Ungulates (pronounced UNG-gy-layts) are members of a diverse clade of primarily large mammals with hooves. These include odd-toed ungulates such as horses, rhinoceroses and tapirs, and even-toed ungulates such as cattle, pigs, giraffes, camels, sheep, deer, and hippopotamuses.
Most terrestrial ungulates use the tips of their toes, usually hoofed, to sustain their whole body weight while moving. As a descriptive term, “ungulate” normally excludes cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises), as they do not possess most of the typical morphological characteristics of ungulates, but recent discoveries indicate that they were descended from early artiodactyls.
Ungulates are typically herbivorous and many employs specialized gut bacteria to allow them to digest cellulose. In 2009 morphological and molecular work found that aardvarks, hoaxes, sea cows, and elephants were more closely related to each other and to songs, genres, and golden moles than to the perissodactyls and artiodactyls, and form the clade Afrotheria.
Elephants, sea cows, and hoaxes were grouped together in the clade Paenungulata, while the aardvark has been considered as either a close relative to them or a close relative to songs in the clade Afroinsectiphilia. There is now some dispute whether this smaller Ungulate is a sadistic (evolution-based) group, or merely a phonetic group (form taxon) or folk taxon (similar, but not necessarily related).
Some studies have indeed found the Estonian ungulates and Patagonian ungulates to form a monophyletic lineage, closely related to either the Feral (the carnivorous and the pangolins) in the clade Fereuungulata or to the bats. Below is a simplified taxonomy (assuming that ungulates do indeed form a natural grouping) with the extant families, in order of the relationships.
See each family for the relationships of the species as well as the controversies in their respective article. Below is the consensus of the phylogeny of the ungulate families.
Cladogram showing relationships within Ungulate Perissodactyla and Artiodactyla include the majority of large land mammals. These two groups first appeared during the late Paleocene, rapidly spreading to a wide variety of species on numerous continents, and have developed in parallel since that time.
Some scientists believed that modern ungulates were descended from an evolutionary grade of mammals known as the condylarths ; the earliest known member of the group was the tiny Protungulatum, an ungulate that co-existed with the last of non-avian dinosaurs 66 million years ago; however, many authorities do not consider it a true placental, let alone an ungulate. The enigmatic dinoceratans were among the first large herbivorous mammals, although their exact relationship with other mammals is still debated with one of the theories being that they might just be distant relatives to living ungulates ; the most recent study recovers them as within the true ungulate assemblage, closest to Carolina.
In Australia, the marsupial Carpus also developed hooves similar to those of artiodactyls, an example of convergent evolution. The thick dermal armor of the Rhinoceros evolved at the same time as shearing tusks Perissodactyls were said to have evolved from the Phenacodontidae, small, sheep-sized animals that were already showing signs of anatomical features that their descendants would inherit (the reduction of digit I and V for example).
By the start of the Eocene, 55 million years ago (MYA), they had diversified and spread out to occupy several continents. Horses and tapirs both evolved in North America; rhinoceroses appear to have developed in Asia from tapir-like animals and then colonized the Americas during the middle Eocene (about 45 MYA).
Of the approximately 15 families, only three survive (McKenna and Bell, 1997; Hooker, 2005). These families were very diverse in form and size; they included the enormous brontosaurs and the bizarre chalicotheres.
The desmostylians were large amphibious quadrupeds with massive limbs and a short tail. They grew to 1.8 meters (6 ft) in length and were thought to have weighed more than 200 kilograms (440 lb).
Their fossils were known from the northern Pacific Rim, from southern Japan through Russia, the Aleutian Islands and the Pacific coast of North America to the southern tip of Baja California. Their dental and skeletal form suggests desmostylians were aquatic herbivores dependent on littoral habitats.
The South American meridiungulates contain the somewhat tapir-like protheses and astrapotheres, the metabolic litters and the diverse notoungulates. Some paleontologists have even challenged the monopoly of Meridiungulata by suggesting that the protheses may be more closely related to other mammals, such as Embrithopoda (an African order that were related to elephants) than to other South American ungulates.
