Eleven Fun Facts About Horses
11 Fun Facts About Horses
While we don’t have any horses in our farm animal center, they are a very important part of the farming life! Throughout history horses have been used to pull farming equipment and as a mode of transportation. Today, they are often kept as pets or as show animals. Read on for more fun facts about horses!
1. The scientific name for the domesticated horse is Equus ferus caballus. Other members of the Equidae family include zebras and donkeys. Horses were domesticated as early as 4000, B.C.
2. A baby horse is called a “foal,” a female horse is called a “mare” and a male horse is called a “gelding” or a “stallion,” depending on whether or not it is able to be bred.
3. While many people refer to younger horses as “colts,” this is really only the term for a young male horse (under four years old). Young female horses are called a “filly.”
4. Horses are measured in “hands,” a unit of measurement that equals 4 inches. They are measured from the withers, which is the place where their neck meets their back. This is the most stable point of the horse, since the head and neck can be moved up and down.
5. The largest horse in recorded history was a Shire horse named Mammoth, born in 1846 in Bedfordshire, England. He stood 21.2-1/4 hands high, or 86.25 inches, and weighed 3,360 pounds at his peak weight. That’s over 7 feet tall—at the shoulder!
6. The current record for the smallest horse is a fully-mature miniature horse who is also affected by dwarfism. Born in 2001 in Missouri, Thumbelina is just 17 inches tall and only weighs 57 pounds.
7. Horses have very good senses. In addition to having the largest eyes of any land mammal, their eyes are positioned on the side of their heads, which means they have a vision of over 350º. They also have excellent day and night vision, but it is two-color (or dichromatic) vision. They also have an excellent sense of smell (better than humans but not as good as dogs), and their ears can each rotate 180º, which gives the potential for 360º hearing without moving their head.
8. Horses generally move at one of four basic gaits: the four-beat walk, the two-beat trot, the three-beat canter and a gallop. The world record for a gallop in a short sprint was almost 44 mph, but the average is 25-30 mph.
9. While many people would refer to any small horse as a “pony,” they are actually two different things. As a general rule, horses are any equine that are taller than 14.2 hands (about 57”), and ponies are any equine that are shorter than 14.2 hands. However, there are other differences as well, and some horse breeds may be smaller than 14.2 hands but still considered horses (such as the American Miniature Horse). Ponies tend to be stocky and stronger (for their size), and more tolerant of colder weather because of their thicker coats and manes. They usually have shorter legs and wider chests, thicker necks and shorter heads than horses.
10. The “Pony Express” was a mail service that delivered newspapers, magazines and personal mail in the United States for 19 months in 1860-61. It started in St. Joseph, Missouri (on the Missouri River), and ended in San Francisco, California, with over 150 stations along the way.
11. While there are herds of feral horses roaming around places in the midwestern United States and other countries, they all had domesticated ancestors at some point, and have just been allowed to roam free. The only true “wild horses” remaining is Przewalski’s horse, a completely separate subspecies that is endangered today. At one point in the 1950s, only 12 Przewalski’s horses existed in the whole world. Conservation efforts have led to a population of over 1000, with over 300 running in the wild.