In our recent tirades about the obvious evils of deer, it was noted , once again, that some scholars think that the horses mentioned in the Book of Mormon may not have been horses, but another hoofed animal. The common one that lives in the right place is similar to a deer. Unfortunately, such comments often are made in the context of how funny it is to think of riding deer into battle. In an effort to save future commenters embarassment, let me note that:
1. The Book of Mormon mentions horses very little. 13 times is the word-form used, and twice is quoting Isaiah. Once is a prophecy of the future. 3 times is just to mention that these animals exist. 3 more time are in the context of the 3rd Nephi story about gathering flocks and horses together defensively. 4 times it is about Ammon feeding the horses that drive Lamoni’s chariot. That’s it.
2. The Standard Works mention horses 203 times. Both the OT and the D&C mention riding horses, but there is no mention anywhere in the Book of Mormon of people riding horses or sitting on them or anything like unto it.
3. There is no mention of using horses in any of the battles that occur in the Book of Mormon.
4. In the 3rd Nephi story, the mention of horses may suggest (but does not say) that they are a food source, which seems more in character for deer-like things than for horses.
The whole “Horse is a translation for a kind of deer” thing might be completely wrong, but the fact that one does not normally ride deer is irrelevant to the discussion. The Book of Mormon never says the horses it talks about were ridden. In fact, it never mentions inhabitants “riding” anything, ever.
For those interested in Book of Mormon archaelogy, I recommend John Sorenson’s “An Ancient American setting for the Book of Mormon”. It is 20 years old, and so I’m sure there has been much discovered since then, but it is still a great read. If anyone has additional reading suggestions for me, I’d love to hear them.