You are in site section: Exhibitions

Between horses and people

Spirited: Australia's Horse Story

Between horses and people

Jessyca Daykin with her horse.
Jessyca Daykin and Caramea Morocco at the Tom Quilty Cup 2013 endurance ride, Kilkivan, Queensland. Photo: Jason McCarthy.

People (Homo sapiens sapiens) and horses (Equus ferus caballus) have lived together for thousands of years.

At first, people hunted and herded horses for food, but around 6,500 years ago they began riding horses and using them to pull loads. Horses have derived food, care and safety from humans, and humans have benefited from horses' strength, speed and grace.

Along the way, people have endeavoured to understand, communicate with and influence equine companions, often coming to love them in the process. But how do horses think and feel about us?

Explore some of the stories and objects

Spirited: Australia's horse story
George Hamilton's illustrations

From an early treatise on horse welfare in Australia.
Parts of Phar Lap’s heart
Parts of Phar Lap’s heart

Sections of ventricle wall, aorta and pericardium cut from the legendary racehorse's heart.
Medal for ‘Vermont Junior'
Medal for ‘Vermont Junior’

1883 show society prize presented to Mr W Harris for best coaching stallion.

Silent Conversation, by Harrie Fasher, 2014. National Museum of Australia.

Artist Harrie Fasher describes the process involved in creating her steel rod sculpture Silent Conversation. This work explores the relationship between horses and humans.