We love horses here at Ride-away, and we’re sure you do too, but there are a lot of things which you might not have known about these beautiful creatures, all of which make them all the more fascinating!
They can move their skin without moving their muscles
Horses are the only animal on the planet able to do this, and you might see an example of this when they twitch to get flies to leave them alone!
They have the biggest eyes of any land mammal
This is apparently to give them the best vision possible when running at speed, stopping them from running into obstacles when moving quickly.
They produce ten gallons of saliva a day
While excessive salivation could be a sign of various health issues, it’s usually fairly normal!
They can rotate their ears 180 degrees
This is because they have 16 tiny muscles called the ‘auricular muscles’.
They have a number of genetic hybrids
For example, did you know that you can get a ‘Zorse’ (horse and zebra), ‘Hinny’ (male horse and donkey) or the more commonly known Mule (female horse and donkey).
They can run a few hours after birth
This is all the more impressive when you consider that it takes humans as long as 18 months to take even their first steps!
They have insulating layers of fur
Horses can use their many layers of fur to create insulating pockets of air which they use to keep themselves warm during the colder months.
They can get sunburn
Horses with pink skin can catch sunburn during the summer if they’re out in the sun for too long, so make sure to keep an eye out for this!
Their hooves take a long time to regrow
If a horse damages its hoof it can take between nine and twelve months to grow back fully.
There are strict rules on racehorse names
It might seem like racehorse names are plucked out of nowhere, and there are certainly some strange ones out there, but there’s an extensive amount of rules when it comes to registering a name.
They have a heavy heart (literally!)
A horse’s heart can weigh as much as eight or nine pounds and can pump out a quart of blood with each pump.
They can sleep standing up
While it’s pretty cool that horses can sleep while stood up, they have to lie down to get REM sleep (deep and restorative sleep).
They’re teeth take up more space than their brain
Thankfully this is a reflection of how big their teeth are, not how small their brains are!
They can jump very high
The highest recorded jump by a horse is 2.79 metres (8 feet, 1.25 inches) and was set in Chile in the 1940s by Huaso ex-Faithful, ridden by a Captain Alberto Larraguibel Morales.
You can see a video of the impressive jump at the Guinness World Records website.
They can express their mood through facial expressions
Horses apparently have as many as 17 different facial expressions, which is three more than chimpanzees, according to this Guardian article.
They can’t breathe through their mouths
Instead, horses simply breathe through their nostrils, so be sure that these are never obstructed.
They can do yoga
Believe it or not, at the Doma India School in San Luis, Argentina, they teach horses how to do yoga!
It’s claimed to help to tame the horses and earn their trust and loyalty.
There are more horses in Mongolia than people
There are an estimated 2.5 million horses in Mongolia to around 1.5 million people!
They prefer sweet flavours
Generally, horses will reject anything sour or bitter, and prefer treats such as carrots, apples and oats.
Their teeth never stop growing
Horses’ teeth are gradually worn down a lot over time by all of the rough grass which they eat, so they need to be constantly re-growing.
They can’t vomit
Horses actually physically can’t vomit, and if they’re overfed, they’re more likely to suffer a stomach rupture instead.
Ponies live longer than horses
Ponies can live well into their 50s, while horses’ lifespans are usually between 15 and 40 years old.
They have great memories
Horses have great long term memories and can remember humans who treated them well, even after a long time of not seeing them.
However, on the flip side, the same applies to places where they’ve been spooked.
The oldest ever horse lived to be 62
‘Old Billy’ died on November 27, 1822, near Manchester, at the ripe old age of 62.
They cannot get frostbite on their legs
No matter how cold it gets, horses’ legs have a protective mechanism which prevents them from getting frostbite, meaning that they can feasibly stand in icy water or snow for long periods of time without a problem.
Their intestines are incredibly long
The intestines of a fully grown horse will measure out as much as 89 feet long.
They have a heightened sense of touch
This is how they know instantly when a fly lands on their backs.