A recent study based on bone collagen has found that at least litters and the notoungulates were closely related to the perissodactyls. The oldest known fossils assigned to Equine date from the early Eocene, 54 million years ago.
They had been assigned to the genus Hyracotherium, but the type species of that genus is now considered not a member of this family, but the other species have been split off into different genera. They were herbivorous browsers on relatively soft plants, and already adapted for running.
The complexity of their brains suggest that they already were alert and intelligent animals. Later species reduced the number of toes, and developed teeth more suited for grinding up grasses and other tough plant food.
Rhinocerotoids diverged from other perissodactyls by the early Eocene. Fossils of Hyrachyus exists found in North America date to this period.
Three families, sometimes grouped together as the super family Rhinocerotoidea, evolved in the late Eocene: Hyracodontidae, Amynodontidae and Rhinocerotidae, thus creating an explosion of diversity unmatched for a while until environmental changes drastically eliminated several species. The first tapir ids, such as Heptagon, appeared in the early Eocene.
They appeared very similar to modern forms, but were about half the size, and lacked the proboscis. By the Miocene, such genera as Rotavirus were almost indistinguishable from the extant species.
Asian and American tapirs were believed to have diverged around 20 to 30 million years ago; and tapirs migrated from North America to South America around 3 million years ago, as part of the Great American Interchange. Perissodactyls were the dominant group of large terrestrial browsers right through the Oligocene.
However, the rise of grasses in the Miocene (about 20 MYA) saw a major change: the artiodactyl species with their more complex stomachs were better able to adapt to a coarse, low-nutrition diet, and soon rose to prominence. Nevertheless, many perissodactyl species survived and prospered until the late Pleistocene (about 10,000 years ago) when they faced the pressure of human hunting and habitat change.
The artiodactyls were thought to have evolved from a small group of condylarths, Arctocyonidae, which were unspecialized, superficially raccoon-like to bear-like omnivores from the Early Paleocene (about 65 to 60 million years ago). They had relatively short limbs lacking specializations associated with their relatives (e.g. reduced side digits, fused bones, and hooves), and long, heavy tails.
Their primitive anatomy makes it unlikely that they were able to run down prey, but with their powerful proportions, claws, and long canines, they may have been able to overpower smaller animals in surprise attacks. Evidently these mammals soon evolved into two separate lineages: the mesonychians and the artiodactyls.
Mesonychians were depicted as “wolves on hooves” and were the first major mammalian predators, appearing in the Paleocene. Early mesonychids had five digits on their feet, which probably rested flat on the ground during walking (centigrade locomotion), but later mesonychids had four digits that ended in tiny hooves on all of their toes and were increasingly well adapted to running.
Like running members of the even-toed ungulates, mesonychids (Achaean, for example) walked on their digits (digitigrade locomotion). Mesonychians fared very poorly at the close of the Eocene epoch, with only one genus, Congolese, surviving into the Early Oligocene epoch, as the climate changed and fierce competition arose from the better adapted credits.
The first artiodactyls looked like today's chevrons or pigs: small, short-legged creatures that ate leaves and the soft parts of plants. Nevertheless, artiodactyls were far from dominant at that time: the perissodactyls were much more successful and far more numerous.
Artiodactyls survived in niche roles, usually occupying marginal habitats, and it is presumably at that time that they developed their complex digestive systems, which allowed them to survive on lower-grade food. These animals had unusual triangular teeth very similar to those of primitive cetaceans.
This is why scientists long believed that cetaceans evolved from a form of mesonychid. Today, many scientists believe cetaceans evolved from the same stock that gave rise to hippopotamuses.
This hypothesized ancestral group likely split into two branches around 54 million years ago. One branch would evolve into cetaceans, possibly beginning about 52 million years ago with the proto-whale Pakicetus and other early cetacean ancestors collectively known as Archaeoceti, which eventually underwent aquatic adaptation into the completely aquatic cetaceans.
The other branch became the anthracotheres, a large family of four-legged beasts, the earliest of whom in the late Eocene would have resembled skinny hippopotamuses with comparatively small and narrow heads. All branches of the anthracotheres, except that which evolved into Hippopotamidae, became extinct during the Pliocene without leaving any descendants.
