The Evolution of Horses: From Battlefields to Gentle Giants

Mason Riverwind

Updated Tuesday, November 21, 2023 at 12:00 AM CDT

Horses have long captivated the hearts of humans, not just as majestic creatures but as loyal companions through the ages. From their storied past on the warfront to their current status as beloved animals often likened to "giant dogs," the role of horses in human history is as fascinating as it is varied.

Historically, horses were not only seen as peculiar and awe-inspiring but also played critical roles in warfare. They were the engines of war, carrying knights and soldiers into battle. For many, the image of a dragoon—a soldier who would ride on horseback for mobility but dismount for combat—is a striking representation of the versatility and importance of horses in military strategies. This was especially true in the early days of World War I, where horses were a common sight on the battlefield, though their presence would dwindle as mechanization took over.

The reliance on horses was not just a feature of the distant past. Remarkably, there were instances even in the early 21st century where horses were used in military operations, such as the horse-mounted cavalry charges led by special forces and Northern Alliance soldiers during the capture of Mazar-i-Sharif in 2001. This serves as a testament to the enduring utility of these animals in varied terrains and situations.

Yet, the role of horses has evolved dramatically over time. A striking revelation highlighted in a documentary series on Nebula by Real Engineering discusses the logistics of D-Day and the subsequent retaking of Europe. It was revealed that the German High Command was caught off guard by the Allies' complete omission of horses in their logistics train, despite the German army's continued dependence on them for mass transport.

In contemporary times, the perception of horses has shifted significantly. No longer the war machines of the past, they are now seen as gentle, affectionate creatures, often likened to "big softies" and compared to "giant dogs" for their friendly and playful demeanor. The bond between horses and humans is a unique one, with each species seemingly holding a mutual fascination and affection for the other.

The endearing nature of horses is further emphasized by the universal love for "scritches" or affectionate scratches, a sentiment shared by both humans and their equine friends. This simple act of giving and receiving affection encapsulates the deep, emotional connection that has developed between horses and people over centuries.

In conclusion, the transformation of horses from war heroes to gentle giants is a remarkable journey that underscores their adaptability and the shifting dynamics of their relationship with humans. As we continue to cherish these "giant dogs," it's important to remember and honor their rich history and the diverse roles they have played in shaping human civilization. Whether as companions in battle or in leisure, horses continue to gallop through the pages of history, leaving an indelible hoofprint on the hearts of those who adore them.

Noticed an error or an aspect of this article that requires correction? Please provide the article link and reach out to us. We appreciate your feedback and will address the issue promptly.

View source: Imgur

Top Comments from Imgur


I mean, the police still ride them into what they imagine is a battle lol.


It's not like they weren't weird as f*** back then too. They were just also war horses or farm horses etc.


AFAIK my great grandfather was the last of the family to ride a horse to battle. Note I say to, rather than into, he was a dragoon. Horses for mobility, but fight on foot. Early WWI, I believe they lost the horses in the first year and became mechanised for the last 2 years of the war (got trucks)




Cool documentary series on Nebula by Real Engineering about the logistics of D-Day and the retaking of Europe. He makes the claim that one of the biggest surprises for the German High Command was that the Allies landed with no horses at all in their logistics train. The German army, even with its leading technology tanks, still depended on horses for mass transport.


"A giant dog? And it's also a car? I dunno, man, that seems implausible"


In October & November of 2001 US special forces & Northern Alliance soldiers lead horse mounted cavalry charges in the of the capture of Mazar-i-sharif


Horses are big softies:)


Horses think the same about us: "these dozy f****** nutbars used to ride us into battle."


What's wrong with scritches? Everyone loves scritches!

Check out our latest stories