People usually use the terms predator and prey to refer to animals. Instead of other animals, horses eat mainly grasses and plants.
Some owners also feed their horses oats or corn. For treats, horses love to eat fruits and vegetables, such as apples and carrots.
Predators of the horse include humans, mountain lions, wolves, coyotes and even bears. The fact that horses are prey animals helps to explain some of their behaviors.
Also, horses are physiologically and instinctively well-equipped to handle them, so these predators usually seek easier game. Still, if you live in an area where large predators are present, take precautions to protect your horses and other pets.
Plenty of predators will seize the opportunity to snack on a young domestic horse, especially one that is alone in a paddock. A healthy newborn horse can stand and run in just a few short hours after birth.
This strong substance protects the horse’s feet from wear and tear, but also provides quite a painful blow should any predator find itself on the wrong end of a rearing mustang. A large adult horse with a group of friends is much safer than a lone foal that was separated from its herd.
Size : 80 to 100 pounds Territory : Wolves prefer the dense forests and mountain regions of the Northern Hemisphere, but can survive in a variety of habitats. Before European settlers arrived in North America, wolves roamed freely hunting elk, deer, and other large game.
Size : 130 to 185 pounds Territory : “The cougar thrives in montane, coniferous forests, lowland tropical forests, swamps, grassland, dry brush country, or any other area with adequate cover and prey.” (source) Characteristics : These predators are athletic solo hunters. They stalk their prey and rely on the element of surprise, but they can run and leap great distances.
They generally prefer to hunt smaller game, like fish, birds, or small mammals. Coyotes are clever pack hunters, and they rarely start a fight that they might not win.
Horses are too large, and they pose too big of a threat to a coyote’s health for him to bother. Still, if a pack of hungry coyotes stumbles across a young or injured horse, they may seize the opportunity.
In Florida, the Payne's Prairie Reserve is home to alligators, bison, black bears, and wild horses. Alligators mostly eat fish, birds, and small mammals, but will occasionally attack horses and cows.
While they mostly cause trouble for cattle and other domestic livestock, dogs tend to be bolder and more aggressive than wolves or coyotes. “Coy dogs” and “wolf dogs” don’t always act according to their behavioral characteristics, and can cause problems for wild horse herds.
Venomous Snakes North America is home to several species of deadly snakes, such as rattlesnakes, copperheads, and water moccasins. A significant bite from one of these species carries enough poison to cause swelling, shock, or even death.
BisonBoth bison and horses are herd animals, and generally, have neutral interactions when their paths cross. West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis have deadly results in both horses and humans.
DiseaseBacterial infections from wounds, communicable viruses, and fungus all pose threats to wild horses. Several wild horses on Chincoteague island succumbed to a “swamp cancer” caused by a fungus in stagnant water.
(source)Prairie DogsThese rodents dig large networks of tunnels. A mustang can easily step into one of their entrance holes and severely injure a leg.
When wild horse populations reach critical levels, they are rounded up and either adopted to willing families or housed on private farms and feedlots. But because they have few natural predators, the Bureau of Land Management and other agencies are trying to curb their numbers in other ways.
Horses compete for resources with cattle, and they can cause significant damage to the land. Even though humans seek to prevent harm from wild horses, once a mustang is rounded up and sent to a new home, he’s no longer living freely.
A wolf does have the ability to kill and then eat a horse, however, due to their low numbers, attacks are not common. Though the horse isn’t native to North America, there are still “wild” free-roaming animals on the range.
Horses are herbivores meaning they eat grass and fruits, they have no prey They eat grass, but that isn't considered prey.
In some areas bears may be a problem, and coyotes and wolves can pose a threat to horses also. Horses are herbivores and prey animals, meaning they don't eat meat and do not hunt anything, they are the hunted, especially by humans.
Horses only eat grass and vegetation, they are herbivorous, so don't need to prey on other animals. If threatened by another animal a horse would normally run away. Large North American animals that prey on horses include wolves, dogs, bears and cougars.
Small animals that prey on horses include ticks, blowflies, deer flies, intestinal worms and others. In the wild, predators for horses would be determined by their age.
Older horses, especially the elderly, would be prey for the top predators like the cougar. Instead, they eat grass and forms, since they are herbivores.
Then carnivores, the top ranking members of the food chain, eat the herbivores. Article Summary: To understand equine behavior, it is important to remember that horses are prey animals, potential lunch for another organism.
Horses are prey animals and have a number of physical, mental and behavioral adaptations that serve their drive to survive. You have free access to a large collection of materials used in a college-level introductory Cell Biology Course.
The Virtual Cell Biology Classroom provides a wide range of free educational resources including PowerPoint Lectures, Study Guides, Review Questions and Practice Test Questions. If the species in question is not relying on the invisibility of camouflage, it is probably depending on speed or the safety of group membership.
Things that surprise a horse will be perceived as a threat and inspire a fearful reaction. This terrifying stimulus can be a barking dog, an overzealous child, or, for skittish steeds, even a butterfly.
Like many prey animals, horses eyes are located on the sides of their heads, giving them a large visual field. A short kick can't pack much power and is less likely to result in injury to the handler.
In addition to remembering how to properly approach and move around a horse, it's important to understand how to behave in general around them. As a prey animal, a horse may perceive any sudden movement, large gesture or loud noise, as a threat.
Make sure your manner is confident, your movements slow and deliberate, and your voice soft and comforting. Although a firm voice is essential to use when giving a command or reprimand; it is the shrill, screeching screams of excited children and terrified adults that may launch a horse into panic and result in a dangerous situation.
Although mounts are much bigger than their handlers, in all interactions with horses we should remember that these gentle giants operate from a prey mentality. If there is one concept which could encompass the motivation behind this whole movement, it is that people are becoming aware that if they want to train their horse successfully they must be perceived as the herd leader.
This led to the idea of becoming a dominant herd member because then you could expect respect and obedience. Many people are now realizing that things are less black and white than this, and that being a leader is not necessarily about domination, whether the domineering force is dressed up as whirling ropes and thin rope head-collars or plain old spurs, whips and double bridles.
The problem is that we have made some fairly major assumptions in doing this, and maybe we have bypassed some important facts as a result. This doesn't necessarily mean we are speaking their language, only that we have restrained them into a small enough place that they have to interact with us in whatever way they know how.
