Episode available within Canada only.

We built the world around us with horsepower. But what is it that makes humans and horses so perfect for each other? And how have we transformed the wild horse we tamed 6,000 years ago into over 400 specialized breeds today?

To answer these questions, anthropologist-turned-filmmaker Niobe Thompson takes viewers on an epic journey across 11 countries on three continents and back in time to the mysterious beginnings of the horse-human relationship. Over three spectacular hours of cutting-edge science and gripping adventure, Thompson explores the evolution of horsepower, discovers how our ancestors tamed the horse and learns fascinating new insights into the body and mind of this unique animal.

Thompson goes a global adventure of discovery, living and riding with horse nomads in Arabia, Siberia and Mongolia, travelling into the field with archeologists, geneticists and horse psychologists, and above all, getting friendly with horses everywhere he goes.

Scene from Equus: The domestication of horse was a "game changer" for humans.

The domestication of the horse has been a mystery of science for generations. In Episode 2, First Riders, Thompson travels to Kazakhstan to witness the groundbreaking discovery of a skeleton from the earliest culture ever to tame horses. In this episode, viewers get a set of genuine science scoops: we are the first to learn that our ancestors domesticated the horse twice and that early riders carried the world’s first pandemic of plague to Europe.

MORE:
Meet The Horse: The Tiny Tropical Creature That Evolved Into Our Closest Animal Companion
Wild Facts About The Horse
From the Stone Age to Now: How Horsepower Changed our World

To bring the world of the first riders to life, Thompson and his filmmaking team travel back to Kazakhstan to film a series of exceptional dramatic re-enactments. In a year-long collaboration with Kazakh specialists, they rebuilt an entire Stone Age village, cast over 70 actors, filmed huge herds of horses high in the Tien Shan Mountains, and enlisted one of the world’s leading horse stunt ensembles, known for their work on Game of Thrones and Marco Polo. 

Returning to the present, Thompson took a dramatic and never-before-filmed journey across Mongolia’s Altai Mountains. Joining horse nomads on their gruelling winter migration over snow-covered alpine passes, Thompson discovers first-hand how horsepower makes an ancient way of life possible.

Credits (Click to expand)

WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY
Niobe Thompson

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Caroline Underwood

PRODUCED BY
Niobe Thompson

EDITORS
Brenda Terning (Eps. 1& III)
Scott Parker (Ep. II)
Krystal Moss (Ep. III)

CINEMATOGRAPHERS
Daron Donahue
aAron Munson

MUSIC COMPOSED AND CONDUCTED BY
Darren Fung

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER & PRODUCTION MANAGER
Sandra Tober

PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
Tamarra Canu

SOUND RECORDIST
Philip Dransfeld

AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY
Charles Taylor
Gabrielle Nadeau

PHANTOM HIGH SPEED OPERATOR
Luke Campbell

ADDITIONAL CAMERA
Sergio Olivares
Justin Maguire
Niobe Thompson
Tamarra Canu
Bat-Amgalan “Amga” Lkhagvajav
Sergei Shauchenka
Christina Ienna

GAFFER
Terry Sims (Head)
Mel Geary

GRIP
Larry Kelly (Key)
Anthony Goertz
Nevin Merrells

ASSISTANT EDITORS
Tamarra Canu
aAron Munson
Janet Savill
Hans Olsen
Sarah Taylor

SOUND DESIGN AND MIX
Johnny Blerot

SOUND EDIT
Iain Pattison
James Murdoch

FOLEY
Chris Szott
Isael Huard

VOICE COACH
April Banigan

ORCHESTRATION AND SCORE COORDINATION
Vincent L. Pratte

SCORE RECORDING ENGINEER
Jeremy Tusz

MUSIC PREPARATION
Stephanie Urquhart
Christopher Hawn
James Slainmann

ORIGINAL MUSIC PERFORMED BY
Members of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Pro Coro Canada, and Booming Tree Taiko at the Francis Winspear Centre for Music

For the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and the Francis Winspear Centre for Music:

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Annemarie Petrov

ARTISTIC ADMINISTRATOR
Rob McAlear

FACILITIES COORDINATOR
Diana de Sousa

ORCHESTRA CONTRACTOR
Eric Fipula

For Pro Coro Canada

ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Michael Zaugg

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Mireille Riiavec

SUPERVISING SCORE MIXERS
April Tucker CAS
James Clemens-Seely

SCORE MIXERS
Alex Bohn
Kseniya Degtyareva
Lilita Dunska
Esther Gadd
Joaquin Gomez
Mariana Hutten
Jonathan Kaspy
Aleksandra Landsmann
Matthew Manifould
Luisa Pinzon

MUSIC EDITOR
Derek Syverud

Score Mixed at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

COSTUME DESIGNERS
Kari-Lynn Kleinwachter, Canada
Liza Xenzova, Canada
Zhannat Baimukhanova, Kazakhstan

