In the thousands of years that horses and humans have been living together, horses have changed human society as much as humans changed horse DNA.

That relationship is explored in The Horse, a new exhibit opening at the Canadian Museum of Civilization May 28.

“The focus is on the evolution of the horse and how it went from being a dog-sized, four-toed creature to being the magnificent hoofed creature that we see today,” said Sheldon Posen, the in-house curator of The Horse exhibit. “Then we go into how the horse shaped us.”

Humans shaped horses by selective breeding that created small Shetland ponies to work in mines, and huge work horses for the fields.

Before the internal combustion engine, the horse was the fastest way to travel, said Posen. All trade, travel and communication relied on horses.

Among the highlights of the exhibit is a German suit of equine armour dating back to the 15th century. The suit comes to Ottawa with its own curators from Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin.

The exhibit was put together by the American Museum of Natural History, but the exhibition has many Canadian elements inserted in it.

There is a painting from the First World War depicting the charge of the Canadian cavalry at the Battle of Moreuil Wood.

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