Thinking about it rationally, for an animal that has developed an instinctive fear of predators over such a long time, we can't even conceive of what it means for horses to accept us as harmless as well as a capable leader they can trust with their lives. Expecting to gain this trust just because we act like we think a herd leader does for half an hour in a round pen is ambitious to say the very least.
Horses in the wild in modern times are mainly only susceptible to the predation of their young, which is no less important of course, but the point is that they have only ever been creatures of defense. This means that their consciousness has always been devoted to or taken up to some degree, by threat awareness, evaluation and avoidance.
As with any continuously evolving species, there will be some individuals born with a keener instinct for threat assimilation than others. Self-defense is still at the heart of modern horse behavior however, and few people seem to recognize it or manage it in a constructive way.
They are then taken to a different environment than where they normally forage and shelter and are therefore exposed to any kind of potential danger(s), sadly including the human being who has taken them there. This is one of the main ways that humans misinterpret horse behavior, and as a result, cause tension right from the start of the training process.
Step 1:The first thing we can do to help our horse is to relax and stop worrying about all the training goals and plans we have for today's riding session. Become aware of your horse's behavior on a more subtle level: notice whether she is alert and listening to you, or if she is watching the world around her.
If she does this try to work out when it began during the session i.e. whether she is like that all the time or only when you produce the saddle, or maybe when she catches sight of the arena. Step 3: If your horse directs his attention away from you and both ears are pointing away, then he is assessing a threat.
Step 4:If the horse perceives the threat as dangerous as she will spend longer analyzing it, and perhaps consider turning round to run away. In between the analysis and the running however, there is usually a moment when she will cast her attention in your direction, and in this hesitation you have your chance to 'steady the ship' and keep her facing the threat.
Try to do this in as non-forceful a way as possible: if you are riding, using your legs and postural strength in preference to holding onto the bit. If she is then allowed to assess it again and is supported each time she continues to try to turn away, then eventually she will accept that she is not in danger.
Allow this, because until she accepts that the object or event is not a threat, she will not relax and be able to concentrate on her work. This horse recently went through a period in her training where she was almost constantly perceiving threat outside the arena during her schooling session.
One influences the other to produce individual horse behavior, and when you begin to respect his perspective you are sure to learn far more about him. Horses which have been refused the chance to satisfy their threat anxiety in the past might go into a kind of threat assessment frenzy, wanting to stop and look every few minutes (as in the example above), or for long periods of time, especially in places they have felt particularly unsafe.
This is rehabilitation work, and if you can see it through you will heal long-held traumas and release deeply suppressed emotions. Notice whether the horse feels 'safer' than usual in between pauses, or more supple and able to stretch and swing more.
Horses like this will be helped if you can add reassurance at the point when they turn to you for your opinion. Scratch at the withers or gently stroke the neck and speak in a low affectionate voice.
Adding extra security to the horse's own satisfaction that the world is safe at that moment will encourage him to rate your leadership qualities. Such a horse is a challenge to rehabilitate, but when they come back out again you will feel such a sense of joy it is incomparable with much else.
Meg came to us from a riding school, and we gave had a year out with the herd before we brought her back into work. If you can be fairly consistent, you will notice the periods between threat assessments decrease until they are very rare.
The horse will always be a prey animal, and if you are always willing to appreciate that then they will very rarely resort to flight tactics. She had reached a meltdown in her relationship with people, she reared and refused to go forward under saddle.
Listening to her needs and allowing her to judge her own safety resulted in such a radical turnaround that she came to feel her work was her safe place, and it would take a hot air balloon landing in the arena to make her worry! The pages on Hit are so wide-ranging and interrelated that we strongly recommend you look at the site plan to find other subjects that may interest you.
Horse Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Mammalian Order: Perissodactyla Family: Equine Genus: Equus Species: Subspecies: Trinomial name Equus ferns Catullus Synonyms The horse (Equus ferns Catullus) is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferns. It is an odd-toed ungulate mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equine.
The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature, Phipps, into the large, single-toed animal of today. Horses in the subspecies Catullus are domesticated, although some domesticated populations live in the wild as feral horses.
There is an extensive, specialized vocabulary used to describe equine-related concepts, covering everything from anatomy to life stages, size, colors, markings, breeds, locomotion, and behavior. Horses are adapted to run, allowing them to quickly escape predators, possessing an excellent sense of balance and a strong fight-or-flight response.
Related to this need to flee from predators in the wild is an unusual trait: horses are able to sleep both standing up and lying down, with younger horses tending to sleep significantly more than adults. Female horses, called mares, carry their young for approximately 11 months, and a young horse, called a foal, can stand and run shortly following birth.
Most domesticated horses begin training under a saddle or in a harness between the ages of two and four. They reach full adult development by age five, and have an average lifespan of between 25 and 30 years.
Horse breeds are loosely divided into three categories based on general temperament: spirited “hot bloods” with speed and endurance; “cold bloods”, such as draft horses and some ponies, suitable for slow, heavy work; and warm bloods “, developed from crosses between hot bloods and cold bloods, often focusing on creating breeds for specific riding purposes, particularly in Europe. There are more than 300 breeds of horse in the world today, developed for many uses.
Horses and humans interact in a wide variety of sport competitions and non-competitive recreational pursuits, as well as in working activities such as police work, agriculture, entertainment, and therapy. Horses were historically used in warfare, from which a wide variety of riding and driving techniques developed, using many styles of equipment and methods of control.
Many products are derived from horses, including meat, milk, hide, hair, bone, and pharmaceuticals extracted from the urine of pregnant mares. Humans provide domesticated horses with food, water, and shelter, as well as attention from specialists such as veterinarians and farriers.
Specific terms and specialized language are used to describe equine anatomy, different life stages, and colors and breeds. Depending on breed, management and environment, the modern domestic horse has a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years.
Uncommonly, a few animals live into their 40s and, occasionally, beyond. The oldest verifiable record was Old Billy “, a 19th-century horse that lived to the age of 62.
In modern times, Sugar Puff, who had been listed in Guinness World Records as the world's oldest living pony, died in 2007 at age 56. Regardless of a horse or pony's actual birthdate, for most competition purposes a year is added to its age each January 1 of each year in the Northern Hemisphere and each August 1 in the Southern Hemisphere.
