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Welcome to the Equestrian Outreach General Information Page
Infraclass: Eutheria (mammals having a placenta; all mammals except monotremes and marsupials)
Order: Perissodactyla (nonruminant ungulates: horses; tapirs; rhinoceros; extinct forms of same)
Family: Equidae (horses; asses; zebras; extinct animals)
Common Used Name: Horse, Equine or Equid
Scientific Name: Equus Caballus.
General Equine Facts:
- The family of horses is called Equidae which comes from the Latin word for horse, equus.
- The best known wild member of the horse family is the zebra.
- Another truly wild beast belonging to the horse family is the Wild Ass of Asia.
- This family also includes both the donkey and the mule.
- The nearest horse relatives are the rhinoceroses and the tapirs, both of which are odd toed creatures.
- Horses are used for a wide variety of sports such as racing, showing, and competitions such as barrel racing, dressage, hunter, rodeo, show jumping and polo.
- There are approximately 75 million horses alive today.
- Horses have hair like humans, not fur.
- Horses do not get fleas. Many horse owners employ used horse blankets on the beads of their dogs and cats to combat fleas.
- Horses are social animals and will quickly become ferial and run in herds of hundreds when released to nature.
- The term "Wild Horses" is misleading. All "wild' horses and ponies (Equus ferus) including 'wild' Mustangs in the western United States are ferial with two exceptions:
(1) Przewalski's Horse (Equus ferus przewalskii or Equus przewalskii), the only true wild horse alive today.
(2) The Tarpan (Equus ferus ferus), which became extinct in the late 19th century, the tarpan is the only other undomesticated horse surviving into historical times.
- In nature, horses generally breed every other year.
- Foals are usually born in the spring after being carried inside the female for 11 months.
- A foal is born with its eyes open and is able to stand unsupported within a few minutes of birth.
- These young are born with milk teeth which later are replaced with permanent teeth.
- These teeth grow throughout their lifetime, but are worn down with grazing.
- Horses are grazers and usually eat grasses and various grains and leaves, however they will eat a variety of different plant matter like buds and blossoms and they are especially fond of sweet flavors such as that of the apple. (Click here for more information)
- Horses are considered old at 20, but some live as long as 30 or 40 years. The oldest known horse lived to be 50 years old.
- A Thoroughbred is a purebred horse, but other purebred breeds are not thorough bred.
- Tail hairs of a horse are used to create bows for cellos and violins.
Historic Equine Facts - (Click here for more historic information)
- Horses were some of the earliest mammals.
- The origin of the horse dates back to the Eocene period, 60 million years ago.
- By the Pleistocene period about 1 million years ago, the modern horse had developed.
- The horse has played an important role in human history.
- Humans and horses have shared a very long and special history.
- During the stone age horses were a source of food eaten for their meat. (Click here for more historic information)
- Horses were first domesticated and tamed about 4,500 years ago.
- It's been suggested that man has relied on horses since 4000-3500 BCE.
- Horses were used for riding, for delivering mail and messages, for hunts, and for battle; for hauling, such as pulling loads, carrying packs, or pulling plows; and for herding other animals such as cattle.
- Only recently (within the past 75 years) have we stopped relying on them as our main mode of transportation.
- The speed and endurance of Arabian horses allowed Muslims to establish a great empire sweeping over Africa and Spain.
- It wasn’t until 732 AD when the Muslims advanced into France that their swift light horses were overpowered by France’s armored knights mounted on huge, heavier breeds.
- In the 13th century, horses allowed Genghis Khan’s Mongol calvary to sweep north east to conquer much of Russia.
Anatomical Equine Facts - (Click here for more anatomical information)
- The height of a horse is measured using hands. (One hand = 4 inches or 10.16 centimeters)
- The horse has a sharp sense of hearing, direction and smell.
- A horse's ears can aim forward, to the side, or back to catch sound.
- Their eyes are larger than the eyes of any other living animal except the whale and the ostrich.
- With these large eyes, one placed on each side of their head, they are able to see objects well at quite a distance and detect movement from almost any direction.
- The horses skin is very sensitive and responds to the slightest touch (Dressage employs this fact in it's riding aids). (Click here for more riding information)
- Horses have hair like humans, not fur like other animals.
- Horses are the only animal that has only one functional toe.
- Horses are one of the relatively few mammals that sweat.
- Members of the horse family are the only animals in the world that have just one working toe on each foot.
- This toe is protected by a hard, horny hoof.
- Horses have about 175 bones in their body.
- Most horse breeds have 18 ribs.
- Most horses have 6 lumbar bones.
- Most horses have 18 tail vertebrae.
- A horse's hoof grows at a rate of about 1 cm per month.