They’ve been around for thousands of years
Horses have been seen in cave paintings which date back as far as 15,000 B.C.
A fear of horses is known as ‘hippophobia’
This is because the hippopotamus actually gets its name from the Greek words ‘hippo’ (meaning horse) and ‘potamos’ (meaning river).
Ragweed is the toxic plant which causes the most horse deaths
While bracken fern, hemlock, tansy ragwort and Sudan grass are all toxic to horses, it’s ragweed which the biggest killer of horses.
They have seven blood types
These are A, C, D, K, P, Q and U. There is also the T blood type but this is not internationally recognised.
The smallest horse in the world is just 17 inches tall
The aptly named Thumbelina is a dwarf miniature horse and weighs just 57lb.
It’s been suggested that the Roman Emperor Caligula appointed a horse as a senator
While it might seem that Caligula was a bit mad, it’s suggested that he did so as a form of satire, to mock the senate!
The average horse can achieve around 14.9 horsepower
The concept of horsepower was popularised in the 18th century, although horse it’s debatable how closely the unit of measurement relates to actual horses!
McDonald’s refuse to serve people on horseback
This is because horses could easily become frightened in the enclosed space, with other distractions such as speakers and lights. Just don’t try and take your horse in through the door…
Police horses have been around since the 17th century
While other modes of transport such as motorcycles have replaced police horses in many ways, they still have their uses, especially in controlling big crowds.
Horsemeat is considered a delicacy in some countries
While we’ve all seen the recent scandals surrounding horsemeat, it’s actually a delicacy in many countries, particularly France, and in fact, it’s only really the UK and US that have a big aversion to it.
They aren’t colour blind
This is a popular misconception, and while horses aren’t totally colour blind, they do find it easier to see yellows and greens, and harder to see purples and violets.
Males have more teeth than females
The average male horse has 40 teeth, while a female will have 36.
Their hooves are made of the same stuff as human hair and nails
Horse hooves are made of the protein keratin, which is incredibly tough and is also seen the horns, scales and claws of other animals.
There’s only one truly wild species left
The Przewalski’s horse is a rare and endangered species which is native to central Asia.
They drink at least 25 gallons of water a day
This could be even more in hotter countries!
They don’t ‘laugh’
While it might appear that horses are sometimes grinning or laughing, this is actually a special nose-enhancing technique known as ‘flehmen’, to help them determine if a smell is good or bad.
When galloping, all four of a horse’s hooves leave the floor at some point
This was proved as part of a bet by Eadweard Muybridge in 1872, using a series of 24 cameras.
The fastest racehorse recorded a speed of 43.97 mph
Winning Brew set a record speed over two furlongs at the Penn National Race Course in the US in 2008.
They rarely lie down simultaneously in the wild
This is so that one can act as a look out, and alert companions to any potential dangers.
Their vocalisations all have meanings
For example, horses will whinny or neigh when they meet each other, and stallions will perform a loud roar as a mating call.
They can see better at night than humans
However, it does take a horse’s eyes longer to adjust from light to dark and vice versa than a human.
Their ears usually point in the direction that they’re looking in
If their ears are facing in different directions, then they’re probably looking at two things at once!
They have a triangular area called a ‘frog’ under their hooves
This is used as a shock absorber, and also to pump blood back up the leg.
The length of a foal’s legs indicates their future height
This is because their legs are already at around 80-90% of their mature length.
You can tell a horse’s temperature by touching their ears
If a horse’s ears are cold, then they probably are too!
They have been known to mourn the loss of partners
This could be either fellow horses or humans and shows how social horses are, as well as how good their memories are.
They were first domesticated in Mongolia
The first horses were domesticated in Mongolia back in approximately 3,500 B.C.
You can tell if they’re dehydrated by pinching their skin
If the skin seems to take a long time to return to its original state, it could mean that they’re dehydrated!
As you can see, there’s a lot more to our favourite animals than meets the eye, with some weird and wonderful facts out there and even us horse lovers are always learning something new about these majestic creatures.