The exception is in endurance riding, where the minimum age to compete is based on the animal's actual calendar age. Most domesticated foals are weaned at five to seven months of age, although foals can be weaned at four months with no adverse physical effects.
Colt : A male horse under the age of four. A common terminology error is to call any young horse a “colt”, when the term actually only refers to young male horses.
Stallion : A non-castrated male horse four years old and older. The term “horse” is sometimes used colloquially to refer specifically to a stallion.
Gelding : A castrated male horse of any age. In horse racing, these definitions may differ: For example, in the British Isles, Thoroughbred horse racing defines colts and fillies as less than five years old.
However, Australian Thoroughbred racing defines colts and fillies as less than four years old. The height of horses is measured at the highest point of the withers, where the neck meets the back.
This point is used because it is a stable point of the anatomy, unlike the head or neck, which move up and down in relation to the body of the horse. In English-speaking countries, the height of horses is often stated in units of hands and inches: one hand is equal to 4 inches (101.6 mm).
The height is expressed as the number of full hands, followed by a point, then the number of additional inches, and ending with the abbreviation “h” or “HH” (for “hands high”). Light riding horses usually range in height from 14 to 16 hands (56 to 64 inches, 142 to 163 cm) and can weigh from 380 to 550 kilograms (840 to 1,210 lb).
Larger riding horses usually start at about 15.2 hands (62 inches, 157 cm) and often are as tall as 17 hands (68 inches, 173 cm), weighing from 500 to 600 kilograms (1,100 to 1,320 lb). Heavy or draft horses are usually at least 16 hands (64 inches, 163 cm) high and can be as tall as 18 hands (72 inches, 183 cm) high.
He stood 21.2 1 4 hands (86.25 inches, 219 cm) high and his peak weight was estimated at 1,524 kilograms (3,360 lb). The current record holder for the world's smallest horse is Tumbling, a fully mature miniature horse affected by dwarfism.
She is 17 in (43 cm) tall and weighs 57 lb (26 kg). The distinction between a horse and pony is commonly drawn on the basis of height, especially for competition purposes.
However, height alone is not dispositive; the difference between horses and ponies may also include aspects of phenotype, including conformation and temperament. The traditional standard for height of a horse or a pony at maturity is 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm).
An animal 14.2 h or over is usually considered to be a horse and one less than 14.2 h a pony, but there are many exceptions to the traditional standard. In Australia, ponies are considered to be those under 14 hands (56 inches, 142 cm).
For competition in the Western division of the United States Equestrian Federation, the cutoff is 14.1 hands (57 inches, 145 cm). The International Federation for Equestrian Sports, the world governing body for horse sport, uses metric measurements and defines a pony as being any horse measuring less than 148 centimeters (58.27 in) at the withers without shoes, which is just over 14.2 h, and 149 centimeters (58.66 in), or just over 14.2 1 2 h, with shoes.
Height is not the sole criterion for distinguishing horses from ponies. Breed registries for horses that typically produce individuals both under and over 14.2 h consider all animals of that breed to be horses regardless of their height.
Conversely, some pony breeds may have features in common with horses, and individual animals may occasionally mature at over 14.2 h, but are still considered to be ponies. Ponies often exhibit thicker manes, tails, and overall coat.
They also have proportionally shorter legs, wider barrels, heavier bone, shorter and thicker necks, and short heads with broad foreheads. They may have calmer temperaments than horses and also a high level of intelligence that may or may not be used to cooperate with human handlers.
Conversely, breeds such as the Flagella and other miniature horses, which can be no taller than 30 inches (76 cm), are classified by their registries as very small horses, not ponies. Bay (left) and chestnut (sometimes called “sorrel”) are two of the most common coat colors, seen in almost all breeds.
Horses exhibit a diverse array of coat colors and distinctive markings, described by a specialized vocabulary. Often, a horse is classified first by its coat color, before breed or sex.
Horses of the same color may be distinguished from one another by white markings, which, along with various spotting patterns, are inherited separately from coat color. Many genes that create horse coat colors and patterns have been identified.
Current genetic tests can identify at least 13 different alleles influencing coat color, and research continues to discover new genes linked to specific traits. The basic coat colors of chestnut and black are determined by the gene controlled by the Melanocortin 1 receptor, also known as the “extension gene” or “red factor,” as its recessive form is “red” (chestnut) and its dominant form is black.
Additional genes control suppression of black color to point coloration that results in a bay, spotting patterns such as pinto or leopard, dilution genes such as palomino or dun, as well as graying, and all the other factors that create the many possible coat colors found in horses. Grays are born a darker shade, get lighter as they age, but usually keep black skin underneath their white hair coat (except pink skin under white markings).
The only horses properly called white are born with a predominantly white hair coat and pink skin, a fairly rare occurrence. Different and unrelated genetic factors can produce white coat colors in horses, including several alleles of dominant white and the sabino-1 gene.
However, there are no albino horses, defined as having both pink skin and red eyes. Gestation lasts approximately 340 days, with an average range 320–370 days, and usually results in one foal ; twins are rare.
Horses are a precocity species, and foals are capable of standing and running within a short time following birth. The estrous cycle of a mare occurs roughly every 19–22 days and occurs from early spring into autumn.
Foals are generally weaned from their mothers between four and six months of age. Horses, particularly colts, sometimes are physically capable of reproduction at about 18 months, but domesticated horses are rarely allowed to breed before the age of three, especially females.
Horses four years old are considered mature, although the skeleton normally continues to develop until the age of six; maturation also depends on the horse's size, breed, sex, and quality of care. These plates convert after the other parts of the bones, and are crucial to development.
Depending on maturity, breed, and work expected, horses are usually put under saddle and trained to be ridden between the ages of two and four. Although Thoroughbred race horses are put on the track as young as the age of two in some countries, horses specifically bred for sports such as dressage are generally not put under saddle until they are three or four years old, because their bones and muscles are not solidly developed.
For endurance riding competition, horses are not deemed mature enough to compete until they are a full 60 calendar months (five years) old. Skeletal system The skeletal system of a modern horseshoe horse skeleton averages 205 bones.
