Horses are arguably one of the most beautiful and fascinating creatures on the planet. Here are some fun facts you may not know about those interesting equines.1) There are more than 350 different breeds of horses and ponies in the world.
2) When horses smell something interesting, they often curl their upper lips in a comical manner. Stallions might also do this when they smell a mare in heat. This behavior is known as the flehmen response.
3) Horses are said to have evolved from a primitive species called the eohippus. This creature had four toes instead of hooves, and the modern horses still have some remnants of the extra toes. The knob-like growths on the inside of a horse’s legs (called chestnuts) are one such example. Ergots, or horny growths underneath the fetlock joint, can also be found on modern horses.
4) Horse’s hooves are made of keratin, the same substance our fingernails and toenails are made of. Like our nails, horse hooves continue to grow constantly and must be trimmed.
5) Horse teeth also continue to grow throughout the life of the animal. Teeth must be filed down, or “floated” by an equine veterinarian to prevent pain caused by sharp points.
6) Arabian horses usually have less ribs and tail vertebrae than other breeds. Typically horses have 18 ribs and 18 tail vertebrae, while Arabians have 17 ribs and 16 tail vertebrae.
7) The Thoroughbred can be traced back to three original founding stallions. They are known as the Godolphin Arabian, the Byerly Turk, and the Darley Arabian. Every purebred Thoroughbred is related to one of these original sires.
8) Horses are usually physically incapable of vomiting.
9) Mules are bred by crossing a male donkey with a female horse. If a male horse is crossed with a female donkey, the resulting offspring is known as a hinny. Mules and hinnies are usually sterile and cannot produce offspring.
10) Horses are measured from the top of their withers, or shoulders, in four-inch increments known as hands. Originally, this measurement is supposed to have been based on the width of a human hand.
11) Horses see independently with each eye, meaning they see two separate images at any given time rather than one image joined together. Because their eyes are on the sides of their heads, horses can also see almost 360 degrees around them.
12) The fastest Kentucky Derby ever was won by Secretariat, who completed the mile and a quarter race in 1 minute, 59 and 2/5 of a second. The legendary racehorse broke the track record and went on to win the much coveted Triple Crown.
13) The American Quarter Horse was named for the short distance it was bred to race. This breed can reach speeds of up to 55 miles per hour over a quarter mile.
14) Most horses live to be around 20-30 years of age. The oldest horse to ever live was named Old Billy, and he died at the ripe old age of 62.
15) Today’s horse breeds come from all over the world. Breeds that originated in the United States include the American Quarter Horse, the American Standardbred, the American Saddlebred, the American Paint Horse, the Morgan, and the Appaloosa. The American Quarter Horse is the most popular breed in the United States today.
16) Every registered racing Thoroughbred has a tattoo, used for identification purposes, which can be found on the underside of the upper lip.
17) The famous ‘60s TV horse, Mr. Ed, was played by a palomino named Bamboo Harvester.
18) Most horses only sleep for about 3 hours each day, and most adult horses sleep standing up.
19) The Morgan horse was named after Justin Morgan, who owned the breed’s single founding stallion, a small but hardy horse known as Figure.
20) George Washington was a lover of horses. He even referred to some of his mounts in historical writings.
21) The world’s smallest horse is named Thumbelina, who as an adult stands just 17 inches tall, about as tall as a medium sized dog.
22) The tallest living horse is a Belgian named Big Jake. He stands at 20 hands, 2.75 inches.
23) Baby horses are called foals. A female foal is called a filly, while a male foal is called a colt. Horses are generally considered colts or fillies until they reach 4 years of age.
24) The world record for the highest jump by a horse and rider belongs to Captain Alberton Larraguibel Morales and his horse, Huaso, who cleared a jump that stood 8 feet, 1 and ¼ inches.
25) As prey animals, it is natural for horses to flee from danger, but if they cannot get away, they will fight.
As you can see, there is so much to learn about the horse. Find more information on the links listed to discover even more about our intriguing equine friends.