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The Age of the Horse: An Equine Journey Through Human History

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  151 ratings  ·  39 reviews
An essential book for anyone who’s ever been captivated by horses, The Age of the Horse is a breathtaking exploration of the connection between humans and Equus caballus. Equestrian expert Susanna Forrest presents a unique, sweeping panorama of the animal’s role in societies around the world and across time.

Fifty-six million years ago, the earliest equid walked the earth—a
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published May 2nd 2017 by Atlantic Monthly Press
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Jan 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 stars

Though this is clearly well researched, it is perhaps only one for the horse enthusiast. The author's choice to organise the book along thematic lines instead of as a linear history was a good one; it provided real focus and variety to the story, making it noticeably different from other offerings on this well-loved animal. Yet the writing style veered from rather exuberant to lecturing, making it a somewhat uneven read that often edged towards the 'i'm just going to put this book down
Anne Morgan
May 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
The Age of the Horse is not a history of the horse. It is, according to the introduction "a wander down six . . . ways in which we have used the horse, and the routes that ideas, people and horses took across an ever-changing territory." The six pathways Susanna Forrest takes us down include "Evolution", "Domestication", "Wildness", "Culture", "Power", "Meat", "Wealth", and "War". Within these six sections Forrest explore the entire range of equine-human interactions from warhorses to status sym ...more
Margaret Fisk
Jul 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Originally posted on Tales to Tide You Over

This book is a very difficult one to review, not because it has no value, but because it has too much. I have many pages of notes about interesting elements or things to mention, all of which would make this review far too long. I’ll mention the one weakness first so I can move on to all of the strengths: The author had a couple of places in the book where, rather than telling the narrative uncovered in person or through research, the actual research ea
Al Bità
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Following two brief chapters at the beginning covering the evolution and domestication of horses, Forrest identifies a selection of ways in which she will provide the reader with points of view concerning humanity’s interrelationship with horses globally. Of many ways in which she could have chosen, she opts for six “ages” through which the human/horse interrelationship and its contribution to history will be illustrated: Wildness, Culture, Power, Meat, Wealth and War.

Each of these sections cons
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm giving this book the benefit of the doubt, but it's probably more like 3.5 stars than 4. My biggest criticism was that it was uneven. Maybe that was just me and it would be same, in different places, with all readers. But while I absolutely loved the sections on the Wounded Warriors and the farmers who are returning to horse-powered farming, I found the sections on the ancient horses and the modern Chinese horse industry rather dull. I even found the section on horses as meat interesting, if ...more
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“We use the horse in more ways than any other animal: we ride on its back, attach it to wagons and ploughs, strap packs to it, drink its milk, eat its meat, go to war on it, cherish it as a pet and have turned it into a symbol of everything from wealth to political power, purity, lasciviousness and human suffering. In 5,500 years of domestication, humans have transformed horses’ bodies into everything from buttons to thrones.”

I love horses and I love history, so what was I not going to love abou
Whether you like a book depends just as much on you as it does on the book. There's an ideal audience out there for every book. The book may be abysmal for most other people, the ideal audience may be infinitesimal, but it exists. Popular books or "great" books are books for whom there is a large audience that either loves the book, respects the book, or both.

For me, this was a perfect book. I adored the writing. The information was fascinating, the kind of book that makes you look up at whoeve
January Gray
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Being a lover of horses, I found this to be an informative, entertaining and interesting book.
Susan Beecher
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fascinating and well-written non-fiction book about horses in history. I enjoyed it but it was LONG...
The Age of the Horse is a nonfiction work by Susanna Forrest. I found this book interesting and it is one of the best researched books I have read recently. However, it is very verbose. It was like reading a cross between a collection of stories, a PhD thesis and a text book. It made for a slow and arduous read. The publication date is May 2017; therefore, I know there will be more revisions. I can only hope that some serious editing will take place and the final product will have more readabili ...more
Nov 21, 2019 rated it liked it
The Age of the Horse meanders between different aspects of the relationship between horse and humans. Likewise, it is sometimes fascinating, and other times less so.

Forrests writing style is most engaging in the passages where she describes her own experiences, and the people and horses she has met while researching. However, her descriptions of the history surrounding this are often difficult to take in. Particularly in the first section, about Takhi horses, I found it easy to get lost amongst
Aug 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: animals
I did not enjoy this. Wasn't what I expected and read as a very dry, convoluted look at history of man, only slightly related to horses at times. ...more
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is not the typical history of the horse. It started as a dry, scholarly tome, written in the third person, but, unexpectedly, the author switches to first person in places and tells of her own experiences. So the information and education becomes personalized and more interesting. The horse's relationship with humans is told in broad themes: Evolution, Domestication, Wildness, Culture, Power, Meat, Wealth and War. Parts of the book were hard to read for this horse lover, but all worthwhile. ...more
A fascinating, lovely book - I'd say a sociology of human/equine connections through the eons, except that makes it sound too dull. Beautifully written and thoroughly researched, still it's unlike any book about horses I've ever read (and I've read a library-full!). Parts of it will make you angry (the kill auctions, the uses in war), but it does explore these essential parts of our complex relationships with this most useful and beautiful and wonderful animal. Highly recommended for horse lover ...more
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Parts of this book are fascinating and parts seem to be a bit random. I really loved aspects of it, but it’s a bit like 6 different books stuck together. I’ll read one part and really love it and then the next section will be 30 pages of a totally different subject that I’m not as interested with. I can’t really fault the author for that, the history of the horse is a really huge subject, but it was frustrating. I’d give 3 stars for some sections and 4 for others. If you love horses though, it’s ...more
Jan 27, 2021 rated it it was ok
I had fairly high hopes for this book. Some things were really good, but the depth of information was not enough (first two chapters).