Their leg bones are proportioned differently from those of a human. For example, the body part that is called a horse's “knee” is actually made up of the carpal bones that correspond to the human wrist.
Similarly, the hock contains bones equivalent to those in the human ankle and heel. The lower leg bones of a horse correspond to the bones of the human hand or foot, and the fetlock (incorrectly called the “ankle”) is actually the proximal sesamoid bones between the cannon bones (a single equivalent to the human metacarpal or metatarsal bones) and the proximal phalanges, located where one finds the “knuckles” of a human.
A horse also has no muscles in its legs below the knees and hocks, only skin, hair, bone, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and the assorted specialized tissues that make up the hoof. Hooves The critical importance of the feet and legs is summed up by the traditional adage, “no foot, no horse”.
The horse hoof begins with the distal phalanges, the equivalent of the human fingertip or tip of the toe, surrounded by cartilage and other specialized, blood-rich soft tissues such as the laminae. The exterior hoof wall and horn of the sole is made of keratin, the same material as a human fingernail.
The end result is that a horse, weighing on average 500 kilograms (1,100 lb), travels on the same bones as would a human on tiptoe. For the protection of the hoof under certain conditions, some horses have horseshoes placed on their feet by a professional farrier.
The hoof continually grows, and in most domesticated horses needs to be trimmed (and horseshoes reset, if used) every five to eight weeks, though the hooves of horses in the wild wear down and regrow at a rate suitable for their terrain. In an adult horse, there are 12 incisors at the front of the mouth, adapted to biting off the grass or other vegetation.
There are 24 teeth adapted for chewing, the premolars and molars, at the back of the mouth. Stallions and geldings have four additional teeth just behind the incisors, a type of canine teeth called “tushes”.
Some horses, both male and female, will also develop one to four very small vestigial teeth in front of the molars, known as “wolf” teeth, which are generally removed because they can interfere with the bit. There is an empty interdental space between the incisors and the molars where the bit rests directly on the gums, or “bars” of the horse's mouth when the horse is bridled.
An estimate of a horse's age can be made from looking at its teeth. The teeth continue to erupt throughout life and are worn down by grazing.
Therefore, the incisors show changes as the horse ages; they develop a distinct wear pattern, changes in tooth shape, and changes in the angle at which the chewing surfaces meet. This allows a very rough estimate of a horse's age, although diet and veterinary care can also affect the rate of tooth wear.
Digestion Horses are herbivores with a digestive system adapted to a forage diet of grasses and other plant material, consumed steadily throughout the day. Therefore, compared to humans, they have a relatively small stomach but very long intestines to facilitate a steady flow of nutrients.
A 450-kilogram (990 lb) horse will eat 7 to 11 kilograms (15 to 24 lb) of food per day and, under normal use, drink 38 to 45 liters (8.4 to 9.9 imp gal; 10 to 12 US gal) of water. Horses are not ruminants, they have only one stomach, like humans, but unlike humans, they can utilize cellulose, a major component of grass.
Cellulose fermentation by symbiotic bacteria occurs in the cecum, or “water gut”, which food goes through before reaching the large intestine. Horses cannot vomit, so digestion problems can quickly cause colic, a leading cause of death.
Senses The horses senses are based on their status as prey animals, where they must be aware of their surroundings at all times. Their sense of smell, while much better than that of humans, is not quite as good as that of a dog.
It is believed to play a key role in the social interactions of horses as well as detecting other key scents in the environment. The first system is in the nostrils and nasal cavity, which analyze a wide range of odors.
These have a separate nerve pathway to the brain and appear to primarily analyze pheromones. A horse's hearing is good, and the Penna of each ear can rotate up to 180°, giving the potential for 360° hearing without having to move the head.
Noise impacts the behavior of horses and certain kinds of noise may contribute to stress: A 2013 study in the UK indicated that stabled horses were calmest in a quiet setting, or if listening to country or classical music, but displayed signs of nervousness when listening to jazz or rock music. This study also recommended keeping music under a volume of 21 decibels.
The most sensitive areas are around the eyes, ears, and nose. Horses are able to sense contact as subtle as an insect landing anywhere on the body.
Horses have an advanced sense of taste, which allows them to sort through fodder and choose what they would most like to eat, and their prehensile lips can easily sort even small grains. Horses generally will not eat poisonous plants, however, there are exceptions; horses will occasionally eat toxic amounts of poisonous plants even when there is adequate healthy food.
All horses move naturally with four basic gaits : the four-beat walk, which averages 6.4 kilometers per hour (4.0 mph); the two-beat trot or jog at 13 to 19 kilometers per hour (8.1 to 11.8 mph) (faster for harness racing horses); the canter or lope, a three-beat gait that is 19 to 24 kilometers per hour (12 to 15 mph); and the gallop. The gallop averages 40 to 48 kilometers per hour (25 to 30 mph), but the world record for a horse galloping over a short, sprint distance is 70.76 kilometers per hour (43.97 mph).
Besides these basic gaits, some horses perform a two-beat pace, instead of the trot. There also are several four-beat ambling gaits that are approximately the speed of a trot or pace, though smoother to ride.
These include the lateral rack, running walk, and told as well as the diagonal fox trot. Horses are prey animals with a strong fight-or-flight response.
Their first reaction to a threat is to startle and usually flee, although they will stand their ground and defend themselves when flight is impossible or if their young are threatened. They also tend to be curious; when startled, they will often hesitate an instant to ascertain the cause of their fright, and may not always flee from something that they perceive as non-threatening.
Most light horse riding breeds were developed for speed, agility, alertness and endurance; natural qualities that extend from their wild ancestors. Horses are herd animals, with a clear hierarchy of rank, led by a dominant individual, usually a mare.
They are also social creatures that are able to form companionship attachments to their own species and to other animals, including humans. They communicate in various ways, including vocalizations such as nickering or whinnying, mutual grooming, and body language.
However, when confined with insufficient companionship, exercise, or stimulation, individuals may develop stable vices, an assortment of bad habits, mostly stereotypes of psychological origin, that include wood chewing, wall kicking, “weaving” (rocking back and forth), and other problems. Intelligence and learning Domesticated horses may face greater mental challenges than wild horses, because they live in artificial environments that prevent instinctive behavior whilst also learning tasks that are not natural.
