Last updated on September 20th, 2017
For over 50 million years, horses have been around men. And in that time, they have developed many interesting features and quirks to their anatomy. The interesting pet began its history in the Northern America and later spread throughout Europe and Asia thanks to the land bridge. While they continued to die in the northern America, these animals highly thrived in Central Asia and the Eastern Europe and continued to evolve to their current landscape.
Even though horses have been around men for a long time and they are not showing any sign of going away, many people only see them on television. This is a shame because the animals are worthy all the attention we can give them. In this article, you will learn many fascinating facts about the many horse species around the globe.
Interesting facts about horses
#1. Horse names
If you have been to horse races, then perhaps you know that many horses have ridiculous names. People give their dogs and cats cute, very powerful and human like names, but for horses they try to come up with very funny names such as Horlicks, Seabiscuit and Ohnoitsmymotherinlaw.
As a matter of fact, there are very many superstitions and traditions associated with horse naming. There are breeders who come up with names to respect their pedigree which leads to many variations over time. And after all, this never takes several generations to twist Binky into Flunky.People typically avoid naming their horses after family members because they can name a horse after their mother or father and later it turns out to be a failure.
There are people who prefer powerful names such as “man of war” because they believe that this can bring their horse good fortune. “The Winner” is a sure way of creating a horse that will never win any race and therefore most owners try to have fun with this name.
Naturally, there are many rules which govern the naming of horses and the rules vary from place to place. For example, Louisville Jockey Club limits the name lengths to 18 characters, forbids racist names, obscene names and names that are very similar to those of competing horses. And they also forbid names entirely made of numbers. And if any horse gets famous enough, they may pull its name from use.
#2. Horses laugh
Possibly, you have witnessed a horse making strange expressions by curling its upper lip and baring its teeth into a broad grin. By doing this, a horse appears to be laughing. But in reality, this is simply part of special nose-enhancing technique known as flehmen response. Horses pull the amusing face as a way of directing all the scents floating in the air towards special olfactory glands located at the end of their nasal passage.
The slight tilting and lip-curling of their head assist them to waft the smells towards these glands. So whenever you see a horse doing this, you should know that it’s not laughing at you. The horse does this to determine whether you smell bad or not. And the flehmen response is usually more common in the male horses than in the female horses. More like giraffes, stallions sample urine of mares in this manner to determine whether they are on heat.
#3. The horse eyes
Due to their exceedingly peculiar eyes, horses have greater eyesight. Their eyes whose diameter is roughly 2 inches (5cm) are the largest amongst all land mammals. And when considering the volume, horse eyes are nine times larger than those of man. There is a legend which explains that horses see things being bigger than man and this is why they startle easily (this may not be true).
Their eyes have three eyelids (two ordinary ones and the third known as nictitating membrane). The nictitating membrane is situated in the eye inner corner and it sweeps the eye, lubricates and clean it when need arises. A horse cannot focus clearly like men do. And instead, the lower parts of their retina are able to see objects at a distance while the upper ones are for closer objects. This means that to know where a horse is looking, you should focus on the way it is holding its head. Whenever you see a horse standing and holding its head up and its ears pricked forward, know that it’s not just snowboarding; it is focusing on something fascinating at a distance.
#4. Horse shoes
Most likely you know that people fit their horses with horseshoes, but what you may not know is that the purpose of these shoes is not only to protect the hooves. The hard parts of their hooves are usually made of keratin (or the sturdy protein which comprise horns, hair and nails) and therefore when it comes to things such as traction, they leave lots to be desired. Just imagine yourself running around a very wet, paved street when wearing horns as shoes. Possibly, you can see the problems you are likely to face.
Fitting the hooves with shoes solves the problem. Horseshoes improves the hoof traction and offers extra shock absorption same as your running shoes. Horse shoes also share many features with sports shoes and are available in several different types such as natural balance shoes, pronation correcting support shoes and super lightweight aluminum shoes for the serious running horses.
#5. The horse memory
If you have ever laughed at a horse with funny name or even made fun of a horse after it twists its head, then the horse will remember the insult in its entire life. A study conducted in 2010 proved very interesting facts about intelligence of horses particularly their memory. In addition to properly understanding our words, their memory is more like that of elephants. If you treat a horse kindly, it will remember you as a friend for its entire life.
#6. Horse meat
In spite of the most recent scandals which indicate otherwise, for many centuries horse meat has been a delicacy in most countries. One of these countries is France where they not only like the horse meat, but also horse brains and heart. People have eaten horses as long as they have been around, during wars, horses served as important and cheaper source of protein and in times of peace, people eat them simply because they taste good. Both the UK and the USA are the largest horse meat exporters on the globe.
#7. The Arabian horses
Most horses are beautiful, but the Arabian horses are the most majestic. The horses which are the oldest horse breed (they appeared around 4500 years ago) are known for their wiry desert look and recognizable silhouette. Anyone can easily tell an Arabian horse from the other breeds since they are high tailed and have a unique head shape. Their ribs are wider, stronger and also deeper. They also have fewer tail vertebrae and umbar bones. They can run for over 160 kilometers without rest.
Image source: wikipedia.org