We all know that horses are wondrous creatures – and each and everyone has their own unique set of characteristics. Here we’ve put together our fourteen top facts about horses, which serve as a great reminder of the heritage and magnificence of our four legged equine friends…
- Our first interesting fact about horses is that scientists believe that horses have evolved over the past 50 million years from much smaller creatures, and the only truly wild horse still in existence is the Przewalski horse, which resides in Mongolia. There are now around 400 different breeds of horses – all of which have their own individual strengths and are used for varying activities.
- Horses can be found in almost every country across the world and in every single continent except for Antarctica.
- The gestation period of a horse is around 11 months and a foal is able to stand within hours of birth. Foals are usually weaned around 1 year and are classed as mature between the ages of 3 – 5 years old.
- The oldest horse recorded was called Old Billy who lived to the age of 62 in the 19th century. In recent years, the world’s oldest horse is believed to have been Irish Draught Shayne, who was put to sleep at an Essex Sanctuary at the age of 51. The world’s oldest pony, Sugar Puff – who was a 10hh Shetland-Exmoor gelding, was put down at the age of 56 years old. The average age for a horse to live to is approximately 25 – 30 years old.
- Horses are amazing communicators and use their ears, eyes and nostrils to express their feelings and mood. This is why it is so important to take note of facial expressions when you are around a horse to monitor whether they are feeling comfortable and secure in the current situation and environment. They communicate with other horses using different vocalisations such as whinnying.
- Horses can sleep standing up or lying down, however in a herd, or group of horses you will rarely see them all lying down at once – this is because as flight animals at least one of them will be on the ‘lookout’ for potential danger.
- One of the reasons that horse’s have been known to kick, and it is always said to never walk behind them. This is a well known fact about horses and is because while they have nearly 360 degree vision their blind spot is directly behind and in front of them so if they feel vulnerable or protective and they can’t see you there is a greater risk of them kicking out.
- It is said that horses have the largest eyes of any land animal, in fact in volume they are up to nine times larger than that of a human.
- A recent study done by psychologists at Sussex University has shown that horses are able to distinguish between positive and negative facial expressions. Apparently the reaction to angry facial expressions was the clearest with an increase in the horse’s heart rate. Your can read more about this interesting horse fact and full article here (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/feb/10/horses-can-recognise-human-emotion-new-study-shows)
- Adult male horses usually have around 40 teeth, while mares have around 36 – it is said that their teeth take up more space in their head than their brain does. On the subject of brains, the horse’s brain is approximately half the weight of a human’s brain. And, apparently horses produce approximately 10 gallons of saliva a day!
- When we see a horse curling it’s top lip – as if they were smiling – it is actually a special technique called flehmen which helps them determine whether a smell is good or bad. By pulling the strange face, a horse can direct scents towards the olfactory glands that are at the end of the nasal passage. It’s a well-known fact about horses that they will often do this in new situations and when meeting other equines.
- The official FEI record for the highest jump that a horse has cleared is 2.47m – or 8ft 1.25 inches! This was by a horse called Huaso ex-Faithful, ridden by Capt. Alberto Larraguibel Morales on the 5th February 1949. Nick Skelton set the British high jump record of 2.32 metres in 1978! You can see the video here. https://youtu.be/j8_6nFedV6o
- It takes around 9 – 12 months to grow a whole horse hoof – and the structure of the horse’s hoof is made with keratin – which is the same protein that makes up our nails and hair.
- And finally, our last horse fact! There is such thing as a zonky and a zony! A zonky is a cross between a zebra and a donkey, and a zony is… you guessed it… a cross between a zebra and a pony!
Do you have any amazing facts about horses you want to add to this list? Share them with us on Facebook or in the comments below!