and no hopples
This excerpt from an article in the June 1978 Hoof Beats:
The racing of trotters and pacers spanned the great civilizations of the ancient world the Assyro‑Babylonian empire; the Chinese; the Greeks of the Golden Age—all revered the harness horse, making him a symbol of prestige and power.
It was one of the world's first great empires—the Assyro‑Babylonian—that placed the trotter in a position of royal honor. Known as the Mitanni trotters, these horses were at their height in 1350 B.C.
The Mitanni kingdom was one of the more powerful in the empire and its people were the ruling class of the Hurrian tribe. When the Hittite warrior, Suppiluliumas, and his army conquered the nation, and its ruling dynasty, the conqueror became known as King Suppiluliumas and, soon after his ascension to the throne, the royal trotters became an important part of his kingdom's culture.
Not until the 1930's was the modern world made aware of the flourishing sport of trotting in Suppiluliumas' world. Archaeological excavations in Bokazkoy, (Turkish Asia Minor) unearthed baked clay tablets containing, intact, some 900 lines of description of the training of trotting horses by Kikkulis, c. 1350 B.C., Suppilulimas' head trainer.
These tablets, when translated and presented to the Academie des Inscriptions et Belle‑Lettres in 1934, revealed a highly organized, and sophisticated program for the training of horses at speed, for the trot and the gallop. The training, which began in the spring, lasted 144 days and eventually led to the race course, hunting field or battlefield.
A few thousand miles away, to the east, and a millenium later, in the Oriental world of the Han dynasty, the pacing horse was to be found everywhere, appearing not only on the royal race courses, but in sculpture, paintings, and in superhuman funerary art. It was the Han who immortalized the pacer in more art work than any other dynasty had in the 12 centuries of the Chinese pacers' existence.
As early as the 10th century B.C., these graceful creatures were being trained, by the thousands, for the Imperial stables. While not very large, these Imperial pacers had massive, barrel chests; heavy skulls and slim, muscular legs, When depicted in the art of the Han dynasty, they were usually shown at their rapid pace, ambling along or racing in what was called, by the Chinese, a "flying gallop," with hindquarters and forelegs stretching out almost horizontally. Not only used for racing, these horses were employed at draft, hacking, hunting, parade, and in war.
While the harness horse in China was a part of the exclusive world of royalty, in ancient Greece, during its glorious" Golden Age," the harness horse became available to the commoner too. It was the Olympic Games of the 5th century B.C. that played host to the trotting competitions known as the "kalpe, " a race that was one of the major components of the equestrian program.