National Day of the Horse is observed annually on December 13. National Day of the Horse encourages people of the United States to be mindful of the contribution of horses to the economy, history and character of the United States. The domesticated horse we know today, also known as Equus caballus was introduced into North America by Spanish explorers. Escaped horses eventually spread across the American Great Plains.
Interestingly, there is a debate about the origin of E. caballus. There have been recent mitochondrial studies of an ancient horse called Equus lamei. E. lamei once populated North America and died out more than 11,000 years ago. The studies suggest it is genetically equivalent to what we know as the modern, domesticated horse. This could mean that E. caballus is technically a native species and its evolutionary origin is North America. Aside from the anthropological debate, the horse has contributed greatly to the advancement of civilization in North America. From clearing forests for farmland and a form of travel bringing pioneers to the west to diversifying Native American’s hunting habits and rounding up livestock on ranches, the horse is embedded in American history and legend.
In 2004, Congress recognized the first official National Day of the Horse. The text of the resolution states:
Encouraging citizens to be mindful of the contribution of horses to the economy, history, and character of the United States and expressing the sense of Congress that a National Day of the Horse should be established.
Whereas the horse is a living link to the history of the United States;
Whereas, without horses, the economy, history, and character of the United States would be profoundly different;
Whereas horses continue to permeate the society of the United States, as witnessed on movie screens, on open land, and in our own backyards;
Whereas horses are a vital part of the collective experience of the United States and deserve protection and compassion;
Whereas, because of increasing pressure from modern society, wild and domestic horses rely on humans for adequate food, water, and shelter; and
Whereas the Congressional Horse Caucus estimates that the horse industry contributes well over $100,000,000,000 each year to the economy of the United States: Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress–
- Encourages all citizens to be mindful of the contribution of horses to the economy, history, and character of the United States;
- Expresses its sense that a National Day of the Horse should be established in recognition of the importance of horses to the Nation’s security, economy, recreation, and heritage; and
- Urges the President to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States and interested organizations to observe National Day of the Horse with appropriate programs and activities.