Tag Archives: horses

An Excellent Science Oriented Book About Horses: The Horse, a Natural History by Busby and Rutland

How much do you know about the natural history of the horse? Not enough, I’ll wager, considering that the horse is a key, central element to much (but not all) of human history. The evolutionary story is classic, and central to much interesting conversation. The spread of the modern species across the globe, its domestication and eventual diversification through breeding are fascinating stories.

Consider The Horse: A Natural History by Debbie Busby and Catrin Rutland*. Most books about horses are about how to take care of your horse, or how to learn to ride your horse, or some other thing about your horse. This book is about the horses themselves, about their biology, behavior, and history.

This volume is loaded with excellent illustrations including graphs, charts, and photos. If you leave it on your coffee table, people will pick it up and thumb through it, and be glad they did, once you start letting people into your house.

This is the best horse book out there currently, and is a perfect holiday gift for your horse loving relative who, once they recieve it, will surely not look it in the mouth.

Debbie Busby has degrees in applied animal behavior and welfare and psychology, specializing in horses, and is certified by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Catrin Rutland is associate professor of anatomy and developmental genetics at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Nottingham, UK, and writes for a number of outlets including the Telegraph and the Guardian.

The Horses Of The World: Don’t say Neigh to this great book.

Over the years, the field guide and the coffee table book have merged, and we now have coffee table-ish books (but serious books) that include a species description of every critter in a certain clade. In the case of Horses of the World by Γ‰lise Rousseau (Author), Yann Le Bris (Illustrator), Teresa Lavender Fagan (Translator), while every living species of horse is in fact covered, the book is a comprehensive guide to breeds of horses.

Of which there are 570.

A horse is horse, of course, but but is a donkey or an ass? What about zebras?

Horse people are very picky about what they call a horse. It is generally thought that there are onlly three living or recent species of horse. The Prewalski’s horse (Equus ferus prezewalski), which lives in Asia, the tarpan (Equus ferus ferus) which is the European version of this animal, and went extinct when the last zoo inmate of this species died in 1909, and the modern horse, Equus ferus caballus. But if you think of a horse as a member of the genus Equus, there are more, including the donkey/ass and three species of zebra, the Kiang (a Tibetan ass), and another Asian ass called the Onager. And, since when speaking of horses, the extinct European wild horse is generally mentioned, we will add the Quagga, the half horse-half zebra (in appearance) African equid that went extinct in 1984 (having disappeared from the wild in 1883).

Since “horses” (as in Mr. Ed and friends) and Zebras can interbreed successfully, and some of these other forms can as well to varying degrees, we need to think of Equus as a close knit genus and not be exclusionary in disregarding the Zebra and Donkey.

Anyway, that is not what this book is about. As noted, there are some 570 or possibly more varieties of horse (no two experts will likely agree on that number) and Horses of the World covers them all. There is introductory material about horses, breeds, how we tell them apart, conservation status, etc. Each horse breed is then given one half of a page on each of two folios, so you see overleaf some illustrated text on one side, and a fuller and very official illustration on the other, for most breeds, with some variation.

This is one of the few books that comes with a movie, compete with some rather galloping music:

Γ‰lise Rousseau is the author of numerous books on horses. Illustrator Yann Le Bris has illustrated numerous books.

Elephants and Horses

In 1833, Darwin spent a fair amount of time on the East Coast of South America, including in the Pampas, where he had access to abundant fossil material. Here I’d like to examine his writings about some of the megafauna, including Toxodon, Mastodon, and horses, and his further considerations of biogeography and evolution.

Continue reading Elephants and Horses