One trainer believes that “intelligent” horses are reflections of intelligent trainers who effectively use response conditioning techniques and positive reinforcement to train in the style that best fits with an individual animal's natural inclinations. Temperament Horses are mammals, and as such are warm-blooded, or endothermic creatures, as opposed to cold-blooded, or poikilothermic animals.
However, these words have developed a separate meaning in the context of equine terminology, used to describe temperament, not body temperature. For example, the “hot-bloods”, such as many race horses, exhibit more sensitivity and energy, while the “cold-bloods”, such as most draft breeds, are quieter and calmer.
Illustration of assorted breeds; slim, light hot bloods, medium-sized warm bloods and draft and pony-type cold blood breeds”Hot blooded” breeds include oriental horses such as the Akhal-Teke, Arabian horse, Barb and now-extinct Turbofan horse, as well as the Thoroughbred, a breed developed in England from the older oriental breeds. Hot bloods tend to be spirited, bold, and learn quickly.
The original oriental breeds were brought to Europe from the Middle East and North Africa when European breeders wished to infuse these traits into racing and light cavalry horses. Muscular, heavy draft horses are known as “cold bloods”, as they are bred not only for strength, but also to have the calm, patient temperament needed to pull a plow or a heavy carriage full of people.
Well-known draft breeds include the Belgian and the Clydesdale. Some, like the Percheron, are lighter and livelier, developed to pull carriages or to plow large fields in drier climates.
Others, such as the Shire, are slower and more powerful, bred to plow fields with heavy, clay-based soils. “ Warm blood breeds, such as the Takeover or Hanoverian, developed when European carriage and war horses were crossed with Arabians or Thoroughbreds, producing a riding horse with more refinement than a draft horse, but greater size and milder temperament than a lighter breed.
Certain pony breeds with warm blood characteristics have been developed for smaller riders. Sleep patterns When horses lie down to sleep, others in the herd remain standing, awake or in a light doze, keeping watch.
In an adaptation from life in the wild, horses are able to enter light sleep by using a stay apparatus in their legs, allowing them to doze without collapsing. A horse kept alone will not sleep well because its instincts are to keep a constant eye out for danger.
Unlike humans, horses do not sleep in a solid, unbroken period of time, but take many short periods of rest. Horses spend four to fifteen hours a day in standing rest, and from a few minutes to several hours lying down.
Total sleep time in a 24-hour period may range from several minutes to a couple of hours, mostly in short intervals of about 15 minutes each. The average sleep time of a domestic horse is said to be 2.9 hours per day.
Horses must lie down to reach REM sleep. They only have to lie down for an hour or two every few days to meet their minimum REM sleep requirements.
However, if a horse is never allowed to lie down, after several days it will become sleep-deprived, and in rare cases may suddenly collapse as it involuntarily slips into REM sleep while still standing. This condition differs from narcolepsy, although horses may also suffer from that disorder.
From left to right: Size development, biometrical changes in the cranium, reduction of toes (left forefoot)The horse adapted to survive in areas of wide-open terrain with sparse vegetation, surviving in an ecosystem where other large grazing animals, especially ruminants, could not. Horses and other equips are odd-toed ungulates of the order Perissodactyla, a group of mammals that was dominant during the Tertiary period.
The extra toe on the front feet soon disappeared with the Mesohippus, which lived 32 to 37 million years ago. Over time, the extra side toes shrank in size until they vanished.
All that remains of them in modern horses is a set of small vestigial bones on the leg below the knee, known informally as splint bones. Their legs also lengthened as their toes disappeared until they were a hooked animal capable of running at great speed.
By about 5 million years ago, the modern Equus had evolved. Equip teeth also evolved from browsing on soft, tropical plants to adapt to browsing of drier plant material, then to grazing of tougher plains grasses.
Thus, photo- horses changed from leaf-eating forest-dwellers to grass-eating inhabitants of semi-arid regions worldwide, including the steppes of Eurasia and the Great Plains of North America. By about 15,000 years ago, Equus ferns was a widespread Arctic species.
Horse bones from this time period, the late Pleistocene, are found in Europe, Eurasia, Bering, and North America. Yet between 10,000 and 7,600 years ago, the horse became extinct in North America and rare elsewhere.
The reasons for this extinction are not fully known, but one theory notes that extinction in North America paralleled human arrival. Another theory points to climate change, noting that approximately 12,500 years ago, the grasses characteristic of a steppe ecosystem gave way to shrub tundra, which was covered with unpalatable plants.
A small herd of Przewalski's Horses A truly wild horse is a species or subspecies with no ancestors that were ever domesticated. Therefore, most “wild” horses today are actually feral horses, animals that escaped or were turned loose from domestic herds and the descendants of those animals.
The Przewalski's horse (Equus ferns przewalskii), named after the Russian explorer Nikolai Przhevalsky, is a rare Asian animal. It is also known as the Mongolian wild horse; Mongolian people know it as the take, and the Kerry people call it a airbag.
The subspecies was presumed extinct in the wild between 1969 and 1992, while a small breeding population survived in zoos around the world. In 1992, it was reestablished in the wild due to the conservation efforts of numerous zoos.
Today, a small wild breeding population exists in Mongolia. There are additional animals still maintained at zoos throughout the world.
The Tarzan or European wild horse (Equus ferus) was found in Europe and much of Asia. It survived into the historical era, but became extinct in 1909, when the last captive died in a Russian zoo.
Attempts to have been made to recreate the Tarzan, which resulted in horses with outward physical similarities, but nonetheless descended from domesticated ancestors and not true wild horses. Periodically, populations of horses in isolated areas are speculated to be relict populations of wild horses, but generally have been proven to be feral or domestic.
For example, the Roche horse of Tibet was proposed as such, but testing did not reveal genetic differences from domesticated horses. Similarly, the Sorrier of Portugal was proposed as a direct descendant of the Tarzan based on shared characteristics, but genetic studies have shown that the Sorrier is more closely related to other horse breeds and that the outward similarity is an unreliable measure of relatedness.
The most common hybrid is the mule, a cross between a “jack” (male donkey) and a mare. A related hybrid, a Ginny, is a cross between a stallion and a jenny (female donkey).
