Did you know that horses have lived on our planet for more than 50 million years? This only proves that humans and horses have an ancient relationship. According to National Geographic, Asian nomads domesticated the first horses 4,000 years ago, and the rest is history.
Horses have truly shaped human history and they have captured our hearts. In ancient times, horses were used mostly for milk and meat. They’re also used for trade and as a form of animal transportation. Today, they still play an essential role in our daily lives, whether it’s for work, entertainment or as our loyal companions.
There’s no doubt horses are such fascinating creatures, but there are still plenty of things you probably didn't know about them. Below are some surprising facts you need to know about man’s ‘other best friend.’
- Horses can run within hours after birth! Foals can stand within 2 to 6 hours after birth and can gallop within 24 hours.
- Horses can sleep both lying down and standing up.
- You can estimate a horse’s age by its teeth. Equisearch says that a young horse's age is determined by which teeth are present. After they turn 5, the only way to determine age is by wear and the shape and slope of the incisors. Galvayne's Groove becomes critical in determining the age of horses teeth after 5.
- Horses can’t burp and vomit. Horses do not have a gag reflex and according to Equus Magazine, “the muscles of the equine lower esophageal sphincter are much stronger than in other animals, making it nearly impossible to open that valve under backward pressure from the stomach.”
- Horses use their ears, eyes and nostrils to express their mood. Don’t we all know that!!
- Horses have a sweet tooth. They like sweet flavours and will usually reject anything sour or bitter.
- When they sleep standing, horses lock their legs to avoid collapsing. This is called the stay apparatus.
- Most of the time, if your horse’s ears are pointing in different directions, they are actually looking at two different things at the same time.
- Horses produce approximately 9 to 11 gallons (35 to 40 litres) of saliva each day.
- Horse height is measured in units known as "hands" or four-inch increments. This measurement originated in ancient Egypt. So if your horse is 64 inches from the ground up to the top, it’s 16 hands high or 16 hh.
- If a horse has a red ribbon on its tail, be careful because it kicks. A blue ribbon on the other hand indicates the horse is a stallion or entire.
- Horses are very social animals. They often get lonely if kept alone, and they will mourn the passing of a companion.
- Want to know if a horse is feeling cold? Check their ears. If that area is cold, so is the horse. Shivering is also the obvious answer.
- A zebroid is a cross between a zebra and any other member of the family Equidae. A cross between a zebra and a donkey is called a zonkey, while a zony is a cross between a zebra and a pony.Image from Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
- Horses can hear and smell better than humans. Their ears can turn in different directions to aid their hearing.
- Equines with pink skin can quickly get a sunburn.
- Horses’ eyes are bigger than those of any other mammals. The fact that they are also located on the side of their heads means they can almost see over 300 degrees. They have a blind spot right in front of their nose and directly behind their rump. Horses actually jump from memory, as they cannot see the jump when it is directly in front of them.
- Horses' brains only weigh around 22 ounces (600-700 grams).
- It takes 9-12 months to re-grow an entire horse hoof. However, a barefoot horse in full endurance training can regrow the hoof in just over 5 months (maximum blood flow equals maximum growth).
- The Przewalski’s horse is the only wild horse species still in existence. The last wild Przewalski was seen in Mongolia in 1968.
- Arabian horses have one less vertebra compared to other breeds. They have greater bone density, have one fewer pair of ribs. However, nature can throw various variations of this.
- Horses’ hearts are quite large. It’s approximately 1% of its body weight. So a standard 1,000-pound horse has a heart weighing a whopping 10 pounds which is 4.5kg.
- Most horses gallop around 44-65 kph or 27 mph, but the fastest recorded sprinting speed of a horse was 88 kph (55mph) for a quarter horse!
- Old Billy, the oldest domestic horse on record, lived for 62 years.
- The first cloned horse, Prometea, was “created in the lab by fusing an adult skin cell and an empty egg from a female horse, then returning the resulting embryo to the female's womb after a few days.”
Image from Globe Trotting
- Horses’ knee joints are equivalent to a human wrist and their hock joints are comparable to our ankles.
- Horses are not entirely colour-blind. They can see the difference between blue and grey, yellow and grey, and green and grey.