Did You Know..?Hyracotherium was one of the first horses that lived about 50 million years ago. It had 4-toed front feet and 3-toed hind feet, and resembled a fox more than the horse of today.
The prehistoric horse, Hyracotherium
, went through innumerable transformations over millions of years to become the modern one-toed horse.
In the beginning, horses were wild animals. Around 3500 B.C., things changed and people began taming horses and using them to carry things, instead of only hunting them for meat.
By 3000 B.C., this majestic beast was completely tamed and domesticated, and now only 1 wild subspecies of horse exists, which too, has been declared "rare".
Here are some more interesting facts about these beautiful creatures...
Interesting Facts About Horses
First off, let's see the terminology associated with the horse:
- Foal - Male or female horse less than 1 year old.
- Yearling - Male or female horse between 1 and 2 years old.
- Colt & Filly - Colt is a male horse between 2 and 4 years old, while a filly is a female horse between 2 and 4 years old.
- Mare - A female horse older than 4 years.
- Gelding & Stallion - Gelding is a castrated male horse older than 4 years, while a stallion is a non-castrated male horse older than 4 years.
A horse is a member of the "equus" family. This word originates from the Greek dialect, and means 'quickness'. Equus caballus
, is a term given to modern-day horses.
Foals have milk teeth, just like human babies. At around age 3, these start getting replaced by permanent teeth. A horse's teeth can give a good estimate of its age!
A horse's head weighs 11.84 pounds on an average, while its heart can weigh an amazing 10 pounds.
A little about their head markings:
- A narrow white mark, which runs down the face from the forehead, is called a Stripe.
- A white mark, which covers one or both the lips and proceeds up to the nostrils, is called a White Muzzle.
- A broad splash of white that covers most parts of the forehead between the eyes and carries, right down the nose to the muzzle is called a Blaze.
- Any kind of mark, which appears on the forehead of a horse, is called a Star, irrespective of whether it resembles one.
A horse has 4 gaits:
- Walk (2 beats) - The average walking speed of a horse is 4 - 5 miles per hour.
- Trot/Jog (2 beats) - 8 - 12 miles per hour is the average speed at which a horse trots.
- Lope/Canter (3 beats) - A horse can canter at an average of 12 - 16 miles per hour.
- Gallop - Horses can gallop at 26 - 32 miles per hour.
Besides this, some horses have a varied gait referred to as ambling
The height of a horse is measured using the unit, "hand", where one hand equals four inches. So if a horse measures 16 hands, it is 16x4 which is 64 inches tall.
Some people have a fear of horses. It is called Equinophobia
There are more than 350 breeds of horses in the world!
A horse's mood usually mirrors the emotions of its owner. If you are in a bad mood, your horse may act out, but if you are in a good mood your horse will be well-behaved and easy to work with.
A fully grown 1000 lb horse will eat anywhere between 16 - 26 lb of food, and drink 10 - 12 gal of water!
If you hold your hand out to a horse and it approaches you, while then blowing warm air onto the palm of your hand, it means that he/she wants to be friends with you. If it rests its head on your shoulder, it means that he/she trusts you.
Horses use their facial expressions to communicate. Their moods can be determined with the help of their nostrils, eyes and ears.
Horses cannot vomit, and hence digestion problems could be fatal to a horse. The leading cause of death in horses is reported to be colic.
Horses can sleep lying down as well as standing up. They sleep only 3 - 4 hours per day!
The hoof of a horse is like a fingernail. It grows throughout its life and needs to be clipped regularly so that it does not cause discomfort to the horse. A farrier
is the person who cares for a horse's feet.
Horses, zebras and donkeys belong to the same genus, and hence can breed with one another! A cross between a horse and a zebra, is known as a zebroid
, or zorse
. To be more specific, the offspring of a stallion and female donkey is a hinny
, while the offspring of a mare and male donkey is a jack
. A cross between a donkey and zebra is known as a zedonk
A horse has two blind spots. One is located directly in front of them while the other is located directly behind.
Of all land-dwelling mammals, horses have the largest eyes, and since they are located on either side of its head, they have almost 360º vision! They can see different things with each eye!
Horses cannot sleep more than 3 hours per day. Even the three hours of sleep is not taken at a stretch. Rather, they sleep sporadically throughout the day in 10 - 15 minute spells.
Within a couple of hours after being born, a foal can stand and walk!
A year is added to a horse's birthday on January 1st (Northern Hemisphere) and on August 1st (southern hemisphere) irrespective of their actual birth date. Their actual birth date is considered only when they are going to be used for endurance riding.
Horses usually live for around 25 to 35 years. Some of them live for 40 years or more but these cases are not very common. Ponies live longer than horses.
In most cases, the foal (young horse) is born at night, away from danger and prying eyes.
Only two subspecies of horses have never been domesticated. They are Tarpan Horse
and Przewalski's Horse
. The first species is extinct, while the second is a rare species.
♞ Old Billy was the oldest recorded horse who lived to the ripe old age of 62!
♞ Falabella of Argentina, is the smallest breed of horses. They do not grow more than 30 inches in height.
♞ Little Pumpkin is the smallest pony in history - it stood high at 14 inches and weighed 20 lbs.
♞ Poe, a horse who lives in Ontario, Canada, is reported to be the tallest horse, measuring 20.2h at the withers! He stands almost 10 feet tall when he's holding his head high!
The horse industry is very important in America for various reasons. According to a study by Deloitte Consulting LLP for the American Horse Council Foundation done in 2005, 2 million Americans own a horse. The horse industry provides around 5 lac full-time job opportunities, with almost 8 lac employees (full-time and part-time). About 4.6 million people are a part of the horse industry (includes owners, full-time and part-time employees, service providers, and volunteers). The goods and services of the horse industry amount to around $40 billion and its impact on the U.S. GDP is more than a 100 billion US dollars! In terms of taxes, the horse industry pays almost $2 billion to the government! In a nutshell, horses are important - for various reasons. They are adorable creatures and should be taken care of, as they deserve it.