Other hybrids include the horse, a cross between a zebra and a horse. With rare exceptions, most hybrids are sterile and cannot reproduce.
Bhimbetka rock painting showing a man riding on a horse, IndiaDomestication of the horse most likely took place in Central Asia prior to 3500 BC. Two major sources of information are used to determine where and when the horse was first domesticated and how the domesticated horse spread around the world.
The first source is based on pathological and archaeological discoveries; the second source is a comparison of DNA obtained from modern horses to that from bones and teeth of ancient horse remains. The earliest archaeological evidence for the domestication of the horse comes from sites in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, dating to approximately 3500–4000 BC.
By 3000 BC, the horse was completely domesticated and by 2000 BC there was a sharp increase in the number of horse bones found in human settlements in northwestern Europe, indicating the spread of domesticated horses throughout the continent. The most recent, but most irrefutable evidence of domestication comes from sites where horse remains were interred with chariots in graves of the Sintashta and Petrov cultures c. 2100 BC.
Domestication is also studied by using the genetic material of present-day horses and comparing it with the genetic material present in the bones and teeth of horse remains found in archaeological and pathological excavations. The variation in the genetic material shows that very few wild stallions contributed to the domestic horse, while many mares were part of early domesticated herds.
This is reflected in the difference in genetic variation between the DNA that is passed on along the paternal, or sire line (Y-chromosome) versus that passed on along the maternal, or dam line (mitochondrial DNA). There are very low levels of Y-chromosome variability, but a great deal of genetic variation in mitochondrial DNA.
There is also regional variation in mitochondrial DNA due to the inclusion of wild mares in domestic herds. Another characteristic of domestication is an increase in coat color variation.
In horses, this increased dramatically between 5000 and 3000 BC. Before the availability of DNA techniques to resolve the questions related to the domestication of the horse, various hypotheses were proposed.
One classification was based on body types and conformation, suggesting the presence of four basic prototypes that had adapted to their environment prior to domestication. Another hypothesis held that the four prototypes originated from a single wild species and that all different body types were entirely a result of selective breeding after domestication.
However, the lack of a detectable substructure in the horse has resulted in a rejection of both hypotheses. Feral horses are born and live in the wild, but are descended from domesticated animals.
Many populations of feral horses exist throughout the world. Studies of feral herds have provided useful insights into the behavior of prehistoric horses, as well as greater understanding of the instincts and behaviors that drive horses that live in domesticated conditions.
There are also semi-feral horses in many parts of the world, such as Dartmoor and the New Forest in the UK, where the animals are all privately owned but live for significant amounts of time in “wild” conditions on undeveloped, often public, lands. Owners of such animals often pay a fee for grazing rights.
The concept of purebred bloodstock and a controlled, written breed registry has come to be particularly significant and important in modern times. Sometimes purebred horses are incorrectly or inaccurately called “thoroughbreds”.
Thoroughbred is a specific breed of horse, while a “purebred” is a horse (or any other animal) with a defined pedigree recognized by a breed registry. Horse breeds are groups of horses with distinctive characteristics that are transmitted consistently to their offspring, such as conformation, color, performance ability, or disposition.
These inherited traits result from a combination of natural crosses and artificial selection methods. An early example of people who practiced selective horse breeding were the Bedouin, who had a reputation for careful practices, keeping extensive pedigrees of their Arabian horses and placing great value upon pure bloodlines.
These pedigrees were originally transmitted via an oral tradition. In the 14th century, Cartesian monks of southern Spain kept meticulous pedigrees of bloodstock lineages still found today in the Andalusian horse.
Breeds developed due to a need for “form to function”, the necessity to develop certain characteristics in order to perform a particular type of work. Thus, a powerful but refined breed such as the Andalusian developed as riding horses with an aptitude for dressage.
Heavy draft horses were developed out of a need to perform demanding farm work and pull heavy wagons. Other horse breeds had been developed specifically for light agricultural work, carriage and road work, various sport disciplines, or simply as pets.
Some breeds developed through centuries of crossing other breeds, while others descended from a single foundation sire, or other limited or restricted foundation bloodstock. One of the earliest formal registries was General Stud Book for Thoroughbreds, which began in 1791 and traced back to the foundation bloodstock for the breed.
Worldwide, horses play a role within human cultures and have done so for millennia. Horses are used for leisure activities, sports, and working purposes.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that in 2008, there were almost 59,000,000 horses in the world, with around 33,500,000 in the Americas, 13,800,000 in Asia and 6,300,000 in Europe and smaller portions in Africa and Oceania. The American Horse Council estimates that horse-related activities have a direct impact on the economy of the United States of over $39 billion, and when indirect spending is considered, the impact is over $102 billion.
In a 2004 “poll” conducted by Animal Planet, more than 50,000 viewers from 73 countries voted for the horse as the world's 4th favorite animal. Communication between human and horse is paramount in any equestrian activity; to aid this process horses are usually ridden with a saddle on their backs to assist the rider with balance and positioning, and a bridle or related headgear to assist the rider in maintaining control.
Many horses are also driven, which requires a harness, bridle, and some type of vehicle. Historically, equestrians honed their skills through games and races.
Equestrian sports provided entertainment for crowds and honed the excellent horsemanship that was needed in battle. Many sports, such as dressage, evening and show jumping, have origins in military training, which were focused on control and balance of both horse and rider.
Other sports, such as rodeo, developed from practical skills such as those needed on working ranches and stations. Horse racing of all types evolved from impromptu competitions between riders or drivers.
All forms of competition, requiring demanding and specialized skills from both horse and rider, resulted in the systematic development of specialized breeds and equipment for each sport. The popularity of equestrian sports through the centuries has resulted in the preservation of skills that would otherwise have disappeared after horses stopped being used in combat.
Horses are trained to be ridden or driven in a variety of sporting competitions. Examples include show jumping, dressage, three-day evening, competitive driving, endurance riding, gymkhana, rodeos, and fox hunting.
Horse shows, which have their origins in medieval European fairs, are held around the world. They host a huge range of classes, covering all the mounted and harness disciplines, as well as “In-hand” classes where the horses are led, rather than ridden, to be evaluated on their conformation.
The method of judging varies with the discipline, but winning usually depends on style and ability of both horse and rider. Sports such as polo do not judge the horse itself, but rather use the horse as a partner for human competitors as a necessary part of the game.