Consequentially, new theories in cetacean evolution hypothesize that whales and their ancestors escaped predation, not competition, by slowly adapting to the ocean. Ungulates were in high diversity in response to sexual selection and ecological events; the majority of ungulates lack a collar bone.
Terrestrial ungulates were for the most part herbivores, with some of them being grazers. However, there were exceptions to this as pigs, peccaries, hippos and cookers were known to have an omnivorous diet.
Some cetaceans were the only modern ungulates that were carnivores; baleen whales consume tiny animals in relation to their body size, such as small species of fish and krill ; toothed whales, depending on the species, can consume a wide range of species: squid, fish, sharks, and other species of mammals such as seals and other whales. In terms of ecosystem ungulates have colonized all corners of the planet, from mountains to the ocean depths ; grasslands to deserts and some have been domesticated by humans.
Ungulates have developed specialized adaptations, especially in the areas of cranial appendages, dentition, and leg morphology including the modification of the straggles (one of the ankle bones at the end of the lower leg) with a short, robust head. Cloven hooves of Roe Deer (Capreolus), with dew castle hoof is the tip of a toe of an ungulate mammal, strengthened by a thick horny (keratin) covering.
The hoof consists of a hard or rubbery sole, and a hard wall formed by a thick nail rolled around the tip of the toe. The weight of the animal is normally borne by both the sole and the edge of the hoof wall.
Hooves grow continuously, and were constantly worn down by use. In most modern ungulates, the radius and ulna were fused along the length of the forelimb; early ungulates, such as the arctocyonids, did not share this unique skeletal structure.
The fusion of the radius and ulna prevents an ungulate from rotating its forelimb. While the two orders of ungulates colloquial names were based on the number of toes of their members (“odd-toed” for the perissodactyls and “even-toed” for the terrestrial artiodactyls), it is not an accurate reason they were grouped.
Tapirs have four toes in the front, yet they were members of the “odd-toed” order; peccaries and modern cetaceans were members of the “even-toed” order, yet peccaries have three toes in the front and whales were an extreme example as they have flippers instead of hooves. Scientists had classified them according to the distribution of their weight to their toes.
Perissodactyls have a metabolic foot meaning that the weight is distributed on the third toe on all legs thanks to the plane symmetry of their feet. There has been reduction of toes from the common ancestor, with the classic example being horses with their single hooves.
In consequence, there was an alternative name for the perissodactyls the nearly obsolete Estonia. Terrestrial artiodactyls have a parabolic foot meaning that the weight is distributed on the third and the fourth toe on all legs.
The majority of these mammals have cloven hooves, with two smaller ones known as the dewclaws that were located further up on the leg. The earliest cetaceans (the archdioceses), also have this characteristic in the addition of also having both an straggles and cuboid bone in the ankle, which were further diagnostic traits of artiodactyls.
In modern cetaceans, the front limbs have become pectoral fins and the hind parts were internal and reduced. Occasionally, the genes that code for longer extremities cause a modern cetacean to develop miniature legs (known as atavism).
The main method of moving is an up-and-down motion with the tail fin, called the fluke, which is used for propulsion, while the pectoral fins together with the entire tail section provide directional control. All modern cetaceans still retain their digits despite the external appearance suggesting otherwise.
Most ungulates have developed reduced canine teeth and specialized molars, including abundant (low, rounded cusps) and hypsodont (high crowned) teeth. The development of hypsodonty has been of particular interest as this adaptation was strongly associated with the spread of grasslands during the Miocene about 25 million years.
As forest biomes declined, grasslands spread, opening new niches for mammals. Many ungulates switched from browsing diets to grazing diets, and possibly driven by abrasive silica in grass, hypsodonty became common.
However, recent evidence ties the evolution of hypsodonty to open, gritty habitats and not the grass itself. Some ungulates completely lack upper incisors and instead have a dental pad to assist in browsing.
