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Are Horses Native to America?

Are Horses Native to America

When looking at the history of America, you’ll see that horses were supposedly the prime focus of their folklore and culture. It is inevitable to say that the preference for horses was closely linked to the – cowboys, pioneers of the old and the freedom struggle.

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It won’t be wrong to say that most wild horses are native to the land of America and its surrounding. In order to say the least, horses are majestic creatures on earth. They have been an integral part of human civilization for thousands of years. More so, many people think horses are native to America, but that is really true! Well, here we will discuss on the same ground and if there’s any dissimilarity in people’s opinions.

Horses and their Existence in America

Many people assume that horses are native to America, but the truth is more complicated. More so, we will explore the history of horses in America and the various theories about their origins.

To understand whether horses are native to America, you first need to be clear about the term “native.” In general, a species is a considerable native to a particular region if it has stayed in that surrounding for several years. Now, here is the thing; they must be naturally occurring and without any involvement of human intervention.

It further states that not all horses were already present in America. But, in several other parts of the world, horses were huge in number – like in Europe and the Middle East. So, accordingly, one cannot say that horses are native to America.

History of Horses in America

The ancestors of modern horses in North America were present around 55 million years ago. But back then, these early horses were much smaller than the horses we know today. They eventually died in North America around 10,000 years ago. Mainly due to climate change and hunting by early humans in that period.

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It was in the 15th century that horses were reintroduced to America. History says the Spanish explorers brought them over on ships for their beneficial uses. More so, these horses were more extensive and stronger than the earlier North American horses. So, they quickly became an essential part of Native American culture and different horseback riding activities.

Over time, horses spread across the continent for their significant role in developing the American West. Basically, they were quite helpful for transportation, work, and warfare. Furthermore, they became remarkably famous as a symbol of freedom and independence.

Statistics of Horses in America

There are many approaches and research that talk about the statistics of Horses in America. Here are some of the true facts on the contrary grounds of horses being native to America –

  1. In 1912, only Russia and the United States had the most horses in the world.
  2. There were a maximum number of 20 million horses in March 1915 in the United States.
  3. In 2005, almost 9 million horses in the United States were highly indulged in the game of horseback riding.

There was a continuous decline and rise in horse breeding in the United States. It was mainly due to the war times back in the 1950s, but after that, everything came back to normal.

Importance of Horses in America

Despite their importance to American culture, horses are not primarily native to America. This suggests that various explorers from across the globe came with their horses from their particular areas. However, there is some evidence to explain that horses may have actually evolved in America before migrating to other parts of the world.

See also: American Saddlebred Horse Breed

Here are some of the important events that you may read –

The first theory proposed by biologist Ross MacPhee in 1999 suggests that horses may have evolved in North America. They likely migrated across the Bering land bridge to Asia and other parts of the world.

Here, the theory states the genetic evidence that suggests North America has the oldest and most diverse wild horse populations. Moreover, they are not from Asia, where the other researchers likely state their proof to be real.


Though there are different theories on horses being native to America, it’s still controversial and not widely in acceptance. More so, it highlights the complex and fascinating history of horses in America.

So, whether they are considered native to America or not, there is enough space for them to fill in. Furthermore, horses have played a vital role in American history and continue to captivate us with their beauty and power.

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