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Man's Best Friend: Is It The Horse?

Published: November 4, 2018 12:31 pm ET

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Was the modern world created with dog-power? One anthropologist intends no disrespect to the canine breed but he firmly believes that the horse deserves the title of "man's best friend".

Niobi Thompson explored the relationship between humans in horses in "Equus: Story of the Horse", a three-part series on CBC's The Nature of Things, a journey around the world and back in time to discover why horses and humans make perfect partners.

"Dogs entered our lives as a way to escape the challenges of a hunting life. It was easier, and safer, to scrounge for a meal at the edges of the campfire than to chase down reindeer and bison on the Ice Age plains," stated Thompson in a blog post for CBC. "Dogs became invaluable as hunting partners and for guarding our camps from threats, but it was their gift for affection that melted our hearts. Dogs colonized the human world: it is a parasitic relationship. They came to us, not the other way around.

"Thousands of years later, when the horse-human partnership began, we went to horses. Wild horses were powerful, fast and intelligent animals, and they certainly didn’t need us to survive," he continued " There was no shortage of grass on the Eurasian steppes. Yet somehow, they agreed to let us on their backs, and then to carry us at a speed we could never reach on our own two feet. When the world’s brainiest biped climbed up on the world’s greatest land-runner, history was made."

The three full episodes of CBC's The Nature of Things appear below.

Part 1: Humans built our world with horse power.

Part 2: A game-changer in human history — meet the first humans to ride the horse.

Part 3: Humans have shaped horses throughout history — but they've also shaped us.

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