However, many things were just unacceptable - changes of perspective from general history to some random memoirs from trips and last chapter was supposed to be about war. Well, it kind of was, but more about therapy of PTSD patients.

Another thing was posing a horse as a reasonable and ecological alternative to coal and oil. It seems ridiculous, as despite produc
Kilian Metcalf
It is difficult to review this book. It would be easier if it were a rant or a rave. Instead it's just 'meh.' The author looks at six uses of the horse from the dancing horses of the haute ecole to the draft horses that are making a comeback in agriculture. There is no unifying thesis to bind these disparete articles into a whole. Instead they read like magazine articles published at various times.

If you know a young person who is horse mad and not very critical, this book might make a nice gift
Jo-anne Atkinson
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Throughout history the development of man has been intertwined with that of the horse. In this book Susanna Forrest looks at different aspects of that relationship, from the beauty of the equine ballet to the way society deals with horses injured or beyond work, from the preservation of the wild horses of Mongolia to the role of the horse in newly affluent China. This is a love story to the animal and the writing shows both passion and knowledge. However it does not really hang together as a com ...more
Sarah Foster
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
I absolutely loved this book, but may be it’s niche target audience, of archaeologist and equestrian. It does not read like a traditional history book, and is archaic in it’s chronological and geographical organisation. It focuses on a handful of case studies of interactions between culture and horse. It is jammed with interesting facts and stories and there was much to learn, despite my lifelong obsession with all things equine, which was a little surprising!
Beautifully laid out and though pro
Mari Sasano
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There's a lot of writing about horses' relationship to humans, but I learned so much from this book! It's detailed, in-depth (I find most human-horse histories to gloss over so much) and beautifully written. The narratives answer the question, "how did we get here?" with respect to what horses mean in our lives now, not just running down the list from Lascaux to show jumping. It discusses how humans used them and how they were a part of our lives. The section on the development of dressage was p ...more
R Cloake
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating insight into the history of human interaction with horses. There are some brilliant facts hidden in here. Unfortunately, the author's writing style tends to lean towards listing things in long run-on sentences which can make parts of it less easy to understand than necessary. With a bit of editing, it could be an excellent book, but as it is, the rating is more for the idea and the content that is hidden in amongst the dense paragraphs than for the presentation. ...more
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thouroughly enjoyed this book and was very moved by it. So well written that, from Chapter One, it manages to bring out the intringue and adventure in the otherwise tragic story of the first horses' wild descendants. The author connects the past and present of people's relationship with horses in exciting and insightful ways. Highly recommend it whether you are a horse lover, a history buff or neither. ...more
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Detailing the history, present and future of the animal that has served man the most through centuries, Forrest weaves an epic read about the Equus ferus caballus. A befitting and worthy tribute to the horse with amusing facts. well researched. Definitely a must read for all horse lovers and information sponges.
Batool AK
Mar 30, 2020 rated it liked it
I honestly found the writing style to be tiring, and I felt as though the horses were pushed to the background to make way for all the humans and what they had to say. I was going to give the book two stars, but because the good parts contained valuable points (especially when she discusses the dominance theory and feral vs domesticated horse behavior) I bumped the rating up to 3 stars.
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fascinating look at the prehistory, history and development of modern horses. Horse lovers will love reading this book. It's very well researched and contains lots of interesting info. I can't believe anyone ever viewed horses as food.... ...more
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, horses
I enjoyed this book and learned a lot of interesting things, but it fails to hold together as a whole. The chapters are interesting, but they don't seem to related to one another. I don't think the author proved her thesis and pretty much admits it at the end. Still worth reading. ...more
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book about a great animal! Interesting historical details and stories!
Leiki Fae
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very much enjoyed this read. Lots of info about my favorite animal, written by someone who obviously loves horses, and also forays into history, global warming, animal welfare, evolution, etc.
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fun book that dives deep into the history of the horse, you need to be into a horse to make it through but very informative if you are.
Jo Bullen
Nov 26, 2019 rated it liked it
I struggle with all non fiction so I did find this tough going in places. There was some interesting sections on how horses have been integral to human civilisation.
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Horses are an incredible key to exploring history and culture, not least because humans seem to be so confused about them. Do we eat them or cherish them? Improve them or ruin them? Celebrate or use them? These are the kinds of issues I explore in my books.

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