It can be found in camels, ruminants, and some toothed whales; modern baleen whales were remarkable in that they have baleen instead to filter out the krill from the water. On the other spectrum teeth have been evolved as weapons or sexual display seen in pigs and peccaries, some species of deer, musk deer, hippopotamuses, beaked whales and the Narwhal, with its long canine tooth.
Cranial appendages Velvet covers a growing antler and provides it with blood, supplying oxygen and nutrients. Ungulates evolved a variety of cranial appendages that today can be found in corvids (except musk deer).
In oxen and antelope, the size and shape of the horns vary greatly, but the basic structure is always a pair of simple bony protrusions without branches, often having a spiral, twisted or fluted form, each covered in a permanent sheath of keratin. The unique horn structure is the only unambiguous morphological feature of bodies that distinguishes them from other pecans.
Male horn development has been linked to sexual selection, while the presence of horns in females is likely due to natural selection. The horns of female bodies were thought to have evolved for defense against predators or to express territoriality, as nonterritorial females, which were able to use cry psis for predator defense, often do not have horns.
The horns rest on the nasal ridge of the animals' skull. Nevertheless, fertile does from other species of deer have the capacity to produce antlers on occasion, usually due to increased testosterone levels.
Each antler grows from an attachment point on the skull called a pedicle. Antlers were considered one of the most exaggerated cases of male secondary sexual traits in the animal kingdom, and grow faster than any other mammal bone.
Growth occurs at the tip, and is initially cartilage, which is mineralized to become bone. In most cases, the bone at the base is destroyed by osteoclasts and the antlers fall off at some point.
As a result of their fast growth rate, antlers were considered a handicap since there is an incredible nutritional demand on deer to re-grow antlers annually, and thus can be honest signals of metabolic efficiency and food gathering capability. Ossicles were horn -like (or antler -like) protuberances that can be found on the heads of giraffes and male okapis today.
They were similar to the horns of antelopes and cattle, save that they were derived from ossified cartilage, and that the ossicles remain covered in skin and fur, rather than horn. Each “horn” of the pronghorn is composed of a slender, laterally flattened blade of bone that grows from the frontal bones of the skull, forming a permanent core.
As in the Giraffe, skin covers the bony cores, but in the pronghorn it develops into a gelatinous sheath which is shed and regrown on an annual basis. Unlike the horns of the family Bovine, the horn sheaths of the pronghorn were branched, each sheath possessing a forward-pointing tine (hence the name pronghorn).
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Look up ungulate in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. They are an extremely well-known and economically important group that include animals such as horses, camels, cows, sheep, goats, deer, pigs, giraffes, hippos, rhinos and many more.
Cows, sheep, goats, buffalo, deer, giraffes, pigs and camels are just a few of the many even-toed ungulates that currently exist on Earth. Almost all ungulates are herbivores, and they have evolved ways to break down difficult compounds in plants that would be toxic to other mammals such as humans.
A number of odd-toed ungulates are tremendous runners especially those from the family Equine which includes horses, zebra, donkeys, Onsager and King. Wild equips tend to live in open habitats such as grasslands where predators are easier to spot and there is plenty of space for an escape.
Horses are the greatest runners of the equips and have played an important role in human history. Several hypotheses attempt to explain the function of the zebra’s stripes including causing confusion amongst predators, camouflage within tall grass, disturbing the sight of tsetse flies and helping to recognize individuals.
Many people find the rhinoceros to be one of the most intriguing of all mammals due to its share size, large horns, and thick armor-like skin. They live in tropical and subtropical climates in a range of habitats including grasslands, savannas, wetlands and forests. Rhinos are territorial herbivores and can weigh up to 3000 kg.
The most characteristic feature of tapirs is their elongated trunk-like nose which is used to pick up leaves and as a snorkel while they are swimming. The artiodactyls are found in every continent except Australia and Antarctica and in some of the coldest, hottest and driest environments on Earth.
The even-toed ungulates have evolved arguably the best digestive system of any mammal in order to cope with the tough compounds found in the plant tissue they survive on. Many species of even-toed ungulates, such as cattle, sheep and deer, are of great economic importance and the foundations of multi-billion dollar industries.
