Since times unknown, horses have played a very significant role in human civilizations across the world.
Known for their enormous power, stamina, speed and benevolence with mankind, they have the term ‘horsepower’ signature to them.
Since ages horses have been the man’s best companion. The language of love between the humans and horses unfolds many aspects of deep and subtle connection between the two species. Horses and humans have a time defying ancient relationship. The animals remained essential to many human societies until the advent of the engine. In times of peace and war, horses have been the most reliable and closest companion of humans. Experts say that no animal has contributed more to the spread of civilization as the horse.
Few very peculiar facts about horses are worth knowing. Horses can sleep both lying down and standing up. Horses can run shortly after birth and have a lifespan of around 25 years. The Arab is thought to be the oldest surviving breed of horse. Experts believe they first appeared about 4,500 years ago. There is only one species of domestic horse, but around 400 different breeds that specialize in everything from pulling wagons to racing. All horses are grazers.
While the sport of polo is older than times of Kings and Queens, we know that its origins are in the inspirational relationship between humans and horses. This deep bond and the unique amalgamation of athletic talents between horse and the horse rider have helped polo evolve into an elite sport. In horse racing worldwide, much to entertain the humans, these mammals are trained and forced to sprint often under the threat of whips at speeds so fast that they frequently sustain serious injuries. Shockingly, Racehorses are the victims of a multibillion-dollar industry that is rife with drug abuse, injuries and many horses’ careers end at the slaughterhouse.
Interestingly, the horse is present in many different cultures, and represents the same concepts of freedom and power. In some cultures, white horses stand for the balance of wisdom and power. In Christianity, the white horse is a symbol of death. The horse is a universal symbol of freedom without restraint. Also linked with riding horses, they are symbols of power, travel, movement, and desire. The horse also represents power in Native American tribes. The number of horses a tribe possessed was telling of how wealthy they were. In mythology, the horse is ever present. The Romans linked horses with Mars, the god of the fury of war. Horses were also seen pulling the chariot of Helios, the sun god. In the Celtic mythology, horses were good luck and were harbingers of good fortune.
Since 2011, while I was working on a long time series on ‘Hola Mohalla’, a three day celebration highlighting the unabated fountain of Guru’s love at Anandpur Sahib, Punjab, India; with serendipity I was drawn to the deep and intricate connection of horses with their human masters. Interacting with several Nihang Singhs it was a pleasant fact to know that every horse rider has a couple of horses assigned to him for more than 10 years! Horses react to every little command of their masters with absolute integrity. The masters understand every subtle gesture of this beautiful mammal as to when a horse is hungry, what its mood is, is the horse suffering and much more. The horses are looked after very well by these Nihang Singhs and interestingly many of these young boys are almost the same age as their horse! More than often the relation seen here is more of a friendship than that of a master. A horse displays deep compassion with the master not only on field but also off field.
With every passing year till date I felt more intrigued to the love and the depth between the horses and their masters. Capturing their daily life gestures and nuances gave birth to this inspiring photo story. Horse, a mammal as compassionate, athletic and disciplined as a human could be, an icon of speed, freedom and power, every gallop of whose recites the poetry of speed.
About Jagdev Singh
Jagdev Singh is a life photographer living in New Delhi, India. His work untangles the complex appearance of life, revealing a fine sense for a moment to pause. In his unique style of documentation photography, he loves to capture the moments and moods from people’s daily life. People and Street and his favorite subjects. [Official Website]