Horses have been living on Earth for over 50 million years but they were domesticated only 6000 years ago. Horses have changed in all those years and people contributed to this, too. Nowadays there are about 400 different breeds. Some of them are good in wars, others at work, there are race horses and others for pure fun. There are hundreds of secrets about horses, I’m just gonna tell you 10 of them. The 10 I find the most fascinating.
1. The closest relative of the horse is the rhinoceros.
Today there is only on species alive from the Equidae family (horse’s family). It’s called Equus and domestic horses, Przewalski’s horse, zebras and donkeys are in this genus.
The closest relatives of horses are a bit more awkward, though. According to the Natural History Museum of America rhinos and tapirs are closer to horses than cows, pigs and goats, for instance.
2. Of all mammals, horses have the largest eyes.
The diameter of a horse’s eye is almost 0.4 in. Compared to a human eye that is bigger nine times.
Most of the times horses have monocular vision, meaning they use their eyes separately. This way they can look to the left and the right at the same time.
When looking in front of them, they use binocular vision. When they want to look at things in the distance, they will hold their heads up in the air to see better.
3. Horses can’t throw up.
I would say this is the most peculiar of all the secrets about horses I have ever read. Vets explain this by the fact that horses are physically unable to throw up. For humans and other animal species vomiting is essential to eliminate toxins. Horses, however, are not capable of doing it. Their esophageal sphincter muscle is a lot stronger than other animals’ and the angle between the esophagus and the stomach is different. This is why your horse is never going to throw up.
Arabian horse are a bit different from what you thought.
Arabian horses are well known for their greatness and are one of the oldest breeds. They have some a special anatomy, too. They have a greater density of bones and minus a lumbar vertebrae. This is the reason they have a shorter back. Furthermore, they have less ribs (again, we are talking about one pair of ribs) with a larger space between them. Moreover, they are known to hold their tails up in the air. Guess why! They are missing to vertebrae in their tails.
Secrets about horse teeth.
First of all, stallions have got 44 and mares between 36 and 40. The extra tusks (canine teeth) of the stallions are used when fighting for the mares.
Horses can also have so called wolf teeth, which don’t always erupt. When they do, they are usually extracted, so they don’t cause any troubles. The bit touching them can be an extremely painful experience for the horse.
According to those from the University of Missouri, telling the age of a horse by its teeth is a real art. Although it is a nearly perfect one as far as precision is concerned, well, it only works in the first 10-14 years.
Horses have mobile ears
Horses can turn their ears 180 degrees by using 10 muscles. We, humans only use six. Cats, for instance, have 36 auricular muscles (check it out here). They can move their ears to the sides or to the back. Additionally, they can choose and isolate a single direction they want to point their ears to.
Horses don’t only move their ears to listen. They also communicate by this mean with other animals and even us. If the horse turns its ears towards the back, it’s no big secret, it is quite mad.
Horses don’t really smile.
We often see horses pulling up their upper lips. Although it somewhat looks like a smile, it definitely isn’t one. They keep doing this to be able to feel smells better. This way pheromones and other molecules get easier to their Jacobson organ, which is an auxiliary organ facilitating smelling.
Stallions ‘smile’ to find mares and mares do to find their foals. Isn’t this yet another awesome secret about horses?
Akhal-Teke – photo model of the horse world
Akhal-Teke horses have the shiniest fur among all breeds and there is an explanation for this: their hair structure makes the difference. The opaque core of the hair is less or it might be absent in certain regions, but Akhal-Teke horses have more medulla (the transparent part) instead. While one end of the hair is lit by the sun, the other reflects the rays, which give the fur a unique goldish glow.
Horses are more intelligent than we think.
Recent studies have found some secrets about horse intelligence.
Horses respond particularly well to positive stimuli. In 2010, 23 horses were trained to do 41 activities by a certain person. Then they were separated for 8 months. After that time horses were able to recognise that person and do the same moves because of the positive association they had with him.
Moreover, until recently it was assumed that horses could not recognise an object they had seen with one eye when seen with the other. A study conducted by the Equine Research Foundation from California have proven this theory wrong and claimed that all the images seen with either eye contributed to a rich memory.
Mules are infertile.
A mule is born by crossing a horse with a donkey. Due to their great strength, patience and intelligence, they are excellent work animals. Yet, they cant reproduce. Males are always infertile. However, they should be castrated so that they are asier to handle. Females on the other hand is likely fertile but needs to mate with a horse or a donkey.
These are a few interesting and somewhat shocking secrets about horses. Still, these gorgeous animals have a lot more to tell you about themselves, so make sure you miss no opportunity to find out something new about them.