- A full grown horse that weighs between 1,000 and 2,000 pounds.
- A full grown horse contains approximately 14 gallons of blood.
- Horses can drink up to ten gallons of water a day.
- Horses can see in two directions at once (Monocular and Binocular vision).
- Horses can see everywhere, except directly in front or behind them.
- Horses make 8 basic sounds- snort, squeal, greeting nicker, courtship nicker, maternal nicker, neigh, roar, blow. (Click here for more information)
- Horses are not fully mature until age 5.
- Miniature Horses are actual horses not ponys. (Click here for more information)
- Horses' bodies are built for speed with powerful leg and rump muscles, long slender legs, and large lungs.
Equine Breed Information - (Click here for more information)
- There are over 300 breeds of horses in the world today.
- Horses are bred for speed, endurance, strength, color, size and even the shape of their head.
- The term "A horse of a different color" which is now widely used to mean something strange or questionable stems from horse breeding. In breeding a horse whose coloration was different than others of its kind implied crossbreeding or impurities in the breeding stock.
- Horses breeds are any breed over 15 hands. (One hand = 4 inches or 10.16 centimeters)
- Pony breeds are under 15 hands.
- Draft Horse breeds come in all sizes. They are heavy, powerfully muscled work horses.
- The oldest pure bred horse is the Arabian horse which was bred for riding and warfare and are known for their ability to resist heat, hunger,thirst and their fiery personalities.
- The Morgan horse, developed in Vermont , is used as a saddle horse and was often an Army or police mount.
- The Palomino is not a specific breed of horse. Palomino refers to a horse's color, which is predominately golden with shades of chestnut or sorrel. Their manes and tails are also flaxen, or a near white.
- The Shire horse is the largest of all horses. It stands 17 hands high (sixty-eight inches) and weighs 2,200 - 2,400 pounds.
- England's King; Henry VIII Henry Tudor (1509-1547) had all the horses less than 15 hands high destroyed because he felt they ate too much in proportion to the amount of work they performed. This is probably how the Shire horse got its start. (Click here for more information)
- The Clydesdale horse is a draft or work horse (also referred to as a cold blood) weighs close to a ton.
- Shetland ponies, despite their small size, were also bred for work and for many years in England they worked in the coal mines and were prized for their endurance.
- Thoroughbreds that are born in the Northern Hemisphere technically become a year older on 1 January each year, those born in the Southern Hemisphere turn one year older on 1 August. These artificial dates have been set to enable the standardization of races and other competitions for horses in certain age groups.
- Thoroughbreds are the only breed which has a closed registry and live cover.
- One of the most famous Thoroughbreds was Man o’ War who during racing could run one quarter of a mile in 21 seconds.
Equine Behavior Information - (Click here for more information)
- Horses also use many body parts for communication.
- Horses use their voices to communicate.
- Horses can generally signal a variety of emotions and ideas with body language.
- Arching their necks, showing their teeth, rearing up, widening their eyes, and other body movements signal to other horses and animals what an individual horse is thinking.
- Feral stallions usually form herds of mares which roam 20 square miles (30 sq. km.) of land.
- Stallions will fight to keep his mares and may also challenge other lead stallions for the opponents females.
- Although fighting injuries are common, fighting deaths are rare.
- Those males which do not have a herd of mares will sometimes band together in "bachelor bands".
- A horse has three defense techniques:
- 1. Running
2. Striking out and or trampling with their hooves
- Generally a horse will run and will only turn to fight if cornered.
Mustangs Wild and Feral Horse Information - (Click here for more information)
- The only true wild horse left in the world today is Przewalski’s Horse or the Tarpan, which originated in Mongolia and Eastern Turkestan;' this horse which survives in captivity mostly in zoos may now be extinct in the world.
- The Przewalski’s Horse and the Tarpan are small bodied horses; each with a large head. They represent an intermediate breed between a horse and an ass and they stand 4’ / 155 cm, tall at the shoulder and have a red brown coat in summer which grows longer and lighter in color in the winter.
- Most horses which run free today have descended from domesticated stock which escaped. These animals are labeled "feral". Bands of feral horses once roamed the western United States.
- Most feral horses descended from Spanish stock and are referred to as mustangs, which comes from the Spanish word mesteno meaning strayed or wild.
- In the early 1800’s, there were perhaps 1 to 2 million mustangs roaming the western plains and deserts.
- They were so numerous that many maps of the time labeled these areas "Wild Horse Desert".
- Later these mustangs were hunted for dog food, but by 1971 feral horses roaming public land were protected by federal law.
- These bands of feral horses have since reestablished themselves and are considered pests by many ranchers.