There are more than 300 different breeds of horse, and we love them all. These beautiful animals help our riders in our therapeutic riding program, but there are so many other things to love about the Equus caballus from their heads to their hoofs.
Did you know that horses have the largest eyes of any kind of land mammal? Their beautiful big eyes, which are located on the sides of their heads, help them to see almost 360 degrees at one time. That means that a horse can see nearly everything around itself, with the exception of a few blind spots directly in front of its face, underneath its head, and directly behind itself. But if horses can look all the way around themselves, how do you tell which way a horse is looking? Well, just look at its ears. Most of the time, wherever a horse's ear is pointing is where the horse is looking with its eye on the same side. If the ears are pointing in different directions, the horse is looking at two different things at the same time.
At one time, people thought horses were colorblind, but they’re not. Horses can see multiple colors, though they are better at seeing blues and greens than shades of red. They also have better night vision than we do, but it takes a horse's eyes longer to adjust from light to dark and from dark to light.
You might have known that all horses are grazers (that means that they eat grass), but did you know that their teeth take up a more space in their heads than their brain? That may seem like a lot of space, but horses have relatively small brains for their size. An average adult horse’s brain only weighs 22 oz. That’s about half the size of the brain of the average human.
You can figure out a few things by looking at a horse’s teeth—like gender. Male and female horses have a different number of teeth: males have 40 while females have 36 (but there are easier ways distinguish the males from the females). You can also tell how old a horse is by its teeth until it’s 9 years old. After that, a horse is known as "smooth mouthed" and it becomes almost impossible to tell its age by its teeth.
Horses use their facial features for more than just seeing and eating. Like humans, horses are expressive animals, and they can communicate what they’re feeling through their facial expressions. They use their ears, eyes and nostrils to express their mood. However, one of those expression is not a smile; horses that look like they are laughing, or smiling are actually just trying to get a better whiff of the air.
They’re also pretty talkative. Horses can make different sound to communicate to each other. When a horse senses that it’s in danger, it will make snorting sounds to alert other horses of the potential threat. Whinnying and neighing sounds are made when horses meet or leave each other, and Stallions (adult male horses) can make loud roars as mating calls.
A horse is an ungulate or a mammal with hooves. They have one hoof at the end of each leg, which makes them odd-toed ungulates, unlike cattle, which have two hooves at the end of each leg. The underside of a horse's hoof is a triangular shaped area called the "frog." This firm, rubbery part under the hoof yields to pressure, acting as a shock absorber for a horse's leg each time its hooves hit the ground. The “frog” also helps to pump blood back up the leg, allowing horses to gallop at an average speed of 25-30mph. That’s about as fast as the fastest man on Earth (Usain Bolt at 27.8mph). However, the fastest recorded sprinting speed of a horse is nearly twice that speed at 55 mph.
A horse’s body helps it to do some pretty incredible things, but there are so many more reasons to love horses. They can be kind, caring, and compassion creatures, able to form deep bonds with other horses and humans too. And as pretty as they are to look at, one of the best things about horses is the connection you build while riding them. There’s nothing like it. Come to Milestones and see all of the reasons we’ve fallen in love.
“30 Interesting Facts About Horses.” The Fact Site, 2 Apr. 2017, www.thefactsite.com/2016/06/horse-facts.html.
Heath, Brad. “45 Most Random, Amazing and Bizarre Facts about Horses.” Double D Trailers, www.doubledtrailers.com/45-random-amazing-bizarre-horse-facts/.
“Horse Facts and Trivia.” Illustrated Interesting Horse Facts, www.cowboyway.com/What/HorseFacts.htm.