The horse is a well known domestic animal allied to the wild ass, the zebra, and the quagga. The ancestor of our horse is not known, but it was probably a native of Cen­tral Asia where two species of swift, alert wild asses still exist. All these species are included in the scientific name equus, from which we have equine and equestrian. The horse, taken in this sense, is the only ani­mal that steps on one toe. Its hoofs correspond to the nails of a person's middle toe and finger. The side toes have disappeared or are reduced to small, sliver-like bones, called splints. The use of one toe is regarded as advantageous on smooth, level land like the plains in which the horse naturally lives.
   The petrified bones of prehistoric horses have been found in the more recent geologic formations of every continent except Aus­tralia. The evolution of the foot of the horse may be traced in these remains. In the specimens from the earlier rocks the front foot has four toes and the rudiment of a fifth; the hind foot has three toes and the rudiment of a fourth. In later fossils these rudiments disappear, leaving four and three complete toes. The next well-marked stage is that of three toes on each foot, the middle toe being larger and longer than the other two; then follow in regular series feet with the side toes just touching the ground, and side toes not touching the ground; then side toes, smaller and smaller until we reach the modern horse with but one toe. In this connection it may be remembered that the foot of the ox has two toes on the ground and two short side toes hanging useless.
   Some of these fossil horses were no larger than a rabbit, others were of the size of a gazelle. Both South and North Ameri­ca are rich in fossil horses. They have been found in South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Nebraska, Arizona, Kansas, and in the Bad Lands generally; but for some reason American horses became extinct. Our modern horses are all from the Old World. The wild horses of South America and the West are the descendants of horses brought over by the Spanish explorers and the conquerors of Mexico. On his second voyage Columbus brought horses to the West Indies. In 1527 the first horses in what is now the United States landed in Florida. In 1604 French horses were introduced in Acadia. In 1609 English horses were landed at Jamestown. In Í623 Dutch horses were brought to New Amsterdain, New York. The New England colonists introduced horses in 1629.
   Among the European breeds to which America is indebted are the Arabian and the Barb for the agile riding horses of the South. The shaggy, tough French Canadian horse is descended from the French Norman of an ancient type, to which we are also under obligations for the magnificent dapple gray draft horse of the present time. The Clydesdale draft horse, a large bay with shaggy fetlocks, is well known in this country. Local strains well known for their merits are the Kentucky-bred horse and the Morgan of Vermont.
In the earliest stages of settlement Amer­ica had little use for horses. Settlements were made on the seaboard and travel was accomplished by water. The first fields were so full of stumps, and the early roads were so bad and so slow, that oxen were preferable. As the plantations extended, however, and roads and bridle paths were opened, the horse became more and more desirable and necessary. Without the pack horse the country west of the Alleghanies could not have been opened up.