March 9, 2023 | David F. Coppedge

Horsemanship Began Recently

Evolutionists claim that intelligent humans existed a million years ago
but only learned to ride a horse a few thousand years ago. Credible?


At CEH, we have often pointed out an obvious weakness in the evolutionary story of early man. If intelligent members of our genus Homo existed a million or more years ago, why did civilization pop into existence recently? What took them so long to invent the wheel? Why didn’t anyone plant a farm or raise livestock? And why didn’t anybody try to ride a horse in all that time?

Example of animal art in Chauvet Cave, France. Some say it rivals Cezanne’s paintings.

Remember, what the Darwinians classify into less-evolved “races” or species of men (Homo erectus, Handy Man, Heidelberg Man, Neanderthal Man, and the lot) were not dummies. Their brain capacity was comparable to ours, and sometimes exceeded that of modern humans. Assuming evolutionists’ own dates and stories, it is clear that human ancestors migrated long distances across continents. They had mastered controlled use of fire, and built increasingly sophisticated tools. They hunted large prey like mammoths, and knew their local wildlife very well, as indicated in their art. There’s evidence that Homo erectus crossed seas in boats. The “modern humans” that supposedly “emerged” about 50,000 Darwin Years ago created sophisticated art deep in caves that astonishes people today.

What took so long, then, for these gifted, upright-walking, big-brained people to try hopping on a horse? Did none of them think about that for nearly a million years? Didn’t any of them consider it might save them a lot of time getting around? Were there no Neanderthal teens daring one another like, ‘Betcha I can hop on that horse!’ ‘Betcha can’t! ‘Oh yeah?’ ‘Watch me!’ What young, virile teen is going to stay content hunting and gathering year after year after year, shivering in a cold cave with the same-ol’, same-ol’ routine?

The conundrum can be illustrated on the timeline below. The period before horsemanship first appeared is many times the length of recorded history. From just 6,000 years ago, human beings went from crude huts to spaceships, explored all the planets, built steam engines and railroads and computers, designed monumental cathedrals and skyscrapers, and figured out how to fly the friendly skies in comfort, eating gourmet food warmed up in a microwave oven. Look at the sliver of time recorded history represents at the far right end of the diagram. Does the evolutionary timeline make any sense?

Note: We use BC in the usual sense of “Before Christ” instead of the obfuscating term BCE “Before Common Era,” because when did the so-called “Common Era” begin? At the birth of Christ! The use of “BCE” may make academics sound more sophisticated and secular, but there is no question that 1 AD was a turning point in human history.

The Darwinists’ human evolution timeline. The small red rectangle at right represents all of recorded history (2700 BC to the present), about one tenth of one percent of the supposed one million years Homo has existed.

The timeline above is even more extreme than shown. Some evolutionists think Homo erectus dates to nearly two million years BC, and that they were capable of crossing seas with boats, hunting with advanced tools and cooking their food. The Laetoli footprints, made by modern-looking human feet, are dated back to 3.7 million years BC: nearly four times the entire timeline!

This is why accurate timelines like this are rarely shown, because the period we can accurately date with inscriptions and can corroborate with celestial events like eclipses, clearly represents only a tiny, tiny fraction of this mythical grand scale of human evolution. Were highly intelligent, upright-walking, tool-making, distance-migrating, artistically-gifted, game-hunting human beings really too stupid and lazy to learn how to ride a horse, plant crops or build permanent dwellings until just a few thousand years ago? What random mutation could have caused the explosive appearance of civilization?

Horseback riding is as old as civilization (photo by DFC)

Get a Horse

A new research project looked for the earliest evidence of horsemanship. The scientists could not find any evidence earlier than about 3,000 BC.

First bioanthropological evidence for Yamnaya horsemanship (Trautmann et al., Science Advances, 3 March 2023).

The origins of horseback riding remain elusive. Scientific studies show that horses were kept for their milk ~3500 to 3000 BCE, widely accepted as indicating domestication. However, this does not confirm them to be ridden. Equipment used by early riders is rarely preserved, and the reliability of equine dental and mandibular pathologies remains contested. However, horsemanship has two interacting components: the horse as mount and the human as rider. Alterations associated with riding in human skeletons therefore possibly provide the best source of information. Here, we report five Yamnaya individuals well-dated to 3021 to 2501 calibrated BCE from kurgans in Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary, displaying changes in bone morphology and distinct pathologies associated with horseback riding. These are the oldest humans identified as riders so far.

The identity of Yamnayans (modern humans in what is now eastern Europe) is not the important thing here: the dates are. Apparently these 21 researchers looked for bow-legged skeletons and other hints of individuals having ridden horses. They also looked into the mouths of horses to find evidence their molars might have been modified by bits or bridles. They examined all the known depictions of horse riding in pictographs, petroglyphs and artifacts. The earliest date they were able to calculate was that horseback riding started around 3,000 BC.

