History - No horsing around

Saddle up for an exhibition that explores equine history

Jerome Monahan

There is a potentially great quiz question at the heart of The Horse: from Arabia to Royal Ascot, the latest exhibition at the British Museum: what links the Byerley Turk, the Darley Arabian and the Godolphin Arabian? The answer is that all modern British thoroughbred horses in the UK today can trace their ancestry back to these three 18th-century stallions.

The exhibition traces the importance of the horse in the Ancient Near East: the source ultimately of the prized Arabians - famed for their stamina, endurance, tranquil temperament and beauty - that have so enriched our own more recent equine history.

Key exhibits include a 2000BC Babylonian plaque featuring one of the earliest known depictions of horse riding; fabulous 2,800-year-old Assyrian wall reliefs showing horse-drawn chariots in lion and bull hunts; and exquisite 17th-century Mughal watercolours (pictured above).

The British Museum is providing an educational programme alongside the exhibition. Key stage 1 children will get the chance to build an equine model in a practical session, while key stages 3 to 5 are being offered art-focused sessions on how the depiction of the horse has changed over time.

Online educational resources will include the tale of British adventurer Lady Anne Blunt (1837-1917), whose passion for preserving the purest Arabian bloodlines led to the creation in Surrey of the UK's first Arabian stud farm.

Jerome Monahan is a freelance teacher and journalist. The exhibition runs until 30 September. Visit bit.lyNLKQbS

What else?

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In the forums

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Jerome Monahan

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