50 Interesting facts About Horses

  1. The horse is a one-toed, hoofed mammal. Its closest relatives are donkeys and zebras.
  2. Most of the horses are domesticated. However, there are feral and wild horses as well.
  3. The only truly wild horse breed that survived today is Przewalski’s horse. Approximately 2,000 of these horses now exist. The highest number is in Mongolia (where it is called takhi), while smaller populations are present in Kazakhstan, Russia, and China. (Source)
  4. Apart from wild horses, there is a large population of feral horses in various parts of the world. These horses were domesticated earlier but later left in the wild. Their highest population is in Australia. (Source)
  5. The initial horse-like mammal appeared on earth around 50 million years ago. The era of the ancestor of modern equines (horses, asses, and zebras) was nearly 4 million years ago.
  6. The domestication of horses started around 6,000 years ago in the steppe area between modern-day Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
  7. In 2019, archaeologists unearthed a grave of a Celtic warrior with the remains of two horses and their chariot. Graves with chariots and horses have already been discovered in Bulgaria, Georgia, and France. (Source)
  8. Horses have the smallest stomach per body size of all domestic animals, while their calorie requirement is high. Due to these factors, they need small and frequent meals throughout the day.
  9. Horses can sleep standing up and lying down. They achieve REM sleep (deep sleep) while lying down. They sleep in a lying position for nearly three hours a day in several short intervals. They only lie down in the absence of any danger.
  10. There are three types of horses according to their size, temperament, and uses. Hot-blooded horses are energetic, quick, and lightweight. The second type is cold-blooded, which is heavier, slower, and calmer. Warm-blooded horses are born with crossbreeding between hot-blooded and cold-blooded horses. 
    Three horses in a field
    Horses are divided according to varying body type and other traits

  11. There are more than 200 breeds of horses. They have unique features, making them appropriate for different tasks. These animals are effective in racing, agriculture, sports, therapy, draft animals, and other purposes.
  12. The average lifespan for horses is from 25 to 30 years. However, some horses can live for 50 to 60 years.
  13. The oldest horse lived for 62 years. This horse from the UK died in 1822. The oldest thoroughbred racehorse was from Australia and lived for 42 years. (Source)
  14. The tallest and heaviest horse ever recorded was a shire gelding in the UK. It was 86.5 inches tall and attained a weight of 1,524 kg. (Source)
  15. The shortest horse ever was named Thumbelina. This mare was 17 inches tall and died in 2018 in the USA. The tiniest living horse is Bombel, with a height of 22 inches. (Source)
  16. Horses were initially used in warfare in 1500 BC to pull chariots. Fighting battles on horseback started around 900 BC. Their extensive use in military conflicts continued until the invention of modern vehicles in the 20th Century.
  17. Pregnant Mare Urine (PMU) is a vital ingredient in several drugs related to Hormone Replacement Therapy. The collection of urine from pregnant mares continues for 160 to 180 days.
  18. Different horse breeds are known as ponies. They are famous for their small size, endurance, and mildness. Ponies are handy as pack animals and riding for children. The most popular pony breeds include Shetland, Welsh Cob, and Dartmoor ponies.
  19. Despite having a similar smaller sizes, ponies and miniature horses have several visible differences. Ponies are heavily built, with thicker legs, necks, and coats. These are useful on farms and ranches, while miniature horses are usually helpful as therapy animals or pets.
  20. Horses have an excellent sense of smell. Compared to around six million olfactory receptors in humans, horses have nearly 300 million of these receptors.
  21. Compared to 206 bones in adult humans, horses have 205 bones. Unlike humans, they do not have collarbones.  
  22. There are 24 vertebrae in almost all horse breeds except Arabian horses. This relatively smaller horse has 23 vertebrae.
  23. Horses are herbivores, grazing mammals. Their recommended diet includes pasture grass, hay, oats, and salt. Wheat, fruits, vegetables, bran, and meat are unsuitable for horses.
  24. Horses are one of the few mammals that cannot vomit. It is primarily due to the strong lower esophageal sphincter muscles.
  25. The corpora nigra on the horse’s pupil protects its eyes from glare.
  26. Horses have good day and night vision due to the many rods and cones. However, they cannot see red and its shades, and their depth perception is limited. The large size and sideways position of the eyes give them a wide visual angle.
  27. Monocular vision assists horses in using both eyes independently.
  28. Horses have ten muscles in each ear, assisting rotate them 180 degrees independently. Their hearing range for both higher and lower frequencies is better than that of humans.
  29. Studies have proved that classical music reduces stress in horses, while instrumental guitar music also produces a positive effect on these mammals.
  30. The number and shape of teeth assist in determining the age of a horse. Adult male horses have more teeth than mares. 
    A soldier checking the teeth of a horse
    The number of teeth in male and female horses is different

  31. The muzzle, neck, shoulders, withers, and coronets are the most sensitive parts of a horse.
  32. Walk, trot, canter, ad gallop are the four basic gaits of horses. A British photographer discovered these gaits of different speeds in the 1870s.
  33. Feral horses adopt the behavior of their wild ancestors after leaving the domesticated state. They live in family groups led by a stallion, including mares and foals. This group persists even in the absence of the stallion. Other stallions can form bachelor groups. (Source)
  34. Horses sometimes develop unwanted behavior, known as “stable vices.” It happens due to a lack of activity, loneliness, and a diet deficient in necessary nutrients. These vices include weaving, headshaking, wood chewing, bucking, windsucking, etc.
  35. According to estimates, there are around 58 million horses in the world. The highest population is in the USA, with nearly 10 million horses. China, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina also have large horse populations.
  36. A horse can survive without food for up to 25 days and water for six days. Water deprivation for two days can cause colic and other life-threatening problems in horses. (Source)
  37. Horses only use their nostrils while breathing. Breathing from the mouth only happens in case of suppression of nasal breathing.
  38. The fastest recorded speed by a racehorse is nearly 44 mph. This record was set by a thoroughbred mare in 2008. (Source)
  39. The gestation period for a mare is 11 months. The foal can stand and walk within two hours of birth. On most occasions, foals are born at night.
  40. Horses have different names according to gender, age, and other features. The popular ones include foal (a newborn horse), colt (a male horse up to three years), filly (a female horse up to three years), stallion (an adult male), mare (an adult female), and gelding (a castrated male horse).
  41. Horses with white skin are at more risk of getting sunburn. The most sensitive area for sunburn is a horse’s nose.
  42. The earliest horses in North America are 4 million years old. However, horses and other large mammals vanished from the continent around 10,000 years ago. The Spanish reintroduced horses in North America in the late 1400s. Now the USA has the highest number of horse breeds in the world. (Source)
  43. Horses are not native to Australia. The initial batch arrived here in 1788. Horseracing was one of the first organized sports in Australia. (Source)
  44. The most expensive horse sold for $72m in 2000. The top three most costly horses belong to the thoroughbred breed. (Source)
  45. Mongol Derby in Mongolia is the longest horse race in the world. The horses have to complete a 1,000 km distance during this competition. (Source)
  46. The record for the highest jump by a horse was established in 1949 in Chile. This jump was 2.47 m (97.25 in) high. (Source)
  47. Gypsy Vanner, a horse breed from the UK and Ireland, is famous for its growth of mustaches. These are among the horses with the most hair on their body. (Source)
  48. Horses can mate with donkeys and zebras to produce hybrids.
  49. Hooves in horses grow continuously throughout their lives. Therefore, trimming is necessary every 6 to 12 months, according to the season. 
  50. Horses played a vital role in establishing the Mongol Empire. The Mongols used them in battles, to cover long distances, and drink their blood during scarcity of food.

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