Horse racing is an equestrian sport and major international industry, watched in almost every nation of the world. There are three types: “flat” racing; steeple chasing, i.e. racing over jumps; and harness racing, where horses trot or pace while pulling a driver in a small, light cart known as a sulky.
A major part of horse racing's economic importance lies in the gambling associated with it. There are certain jobs that horses do very well, and no technology has yet developed to fully replace them.
For example, mounted police horses are still effective for certain types of patrol duties and crowd control. Cattle ranches still require riders on horseback to round up cattle that are scattered across remote, rugged terrain.
Search and rescue organizations in some countries depend upon mounted teams to locate people, particularly hikers and children, and to provide disaster relief assistance. Horses can also be used in areas where it is necessary to avoid vehicular disruption to delicate soil, such as nature reserves.
They may also be the only form of transport allowed in wilderness areas. Law enforcement officers such as park rangers or game wardens may use horses for patrols, and horses or mules may also be used for clearing trails or other work in areas of rough terrain where vehicles are less effective.
Although machinery has replaced horses in many parts of the world, an estimated 100 million horses, donkeys and mules are still used for agriculture and transportation in less developed areas. This number includes around 27 million working animals in Africa alone.
Some land management practices such as cultivating and logging can be efficiently performed with horses. In agriculture, less fossil fuel is used and increased environmental conservation occurs over time with the use of draft animals such as horses.
Logging with horses can result in reduced damage to soil structure and less damage to trees due to more selective logging. The first archaeological evidence of horses used in warfare dates to between 4000 and 3000 BC, and the use of horses in warfare was widespread by the end of the Bronze Age.
Although mechanization has largely replaced the horse as a weapon of war, horses are still seen today in limited military uses, mostly for ceremonial purposes, or for reconnaissance and transport activities in areas of rough terrain where motorized vehicles are ineffective. Horses have been used in the 21st century by the Janjaweed militias in the War in Darfur.
The horse-headed deity in Hinduism, Hayagriva Modern horses are often used to reenact many of their historical work purposes. Horses are used, complete with equipment that is authentic or a meticulously recreated replica, in various live action historical reenactments of specific periods of history, especially recreations of famous battles.
Horses are also used to preserve cultural traditions and for ceremonial purposes. Countries such as the United Kingdom still use horse-drawn carriages to convey royalty and other VIPs to and from certain culturally significant events.
Public exhibitions are another example, such as the Budweiser Clydesdale's, seen in parades and other public settings, a team of draft horses that pull a beer wagon similar to that used before the invention of the modern motorized truck. Horses are frequently used in television, films and literature.
They are sometimes featured as a major character in films about particular animals, but also used as visual elements that assure the accuracy of historical stories. The horse frequently appears in coats of arms in heraldry, in a variety of poses and equipment.
The mythologies of many cultures, including Greco-Roman, Hindu, Islamic, and Norse, include references to both normal horses and those with wings or additional limbs, and multiple myths also call upon the horse to draw the chariots of the Moon and Sun. People of all ages with physical and mental disabilities obtain beneficial results from an association with horses.
Therapeutic riding is used to mentally and physically stimulate disabled persons and help them improve their lives through improved balance and coordination, increased self-confidence, and a greater feeling of freedom and independence. The benefits of equestrian activity for people with disabilities has also been recognized with the addition of equestrian events to the Paralympic Games and recognition of para-equestrian events by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI).
Hippo therapy and therapeutic horseback riding are names for different physical, occupational, and speech therapy treatment strategies that utilize equine movement. In hippo therapy, a therapist uses the horse's movement to improve their patient's cognitive, coordination, balance, and fine motor skills, whereas therapeutic horseback riding uses specific riding skills.
Horses also provide psychological benefits to people whether they actually ride or not. “Equine-assisted” or “equine-facilitated” therapy is a form of experiential psychotherapy that uses horses as companion animals to assist people with mental illness, including anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, mood disorders, behavioral difficulties, and those who are going through major life changes.
There are also experimental programs using horses in prison settings. Exposure to horses appears to improve the behavior of inmates and help reduce recidivism when they leave.
Products collected from living horses include mare's milk, used by people with large horse herds, such as the Mongols, who let it ferment to produce Luis. Horse blood was once used as food by the Mongols and other nomadic tribes, who found it a convenient source of nutrition when traveling.
Drinking their own horses blood allowed the Mongols to ride for extended periods of time without stopping to eat. The drug Remain is a mixture of estrogens extracted from the urine of pregnant mares (pregnant ma res' your in e), and was previously a widely used drug for hormone replacement therapy.
The tail hair of horses can be used for making bows for string instruments such as the violin, viola, cello, and double bass. Horse meat has been used as food for humans and carnivorous animals throughout the ages.
Approximately 5 million horses are slaughtered each year for meat worldwide. It is eaten in many parts of the world, though consumption is taboo in some cultures, and a subject of political controversy in others.
Horse hooves can also be used to produce animal glue. Specifically, in Italian cuisine, the horse tibia is sharpened into a probe called a Shinto, which is used to test the readiness of a (pig) ham as it cures.
In Asia, the saga is a horsehide vessel used in the production of Luis. Checking teeth and other physical examinations are an important part of horse care.
Horses are grazing animals, and their major source of nutrients is good-quality forage from hay or pasture. They can consume approximately 2% to 2.5% of their body weight in dry feed each day.
Sometimes, concentrated feed such as grain is fed in addition to pasture or hay, especially when the animal is very active. When grain is fed, equine nutritionists recommend that 50% or more of the animal's diet by weight should still be forage.
Horses require a plentiful supply of clean water, a minimum of 10 US gallons (38 L) to 12 US gallons (45 L) per day. Although horses are adapted to live outside, they require shelter from the wind and precipitation, which can range from a simple shed or shelter to an elaborate stable.
Horses require routine hoof care from a farrier, as well as vaccinations to protect against various diseases, and dental examinations from a veterinarian or a specialized equine dentist. If horses are kept inside in a barn, they require regular daily exercise for their physical health and mental well-being.
When turned outside, they require well-maintained, sturdy fences to be safely contained. Regular grooming is also helpful to help the horse maintain good health of the hair coat and underlying skin.
