A grand compilation of fascinating facts about the animal the Moslems have called ""the most beautiful of all."" The horse has been intimately linked to humankind's development since it was first tamed (probably by farmers who prized its meat and milk) in central Asia 6000 years ago. Again and again, its presence has shaped or altered human behavior and history--from cataclysmic event to relatively minor custom: the construction of the Great Wall by the Chinese in 221 B.C. kept out the mounted Huns, who, thus thwarted, turned toward Europe; in 17th-century England, as enclosed fields replaced the forests where nobles had long hunted deer, they bred horses that could jump the new fences and took to fox-hunting. Introducing her chapters with myths and legends from many cultures, Jurmain surveys the horse's progress from servant, instrument of war, means of transport and communication, and worker, to participant in sport, concluding with its present status as primarily a friend. Like James Giblin, Jurmain sheds light on all of history while following one important element. While her style is breezy and informal, the content here is extensive, almost encyclopedic, and illuminating far beyond its factual level. A large, handsome book with scores of well-chosen b&w illustrations, both reproductions and photos. Notes (added information); sources; illustration credits; index.