COSTUMERS
Zaure Aitbai
Zere Makhambet
Zhan Aldekov

PROSTHETICS AND MAKE-UP
Alisha Shmanova
Albina Rodygina
Luiza Amanbayeva

PROP ARTISTS
Seken Nurgaliev
Asylbek Tortkara
Daniyar Baidaralin

SET ARTIST
Alexey Shindin

CARPENTERS
Kairat Tasov
Eszhan Baltabai
Bolat Ertaev
Zeba Etaeva
Nurasyl Tasov
Arman Nurzhan
Beksultan Moldabekov
Erszhan Baltabaev
Daulet Nurmakhan
Ulan Sisenbaev

ARCHAEOLOGIST CONSULTANTS, DRAMATIC RECREATIONS
Professor Viktor Zaibert
Gabit Baimbetov
Emma Usmanova
Professor Mayke Wagner
Professor Pavel Tarasov

ANIMAL WRANGLERS
John Scott, Canada
Randy Donahue, Canada
Ginny Donahue, Canada
Aldabergen Shalipov, Kazakhstan
Baltabai Ibraev, Kazakhstan

ACTORS

HUNTER-GATHERERS, KAZAKHSTAN
Janat Daley
Aidynbek Beisenuly
Aigerim Beissembayeva
Zaure Aitbai
Zere Makhambet
Almas Ulan

BOTAI, KAZAKHSTAN
Yurii Matvienko
Timur Janyshev
Alla Stassyuk
Ilgizar Mavlyanov
Oksana Olenik
Milana Simonenko
Alexandra Belova
Kira Belova
Dariya Markina
Denis Markin
Artem Markin
Tatyana Laukert
Marina Burko
Nadezhda Chepenko
Tatyana Sklyar
Ruslan Aldazharov
Evdokim Artyushenko
Viktor Egozov
Evgenii Ostrovsky
Marina Egozova
Sergei Safiulin
Nikolay Simonenko
Andrei Mayer

YAMNAYA, KAZAKHSTAN
Kamila Kusaeva
Anzhelika Konossova
Gulmira Mukhtarova
Ruslan Podaruyev
Alexei Khromenkov
Bakhtiyor Tursunov
Murat Burkhanov

MONGOLS, KAZAKHSTAN
Edii Moldaliev
Toichubek Serkebaev
Sultan Dikambaev
Temirkhan Tursungaliev
Aidos Iskakov
Ilchibek Nuraev
Nurbek Bolotov

STUNT MASTERS
Zhaidarbek Kunguzhinov, Kazakhstan
Timur Janyshev, Kazakhstan
Ruslan Podaruyev, Kazakhstan
Mike Loades, United Kingdom

COLOUR GRADE & ONLINE MASTERS
Glenn Sakatch

VISUAL EFFECTS & ANIMATION DIRECTOR
Greg Marshall

3D ANIMATIONS
Ryder McLean
Karl “Nekosei” Reichert

STOCK FOOTAGE RESEARCH
Gina Cali

ACCOUNTING SERVICES
Candice Kent

PRODUCTION SOLICITOR
Linda Callaghan

STOCK FOOTAGE & ARCHIVAL PHOTOGRAPHS PROVIDED BY
University College Dublin Research & Innovation
Getty Images
Shutterstock
Filmsupply
NatureFootage
NBC
National Geographic
The Calgary Stampede
Zatzworks Inc.
United Church Archives

SPECIAL THANKS
Sable Island National Park Reserve, Parks Canada
Whitemud Equine Learning Centre Association
HRH Princess Alia bint Al Hussein
The Calgary Stampede
Churchill Downs, Kentucky
Tapeta Farm, Maryland
Glebe House in Coolcullen, County Kilkenny
Ministry of Information and Communications of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Shejire DNA
State National Nature Park Burabay
State Historical-Cultural Reserve Museum Issyk
The British Museum
Kunstkamera Museum, St. Petersburg
Musee departemental de Prehistoire de Solutré
Caverne du Pont D’Arc (Chauvet), Ardeche
Grube Messel Museum
Siksika First Nation
The horse community of Edmonton, Alberta

Produced with the participation of Canadian Media Fund

Produced with the assistance of Government of Alberta
Alberta Media Fund

Produced with the participation of Rogers Documentary Fund

Produced with the participation of Rogers Telefund

Produced with participation of The Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit

Produced with the cooperation of the Canadian Federation of Musicians

Produced in association with THIRTEEN Productions LLC and WNET.

Executive Producer for Nature: Fred Kaufman
Supervising Producer for Nature: Bill Murphy

Produced by Handful of Films

For the CBC

General Manager, Programming
Sally Catto

Executive Director, Unscripted Content
Jennifer Dettman

Senior Director, Documentary
Sandra Kleinfeld

Director of Production, Unscripted Content
Alexandra Lane

Executive in Charge of Production
Sue Dando

The Nature of Things
with David Suzuki

Produced by
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

cbc.ca/natureofthings

© Handful of Films 2018

 

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