Horses and humans have enjoyed a long and unique relationship through history. This partnership has existed for nearly 6000 years. Originally considered only a source of food, the domestic horse (Equus caballus) now serves man in more ways than any other domesticated species. Around the world, the horses of today are used for transportation, draft, recreation, warfare, companionship, and, of course, food. Within the recreation sector alone, horses are engaged in hundreds of activities, from racing to the Olympic Games to pleasure riding. Horses are now found in almost every country in the world and have become a major force in many economies. Horses generate more than $25 billion annually in goods and services in the United States alone. Their large geographical distribution and myriad phenotypes, from the large Shire to the tiny Shetland pony, serve as a testament to the selection pressures horses have undergone through the ages, shaping them according to human needs and desires. Modern advances in quantitative and molecular genetics allow man to mold the horse quickly and accurately.
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