My humans like to stay informed. They read newspapers, listen to the radio, watch TV and have news apps on their phones. Hundreds of years ago people did not have the radio, TV and phone apps. They had some newspapers but many people did not even know how to read. So how did people receive information? They used "word of mouth". Word of mouth is the passing of information from person to person using oral communication.
Have you ever played the game of telephone? It shows how word of mouth works. If you have never played the game, gather family and friends and give it a try. Here are the rules:
Today we hear a lot about "Fake News". Even with all of the communication tools available today, the message is often misinterpreted and changed.
So how did "word of mouth" work? In the ancient world messengers traveled on foot to deliver messages. That took a very long time! People often did not know what was even happening in a village just 50 miles away. People had no idea that there were wars in other parts of the world. The people in ancient Europe did not have chariots; they didn't even know that the people in ancient Egypt were driving around in chariots until hundreds of years later! So, not only did news travel slowly, even inventions spread very slowly throughout the ancient world. But that all changed when people started to harness the power of the horse! For thousands of years the horse was the fastest way to get information from one place to another. Throughout history there have been many great stories of horses that helped to spread the word.
Here are just a few stories. I wrote a news headline for each story - aren't I clever?
Horse Helps Spread a New Religion
Did you know that Buddhism started with a journey on a horse? Buddhism is the world's fourth largest religion with over 520 million followers.
Siddhartha was born in Nepal during the 4th century BC. According to legend, Siddhartha was a prince born into power and privilege. When the Prince came into manhood, he was given a pure white horse named Kanthaka who escorted him wherever he went. Even as Siddhartha rode Kanthaka while learning war game exercises, things were carried out in a most delicate manner; an umbrella was held above the young Prince's head day and night to protect him from cold, heat, dust, dirt, and dew, even while riding his horse. Siddhartha, mounted on Kanthaka, proved his capabilities as a warrior too. But then at the age of 29 Siddhartha and Kanthaka journeyed through his father’s kingdom and witnessed sickness and cruelty for the first time so he decided to leave behind his life of luxury and to seek enlightenment. According to legend he started out on his journey with Kanthaka and "the horse's hooves were muffled by the gods" to prevent the palace guards from knowing of his departure. When Siddhartha dismounted for the last time, Kanthaka died of a broken heart caused by the separation from the one he loved. Yet in an act of divine grace, the faithful horse was reincarnated as an enlightened human being.
Governor Dispatches First Post Rider
When the colonies in the Northeast of America were first settled in the early 1600s, the communities lying between Boston and New York were virtually isolated from one another. On January 22, 1673, Governor Francis Lovelace of New York dispatched the first post rider to effectively connect New York and Boston and provide mail service for the settlements which lay on the way. The route taken by this first post rider carried him to New Haven, Hartford, and then Springfield, Massachusetts. The route then followed the “Bay Path,” a former Indian trail, on to Boston. This route was known as the Upper Boston Post Road, and the total journey from New York to Boston was some 250 miles. The post rider remained the principle means of communication in colonial America and his services were not replaced until improved roads permitted stagecoach travel in the late 1700’s. The horse provided the means to carry goods to market, to speed people from one city to another, and to carry settlers into the interior of America. Muddy paths gave way to a well-designed road system. The stagecoach eventually afforded a means of mass transit whereby people could move about in relative safety and comfort
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