Horses are majestic animals that are as powerful as they are beautiful.
They have oval-shaped hooves, long tails, short hair, long slender legs, muscular and deep torso build, long thick necks, and large elongated heads. The mane is a region of coarse hairs, which extends along the dorsal side of the neck in both domestic and wild species.
Humans and horses have partnered for thousands of years. Before the advent of the internal combustion engine, equines were the major source of transportation and motive power. Today, horses still serve in work roles but are just as common for sport, recreation and hobby.
Horses are found in almost every country in the world and every continent except Antarctica.
Domestication of horses has led to wide variation in the characteristics of breeds of horses.
There are more than 300 breeds of horse in the world today, developed for many different uses.
The average lifespan of a domestic horse is 25 to 30 years. Uncommonly, a few animals live into their 40s and, occasionally, beyond. The oldest verifiable record was “Old Billy”, a 19th-century horse that lived to the age of 62.
Size can vary depending on the breed and its intended use, but can range from 55 to 1,000 kilograms (120 to 2,200 pounds) in mass and 76 to 183 centimeters (30 to 72 in) height.
Horses range from the very slim and slender (e.g. Akhal Teke) to massive and muscular (e.g. Ardenner) — some are built for speed, some for strength, some for nimbleness, some for steadiness, but most for some combination of these.
Horses are highly social herd animals that prefer to live in a group. There also is a linear dominance hierarchy in any herd. They will establish a “pecking order” for the purpose of determining which herd member directs the behavior of others, eats and drinks first, and so on.
Horses communicate in various ways, including vocalizations such as nickering, squealing or whinnying; touch, through mutual grooming or nuzzling; smell; and body language.
Horses have bones and ligaments (the elastic bands that connect bones at the joints) in their legs that can lock together in a special way. That allows the animals to be completely relaxed while standing.
However, horses lie down when they require REM sleep. Typically, the amount of REM sleep they require is very small (about 30 minutes per day), so they don’t need to lie down often. When horses lie down to sleep, others in the herd remain standing, awake or in a light doze, keeping watch.
Many people think that horses, are color blind – only seeing in shades of gray. This is not true. Horses do see color, but they may not see it as vividly as we do. This is because they can only see two of the three visible wavelengths in the light spectrum. This is somewhat similar to the way people who are colorblind see. So your horse doesn’t see the color red, but they can see blues and greens. So the lovely red apple or the bright orange carrot you offer as a treat may actually appear brownish or greenish to your horse.
Horses have the largest eyes of any land mammal. Using both eyes horses see virtually 350 degrees and the horse almost has a complete “sphere of vision” around its body with only a few small “blind spots.”
While humans have just 3 ear muscles, horses have 10. This means they can move their ears 180 degrees and can single out a special area to listen to.
Unlike our teeth, horse’s teeth continue to erupt or grow throughout most of their life, especially in their early years. They are also constantly being worn down due to the griding action horses use to chew their feed.
Male and female horses have a different number of teeth: males have 44, while females have 36-40.
A horse’s teeth take up a larger amount of space in their head than their brain.
Everyone knows most horses are fitted with horseshoes, but most people aren’t aware that these curved pieces of metal are not just to protect the hoof. The hard parts of horse hooves are made of keratin — the same sturdy protein that comprise horns, nails, and hair — and therefore leave a lot to be desired when it comes to things like traction. The shoe improves the traction of the hoof and provides extra shock absorption, which you may recognize as the exact same benefits your running shoes give you.
Horses are intelligent although some are undoubtedly more intelligent than others. They have the ability to learn but also the ability to work things out for themselves such as opening stable bolts, freeing themselves from accidents in the field, etc.
As herbivores, horses evolved to consume a plant-based diet. Over the millennia, their working partnerships with humans resulted in different kinds of horse food, especially the development of feeding grains for energy purposes. While the modern horse owner has more choices than ever regarding commercial horse feeds, hay and pasture still remain the basics of the equine diet.
Treats like apples and carrots are relished by horses and they’re good for a horse as well. Always feed a horse with the snacks flat in the palm of your hand, so he won’t accidentally grab a finger. Because of choking hazards, cut up apples and break apart carrots before feeding.
All horses move naturally with four basic gaits:
• the four-beat walk, which averages 6.4 kilometers per hour (4.0 mph)
• the two-beat trot or jog at 13 to 19 kilometers per hour (8.1 to 11.8 mph)
• the canter or lope, a three-beat gait that is 19 to 24 kilometers per hour (12 to 15 mph)
• the gallop averages 40 to 48 kilometers per hour (25 to 30 mph), but the world record for a horse galloping over a short, sprint distance is 70.76 kilometers per hour (43.97 mph).
After an 11-month gestation, a mare gives birth to a foal. The newborn stands and nurses within a couple of hours after birth. He’ll spend the next several months at his mother’s side. Broodmares and their foals should spend most, if not all, of their time out on pasture with other mothers and babies. The foals can exercise, building bone and muscle, while learning how equine society works. Weaning occurs between the ages of four and six months.
The world’s horse population is likely to be around 60 million, according to official figures and estimates, although attempting such a count is undoubtedly the equine equivalent of herding cats.
The ancestors of horses were found from northernmost Africa, throughout mainland Europe, and east through Asia. In the Late Glacial period they were also found throughout North America, but they became extinct there between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago.
Most “wild” horses today, such as the American mustang [photo below] or the Australian brumby, are actually feral horses descended from domesticated animals that escaped and adapted to life in the wild.
The Przewalski’s horse may never have been domesticated and has long been considered only true wild horse extant in the world today. However, a 2018 DNA study suggested that modern Przewalski horses may descend from the domesticated horses of the Botai.
Horses have lived on Earth for more than 50 million years.
The term “horse” is derived from the Old English hors, which is related to the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) kurs, which is the source of the Latincurrere, “to run.” This replaced the original PIE root ekwo from which the Greekhippos and Latin equus derived, both meaning “horse.” This dual etymology is perhaps due to the reluctance of ancient cultures to utter the actual root or name of an animal held sacred for the Indo-European religion.
The earliest archaeological evidence for the domestication of the horse comes from sites in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, dating to approximately 3500–4000 BC.
In 2000, Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus has been sold to Ashford Stud, the North American division of the global stallion operation Coolmore Stud, for a sum that is believed to be between $60 million and $70 million, easily topping the record price of $40 million paid for Shareef Dancer in 1983.
Arab horses are considered some of the strongest endurance runners in animal kingdom, capable of running over 160 kilometers (100 miles) without rest.
In the late 1880s, New York City was occupied by 1,200,000 people, and about 170,000 horses for transportation.
People of all ages with physical and mental disabilities obtain beneficial results from association with horses.
Equinophobia or hippophobia is a psychological fear of horses.