At first, man had almost no speed. We could jog and we could manage short sprints. But speed, compared to the rest of the animal kingdom? It really wasn’t our thing. To compensate, we learnt to use our head. This initially led to better stuff like weapons, fire, flint and tinder (no, not the app), which helped make us more effective hunters.
But then, man transcended his natural limits by leaping on the back of a horse. The increase in speed was massive – while we can run at an average of 20kph (unless you’re a certain Mr Bolt who hit an incredible 44.64kph in 2009), a good horse can manage 55. This, depending on whom you ask, happened somewhere around 3500BC, in what is now modern-day Kazakhstan. And the horse continued to be our fastest mode of transport until it was fully replaced by the car somewhere in the early 1920s – roughly 5,000 years later!
So, is it any wonder then that the horse and speed are inexorably linked? Sure, the real iron horse is a motorcycle and the car is actually a horseless carriage. But think of it in a broader sense and it’s the car that replaced the horse. Speed, power and performance are also what you represent when you use a horse as a totem. And a powerful totem it is – just look at the aura of success the horse has conferred upon sportscar makers, all of them super successful. There’s Ferrari, of course, and Porsche (there’s a horse in the shield of Stuttgart), and then there’s the latest entrant into India, Ford’s Mustang, a car that’s literally “democratised” horsepower.