Together, our findings provide a strong argument that horseback riding was already a common activity for some Yamnaya individuals as early as ~3000 cal BCE. This supports other tentative third millennium BCE evidence of an early onset of equines as mounts.

Theory Rescue

The authors, apparently aware that this late date looks ridiculously recent for intelligent members of the human race who were around (in their view) for hundreds of thousands or millions of years, tried to make some excuses. Let’s think about them:

1. Early horses were “probably hard to handle.” This is absurd. Have they ever watched rodeos? Big-brained Homo sapiens able to hunt and kill mammoths could surely have used their wits and courage to capture and break wild horses.

2. Early horses were “highly strung and excitable.” This is similarly absurd. Many horses today are high-strung and excitable. I’ve ridden some like that. What fearless Neanderthal or modern human 200,000 years ago wouldn’t have relished the challenge of showing off his bravery and skill to hop on a wild horse and make it obey him? For all of the recorded history, man has mastered the horse.

3. It took a long time for humans to breed the “anxiety/fear response” out of the wild horses in the Caspian steppes. Well, did it take a million years for them to do it? Evolutionists are severely disrespecting the capabilities of their ancestors. Think how easy it would have been for intelligent, clever Homo sapiens to build corrals or pens, use teamwork to trap and gather horses, select the gentlest ones, and breed them into obedient riding stock? How long would that take? A century, or a few decades perhaps, would have been sufficient.

4. It was too uncomfortable for humans to ride horses without saddles and tack. Oh come now. I learned from my dad how to ride a horse bareback with a piece of clothesline rope for a bridle. Evolutionists need to stop discounting the intelligence and creativity of early humans. They’re probably picturing some naked ape-man shouting “Ouch!” as his steed trots under him, and deciding not to try that again for a million years.

5. A press release from the University of Helsinki about the research indicates that horse riding may have begun a millennium earlier, based on one skeleton found in modern Hungary dated 4300 BC, but as the authors say, an “isolated case cannot support a firm conclusion.” Even so, that date hardly makes a difference in the million-year timeline.

The uncomfortable truth remains: to be an evolutionist, one must imagine highly intelligent people like us living in caves for a million or more years—possibly two or three million—and never learning to ride a horse until a little over 5,000 years ago. See also our 27 Feb 2017 article critiquing excuses by an evolutionist for why civilization was so late in coming.

Humans have long bred horses for their needs, from massive Clydesdales to miniature Shetland ponies. (Photo by DFC)

The more you think about it, the crazier the evolutionary story sounds. Look at horsemanship today: men and women, boys and girls, love to ride and compete. Rodeo champions will stay on a bucking bronco or highly-strung steer for as long as possible and live to do it again and again as their fans cheer. Humans breed and perfect the best horses, from Shetland ponies to Clydesdales, and have mastered equine medicine to care for them. Experts train horses to do tricks, walk with multiple gaits, run steeplechase races, carry wagons and plows, and perform for big crowds. The history of mounted cavalry and the courage of horse riders in battle is legendary. Horsemanship is a prized skill for people in almost all cultures in the world.

But evolutionists say it was too hard for our ancestors to think of this. They could not master it for millions of years. It’s past time to call Darwinians out for telling fictional myths about horses. They wouldn’t get away with it for a minute if they didn’t maintain an iron grip on their totalitarian dictatorship in Big Science, or if they had to face clear-thinking people with horse sense. They really should get out more, talk to ranchers, and watch humans perform in rodeos.

The joy of horsemanship is hard to describe unless you have ridden one in the wilderness. Look at how contented and happy the horses look, too. Photo by DFC.

Horses are a gift of God to man. We love them, and they respond with gentleness and obedience when we treat them right. The Biblical view of horses and people, and the recent creation timeline, makes perfect sense of the evidence. We don’t need no stinkin’ millions of years. God created us with the ability to work with animals and use our fellow creatures for our benefit and for his glory from the beginning. After creation and again after the Flood, it wasn’t long before people were enjoying horsemanship and creating a legendary history of partnership with these magnificent animals: chariot racing, polo, fox hunting, cavalry, horse racing, rodeos, horse therapy for those with anxiety or depression, stewardship, pack trains into the mountains, barrel racing, dressage, Olympic events and so much more. The horses seem to enjoy it when they are treated with respect and well cared for. Get a horse, and thank the Lord for all they have done for us in human history. They enjoy hugs, too.

19 “Do you give the horse his might?
Do you clothe his neck with a mane?
20 Do you make him leap like the locust?
His majestic snorting is terrifying.
21 He paws in the valley and exults in his strength;
he goes out to meet the weapons.
22 He laughs at fear and is not dismayed;
he does not turn back from the sword.
23 Upon him rattle the quiver,
the flashing spear, and the javelin.
24 With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground;
he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet.
25 When the trumpet sounds, he says ‘Aha!’
He smells the battle from afar,
the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.

Job 38:19-25, when God amazes Job with the design of the horse he created. Job was possibly the earliest Biblical writer, living at the time of Abraham or before. Clearly horsemanship had been well established long before his time.


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