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Carey A. Williams, Ph.D., Extension Specialist in Equine Management The horse, a prey animal, depends on flight as its primary means of survival.
A stimulus unnoticed by humans is often cause for alarm for horses ; as riders and trainers we commonly mistake this reaction for “spookiness” or bad behavior. A prey animal must react instantly to a perceived predator to be able to survive.
If done correctly, human dominance can easily be established during training without causing the horse to become excessively fearful. As a highly social animal, the horse communicates its emotions and intents to its herd mates through both vocalization and body language.
The horse is a precocity species, meaning that the newborn foals are neurologically mature at birth. Even though they have poor color vision, they can differentiate blue and red from gray hues.
They can’t tell a trailer from an endless tunnel, or a mud puddle from a bottomless lagoon. Their perception is improved by about 5 times when using both eyes (binocular vision).
This is why horses cock their head in different ways to see close vs. distant objects. This is why a horse is much flightier on windy days; things that are normally stationary are now moving and perceived as a potential threat.
Never approach a horse without talking to them in these areas; if frightened they will use one of their defense mechanisms, e.g., kick or run. The expression in a horse’s eye is often thought to be a good indicator of their behavior, e.g., wide open with white showing (and not an Appaloosa), scared; half closed, sleepy, etc.
They use their hearing for three primary functions: to detect sounds, to determine the location of the sound, and to provide sensory information that allows the horse to recognize the identity of these sources. They can feel a fly on one single hair and any movement of the rider.
Body SignalsHorses are good at letting us know exactly how they are feeling; the only problem is most people don’t know how to speak “horse”. High: they are alert or excited Low: it is a sign of exhaustion, fear, pain or submission Held high over its back: (as seen in most foals) they are playful or are very alarmed Swishing: they are irritated.
Jaws open with teeth exposed: this shows aggression or possible attack. The Freshmen response: This is caused by an intense or unusual smell, usually in stallions when they sense a mare in heat.
Neutral: is when the ears are held loosely upward, openings facing forward or outward. Pricked: ears held stiff with openings pointed directly forward means the horse is alert.
Vocal noises include a squeal or scream which usually denotes a threat by a stallion or mare. Neighs or whinnies are the most familiar: high-pitched, drawn out sounds that can carry over distances.
Blowing is a strong, rapid expulsion of air resulting in a high-pitched “whooshing” sound, which usually is a sign of alarm used to warn others. Snorting is a more passive, shorter lower pitched version of blowing and is usually just a result of objects entering the nasal passage.
In contrast to signals of aggression within a herd, there are also signs of friendship. Mares and foals nudge and nuzzle each other during nursing or for comfort, and mutual grooming, when two horses nibble at each other, is often seen.
A herd of wild horses consists of one or two stallions, a group of mares, and their foals. The older mare has had more experiences, more close encounters, and survived more threats than any other horse in the herd.
Dominance is established not only through aggression but also through attitudes that let the other horses know she expects to be obeyed. The stallion’s job is to be the herd’s guardian and protector, while maintaining reproductive viability.
The stallion’s harem usually consists of 2 to 21 horses, with up to 8 of those being mares and the rest their offspring. So, when a horse is being submissive, it will simulate eating by lowering its head, chewing, and licking its lips (similar to snapping mentioned above).
Vices are negative activities that occur due to various causes, including stress, boredom, fear, excess energy, and nervousness. When kept in stalls we prevent them from engaging in many natural activities such as grazing, walking, or playing with other horses.
Cribbing occurs when the horse bites onto a fixed surface (e.g., stall door edge, grain bin, fence rail), arches his neck and sucks in air, making a grunting noise. This causes a release of endorphins which relieves the unpleasant situation.
Cribbing can lead to weight loss, poor performance, gastric colic, and excessive tooth wear. Weaving occurs when the horse stands by the stall door and rhythmically shifts its weight back and forth on its front legs while swinging its head.
This is also caused by boredom or excess energy, and can lead to weight loss, poor performance and weakened tendons. To decrease the frequency of this behavior, you might try adding another mealtime, placing toys in the stall, or providing more roughage or turn out time.
Wood chewing, eating bedding, or dirt, and self-mutilation are caused by lack of exercise or boredom. To eliminate this as a cause, provide more roughage to the diet, and free choice salt or minerals.
McDonnell, S. Equine Behavior Lab, University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine. Some scientists believe that the Tarzan, an extinct third subspecies, might have given rise to our domestic Horses.
Researchers believe that early humans had fully domesticated these mammals by 3000 BC. Through years of breeding, humans have developed many colors and patterns in their fur.
Some of the most common colors are gray, dark reddish-brown (known as “bay”), and light brown (known as “chestnut”). Miniature Horses, the smallest of the breeds, measure under 3 ft. tall at the shoulder, and weigh around 200 lbs.
Contrasting, Shires are the largest breed, standing nearly 6 ft. tall and weighing up to 2,400 lbs. These mammals are incredibly interesting creatures, alongside which have lived for thousands of years.
Because humans have fully domesticated Horses, they no longer have a “wild” habitat. Humans often keep these animals on pastures and fields with grass for them to eat.
This is where herds of feral horses originate, and these animals utilize grasslands, meadows, mountains, foothills, and more. Some, known as Mustangs, live in the Midwest region of the United States.
As herbivores, these creatures feed exclusively on plant matter. Humans domesticated these animals about 5,000 years ago by selecting the friendliest individuals and breeding them.
People ride them for pleasure and for sport, show them in events, and compete in various tasks. They also use them to round up cattle, for transport in search and rescue missions, for police work, and much more.
If you have the space and the means to pay for its care, it is a wonderful companion with an individual and unique personality. For pastures with little grass to graze on, you must provide more hay and pelleted feed.
These creatures also require maintenance of their hooves, teeth, and several vaccinations. When their hooves grow too long their feet can become severely injured or lame.
Finally, without proper vaccinations they can catch various deadly diseases. Regardless of the breed, the vast majority of these mammals are social, and they live in groups known as “herds.” As prey animals, these herds can be quite flighty at loud noises or unusual sights.
Because these large mammals have been present in human culture for thousands of years, it’s no surprise that you can find them in countless works of art, literature, religion, and more.