The true draft-horse attracted comparatively little attention in America until permanent settlements had spread over the middle west. When the railways reached the western prairies, these vast fertile areas became valuable, since rapid and cheap communication with the east furnished facilities for reaching a steady and profitable market along these railways. Cities were soon built where, but a few years before, the bison roamed undisturbed except by his compeer, the American Indian. The opening of the prairies to the peaceful pursuits of agriculture, and the growing cities, created a demand for larger numbers of heavier horses than had hitherto been required. It will readily be seen how necessary the horse has been to the development of American agriculture, when it is stated that in 1890 the total number of horses on farms and ranges, not including 7,461 on Indian reservations and 2,314,785 mules and asses which take the place of horses as work stock in the southern states, was 15,258,783. The population of the country, exclusive of Alaska and Island possessions, was 62,622,250. This shows that there were approximately twenty-five horses, not counting those in cities, for every one hundred inhabitants of the entire country. If the mules and asses, and horses on Indian reservations be included, there would be twenty-eight of these wore animals for every one hundred inhabitants. The horses kept in the cities have never been enumerated in the Census until 1900; if they had been, the total showing above would be largely increased. If the people, as well as the horses of the cities, be excluded from the computation, it is seen that, in 1900, for every three persons living on farms at least one horse was maintained. These facts emphasize as nothing else can the usefulness of the horse in rural pursuits and the great love of the Americans for one of the most useful, charming and pleasure-giving domestic animals. The horses of Great Britain numbered, in 1899, 1,517,160. The population, the same year, was 40,559,-954. This shows that but one horse was maintained for every twenty-six, or four horses for every one hundred inhabitants. However, the horses in the cities, as well as the city population, are included in these computations and therefore are not strictly comparable with those of the United States. It is estimated by good authority that in 1900, in the city of London, with a population of 4,504,766, there are 600,00 horses in daily use. It is evident that neither steam nor electricity is likely entirely to supplant the horse, either in city or country, in the near future.
In 1892, the population of France was 38,333,000. The number and classification of horses for the same year was as follows:
Horses Employed in Agriculture -
Geldings and stallions.....
Stallions for breeding....
Mares for breeding.....
Colts, one to three years old ....
Colts, less than one year
Horses Employed in Cities -
In other cities about....
Government studs - stallions ....
This gives one horse for every ten, or ten to every one hundred inhabitants. It may be said, however, that the exact number of horses maintained in cities cannot be secured but the estimate given above is believed to be very nearly correct.
The population of the German empire, in 1895, was 52,279,901; the number of horses (understood to include those in the cities) was 4,038,485, or one horse for thirteen, or seven and seven-tenths horses to every one hundred inhabitants.
These three great European countries1 had a population, at the dates mentioned, of 131,172,855 and 9,313,-745 horses, or one horse to every fourteen inhabitants; while the United States, in 1890, had a population of 62,622,250 and the number of horses on the farms for the same year was 15,258,783; or, roundly, one horse for every four inhabitants. The rural population at that time, including those who lived in the outskirts of the villages and cities and who kept horses in part for pleasure, as well as for cultivating land, was estimated at one-half of the total population. If this estimate, which is believed to be nearer correct than the former one, is taken as a basis for computation, it appears that in the rural districts of the United States there are half as many horses as inhabitants, or one horse for every two inhabitants; while in The Netherlands with its many canals, in 1897, but one horse was maintained for every eighteen inhabitants. Fortunately, the horses in the cities have been enumerated in the Census of 1900. The total number in the United States is 21,216,888; 866,771 of which are in cities of over 25,000 inhabitants, 18,280,007 on farms and ranges, and 2,070,110 not on farms or ranges. The total population in 1900 was 76,303,387, and indicates that one horse was maintained for every 3.6 inhabitants.
1 The figures for Great Britain, Germany, France and Holland were secured through the kindness of the American Consuls.
It is evident that in America the farmers have learned to substitute brute for human energy. Agricultural teachers and inventors have taught the farmer that human muscle, in the United States at least, is the dearest material from which to secure energy. The value of a day's labor for a horse may be put down at fifty cents, that of a man at one dollar. A horse properly directed is equal in productive energy to ten men. Just here lies the secret of American agriculture.
A horse, intelligently handled, may be made to cheapen farm operations twenty fold over the old hand methods. Human muscle, however cheap, can never successfully compete in agriculture with improved implements, operated by well bred-horses adapted to their work and directed by intelligent workmen. The American farmer is not usually content to direct the energies of but one horse at a time. He harnesses two, three, four, and even six, to a single implement of tillage. In the great wheat districts of the northwest, where the fields are often a mile long and where two plows are mounted on wheels and drawn by five horses (Fig. 1), and where ten rounds, or twenty miles, that is, forty miles of a single furrow, sixteen inches wide, is plowed in a day, a single workman accomplishes, in the pulverization and preparation of the six and a half acres, more than a hundred hand laborers could do in a day of the severest toil. Or a still more striking illustration of the economy of horse over man power may be given. In many of the great wheat-fields of California, from twenty-two to thirty-two horses are attached to a combined machine (Fig. 2) which cuts, threshes, cleans and sacks from one thousand to two thousand bushels of wheat per day. One man drives the horses and two or three others tend the machine and sew up the sacks of grain, the four spending less muscular energy than was formerly required merely to cut by hand a single acre.
Fig. 1. Plowing: Conservation of human energy and concentration of cheap energy.