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Horse and foal
The horse (Equus ferus caballus) is a hoofed (ungulate) mammal, a subspecies of one of seven extant species of the family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today. Humans began to domesticate horses around 4000 BC, and their domestication is believed to have been widespread by 3000 BC; by 2000 BC the use of domesticated horses had spread throughout the Eurasian continent. Although most horses today are domesticated, there are still populations of wild and feral horses. There are over 300 breeds of horses in the world today, developed for many different uses.

The horses anatomy enables them to make use of speed to escape predators and they have a well-developed sense of balance and a strong fight-or-flight instinct. Related to this need to flee from predators in the wild is an unusual trait: horses are able to sleep both standing up and lying down. Horses and humans interact in many ways, including a wide variety of sport competitions, non-competitive recreational pursuits and working activities. A wide variety of riding and driving techniques have been developed, using many different styles of equipment and methods of control. Many products are derived from horses, including meat, milk, hide, hair, bone, and pharmaceuticals extracted from the urine of pregnant mares.

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"Odin rides to Hel" (1908)
In Norse mythology, Sleipnir (Old Norse "slippy" or "the slipper" is an eight-legged horse. Sleipnir is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both sources, Sleipnir is Odin's steed, is the child of Loki and Svaðilfari, is described as the best of all horses, and is sometimes ridden to the location of Hel. The Prose Edda contains extended information regarding the circumstances of Sleipnir's birth, and details that he is gray in color.

Additionally, Sleipnir is mentioned in a riddle found in the 13th century legendary saga Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks, in the 13th century legendary saga Völsunga saga as the ancestor of the horse Grani, and book I of Gesta Danorum, written in the 12th century by Saxo Grammaticus, contains an episode considered by many scholars to involve Sleipnir. Sleipnir is generally accepted as depicted on two 8th century Gotlandic image stones; the Tjängvide image stone and the Ardre VIII image stone.

Scholarly theories have been proposed regarding Sleipnir's potential connection to shamanic practices among the Norse pagans. In modern times, Sleipnir appears in Icelandic folklore as the creator of Ásbyrgi, in works of art, literature, in the names of ships, and as the name of a web browser.

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The Icelandic horse is a breed of horse developed in Iceland. The breed develops late, but is long-lived and hardy. The Icelandic displays five gaits, rather than the typical three displayed by most other breeds. Horses living in their native Iceland have few diseases, and laws prevent animals from being imported to Iceland or returning to the country after they are exported. They are still used for traditional farm work in Iceland, as well as for leisure, showing and racing.

The breed was developed from ponies brought to Iceland by Viking settlers in the 9th and 10th centuries. Horses were worshipped in Norse mythology, and these beliefs were brought to Iceland by the original settlers. The Icelandic breed is mentioned in both literature and historical records throughout Icelandic history, from the 9th century on, with the first historical reference to an individual horse appearing in the 12th century. Selective breeding and natural selection have developed the breed into its current form. The first Icelandic breed society was created in 1904, and today the breed is represented by organizations in 19 different nations.

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Three chiefs Piegan p.39 horizontal.png
Credit: Cardozo, Christopher (2000). Sacred Legacy , 192pp, Simon and Schuster.

A 1900 photograph of three Piegan (Blackfeet) Indian chiefs. When Iberian horses were obtained from the Spanish, the Plains tribes rapidly integrated them into their daily lives. By the early 18th century some tribes had fully adopted a horse culture.


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