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Fun Facts About Horses & Other Equines

Horses are stunning animals and for centuries have carried man around on their backs or pulled them along in carriages. The horse has help man work the land, they have taken man to war and pulled gun carriages, they have been ridden for pleasure and performed other magnificent tasks for humankind for centuries.

Donkeys and mules too, have done their bit to help man and in many parts of the world, they still do. In fact for decades, man has relied on these animals in so many ways. It is because of the horse that man has achieved lots of things they would not have otherwise been able to. Below are some fascinating and some amusing facts about horses, donkeys and mules that might make you smile:

  • Horses are what is known as herbivorous mammals
  • Horses and this includes zebras, belong to the genus equus
  • A young female horse is called a filly
  • An older female horse is known as a mare
  • A young male horse is called a colt
  • An older male horse is known as a stallion
  • A castrated male horse is called a gelding
  • Foals are weaned off their mothers when they are six months old
  • A horse is described as a ‘foal’ for its first year of life
  • Foals have milk teeth and these are eventually replaced by permanent teeth when they reach 2½ years old – by the age of 5 horses have their full compliment of permanent teeth
  • Today, there are around 75 million horses in the world
  • No 2 horses are ever identical
  • Horses evolved on the American continent over 60 million years ago after this they died out and were reintroduced by Spanish conquistadors when they arrived on the continent
  • The first written record of a Dartmoor pony was in 1012 when a Dartmoor pony was mentioned in a will
  • It is thought the oldest pure breed of native horse is the Exmoor
  • Horses are traditionally measured in ‘hands’ which equates to 4 inches and was always considered to the the width of a man's hand
  • Riders are taught to mount and dismount from the left side of a horse – known as the near side

Donkeys and mules are lovely creatures which some people believe are more intelligent than their horse counterparts. One thing is for sure which is that both donkeys and mules are very strong natured but very kind too. Here are some fun facts about them:

  • There are around 40 million donkeys and mules in the world, most of which are found in under developed countries where they still work very hard alongside man
  • A female donkey is called a jenny or jennet
  • A male donkey is called a jack donkey or sometimes they are referred to as jackasses
  • The largest breed of donkey in the world is called the Poitou donkey
  • When a donkey or mule kicks, they very rarely miss their target!
  • If you cross a donkey with a zebra, you get a zedonk

The anatomy of horses and other equines is pretty remarkable. They always look very fragile, especially their legs. But horses, donkeys and mules are much stronger than they appear to be – here are a few more fascinating facts about the anatomy of horses and other equines:

  • Horse's hooves grow around 0.25 inches a month – it takes just about one year from the hoof to grow from the coronet band down to the ground
  • The left side of a horse is known as the near side and the right side is the off side
  • The pulse of a healthy adult horse should be between 36 and 40 beats a minute when they are at rest
  • A horse's hear weighs in at a healthy nine pounds
  • A horse has a total of  205 bones in their bodies – 80 of which are found in their legs
  • Arabs have one less rib, one less lumbar bone as well as a couple of less tail bones than other horses have got
  • A healthy horse will breath at a rate of 816 breaths per minute when they are at rest
  • People can work out a horse's age by looking at their teeth – this gives a good estimate of how old a horse might be

Horses love to spend most of their time grazing and are happy just to mooch around in their paddocks with their friends. But to keep them fit and healthy, horses need regular exercise which also keeps their brains active. The majority of horses, ponies, donkeys and mules do love to be ridden or driven in harness because they are inquisitive creatures that like to be out and about. Here are some interesting facts about the behaviour of horses and other equines:

  • Horses usually only lie down for around 40 or so minutes a day
  • A horse normally sleeps for anything from two to three hours a day
  • A horse will sleep longer during the warmer summer months than in the winter time
  • Horses and other equines don't usually like the smell of pigs

Some Fun Proverbs and Sayings About Horses

  • “The horse is God's gift to man”  an old Arab proverb
  • “If you want a kitten, start out by asking for a horse”  Anon
  • “ Show me your horse and I will tell you who you are” an old English saying
  • “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse” Richard III of England
  • “The one great precept and practice in using a horse is this – never deal with him when you are in a fit of passion” Xenophon, The Art of Horsemanship 400 BC
  • “It is not enough for a man to know how to ride; he must know how to fall” Mexican Proverb
  • “ Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people” W.C. Fields
  • “The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears” Arabian Proverb
  • “Horses are uncomfortable in the middle and dangerous at both ends” Attributed to both Christopher Stone and Ian Fleming

There's no getting away from the fact that horses are magnificent creatures that most people love to watch when they perform whether they are working or playing in a paddock. These graceful creatures have given a lot to man over the centuries and still continue to do so in this fast moving modern world.


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