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The Horse: reframing the history of human progress

Frederick Woodhouse Senior, 1820–1909. The Cup of 1862-1863, oil on canvas. Donated by Mr F. W. Prell, 1889 Victoria Racing Club Collection. The National Gallery of Victoria, Author provided
Frederick Woodhouse Senior, 1820–1909. The Cup of 1862-1863, oil on canvas. Donated by Mr F. W. Prell, 1889 Victoria Racing Club Collection. The National Gallery of Victoria, Author provided
In a fascinating exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia, the relationship between horses and humans is explored, in the course of which a veritable social history of the horse emerges. It is extraordinary that one animal has had such a profound impact on human history. In the words of Captain Cook: "They are human creatures … more entitled to his favour [they] may appear to some to be the most wretched upon the earth; but in reality they are far happier than … we Europeans."

(Social history is one of the categories for the 2016 Dan David Prize. Learn more here: selected fields 2016 - past social history)