll find that man's pathway to glory.
             Is strewn with the bones of a horse. .
             Wherever man has left his footprints in the long ascent from .
             barbarism to civilization, we will find the hoofprint of a horse beside it.
             -John Trotwood Moore-.
             Ancient civilizations of the world have all made important progressions related to their use of the horse. The ancient Chinese appear to have been significantly more advanced in a wide range of areas than their contemporaries in other nearby countries. Why, then, did the development of horseback riding occur so much later than in some less sophisticated societies? There are several answers for this question, relating to China's politics, culture, and geography. The Chinese sedentary lifestyle did not demand horseback riding the way the Mongolians" did. They acquired and domesticated horses much later and did not develop the same reverence for horses that the northern people had. The Chinese avoided contact with the Mongolians, from whom they would eventually learn horsemanship skills much more effective than their own. The Chinese took to horseback riding slowly, but once it caught on it became an integral part of their lives and the Chinese became some of the world's most accomplished horsemen.
             Domestication of horses seems to have started in the Ukrainian steppes around 5000 BC and slowly moved south, east, and west from there. The primitive, nomadic man of the steppe hunted horses for meat, which lead to them following herds and eventually keeping horses. Horses served not only as livestock, but the docile ones could be used as pack animals as well. The Mongols kept herds of sheep, goats, and other livestock. Keeping these animals together and moving them at any significant speed is much more easily done from horseback.

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