The animals of the suborder Ruminants, which includes all even-toed ungulates except the camel and pig families, have large chambered stomachs where food is held and undergoes microbial fermentation. Microorganisms in their stomachs possess enzymes that can split tough cellulose compounds found in plant tissue.
The fermentation of food in the stomach by microbes improves digestion by releasing proteins, carbohydrates and lipids from plant tissue; and the nitrogen released during the breakdown of cellulose is used by gut microbes to produce proteins which are later digested in the animal’s intestines. Cows, sheep, goats, bison, buffalo, antelopes, ox and many other animals belong to this large family of 143 species.
One set of horns will span the entire life of an animal and in many species they will never stop growing until death. Other bodies include impalas, wildebeests, springboks, gazelles, ibex, tar, chamois, onyx and water buck.
They possess an immensely long neck and legs but still manage to perform tasks such as running with an impressive amount of ability. The distribution of giraffes is limited to Africa, south of the Saharan desert, and they mostly inhabit savanna type environments.
Giraffes belong to the family Giraffe which includes one other genus of animal called Okapi, commonly known as okapi. They are found naturally in Asia, Africa and Europe, although the domesticated species are now distributed around the world. Suids are omnivorous and will often scavenge on dead and decaying animals.
Llamas, alpacas and camels belong to the ungulate family Cambridge and are restricted primarily to dry environments such as deserts. Camels are found through Africa, the Middle East, India and Asia; and South America is home to llamas and alpacas.
Horses have lived on Earth for more than 50 million years, according the American Museum of Natural History. According to Scientific American, the first horses originated in North America and then spread to Asia and Europe.
The horses left in North America became extinct about 10,000 years ago and were re-introduced by colonizing Europeans. It is believed that horses were first domesticated in Asia between 3000 and 4000 B.C., according to Oklahoma State University.
Eventually, horses joined oxen as a form of animal transportation. Horses can be as big as 69 inches (175 centimeters) from hoof to shoulder and weigh as much as 2,200 lbs.
The smallest breeds of horses can be as small as 30 inches (76 centimeters) from hoof to shoulder and weigh only 120 lbs. Horses are found in almost every country in the world and every continent except Antarctica.
For example, the Abyssinian is found in Ethiopia, the Buoyancy comes from Russia, Delibes is from Georgia and Armenia, the Egyptian came from Egypt and the Colorado Ranger bred comes from the Colorado plains, according to Oklahoma State University. In the wild, horses will live in herds that consist of three to 20 animals and are lead by a mature male, which is called a stallion, according to National Geographic.
A well-fed horse eats 1 to 2 percent of its body weight in roughage, such as grass or hay, every day, according to The Humane Society. This wallpaper shows Assateague Island in Maryland and Virginia.
(Image credit: National Park Service) Horses have live births after around 11 months of gestation. Some people mistakenly call baby horses ponies.
Ponies are adult horses that are shorter than 56 inches (147 cm), according to Encyclopedia Britannica. At 2 years old, male foals are driven away from the herd by the stallion.
Kingdom: Animalia Subkingdom: Bilateral Infra kingdom: Deuterostomia Phylum: Chordata Sub phylum: Vertebrata Infra phylum: Gnathostomata Super class: Tetrapoda Class: Mammalian Subclass: Their Infra class: Eutheria Order: Perissodactyla Family: Equine Genus: Equus Species: Equus Catullus Populations have been reintroduced to China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, according to the San Diego Zoo.
When 19th-century taxonomists were sorting out the animal kingdom, they tossed horses into the biological order Ungulate along with the cattle, deer, et al. on the not-crazy assumption that their hoofs (EML>ungulate, in Latin) and overall leg structure where evidence of kinship. Later, DNA research revealed genetic similarities between seemingly unlike species, scrambling classification systems still further; elephants and manatees, once counted among the ungulates, got bumped into a more distant grouping.
Some grew to immense proportions (15-plus feet tall, 20 tons), the better to browse on tree leaves, until elephants edged them out of their habitat. Once out on the plains, its descendants eventually became the horse we recognize today, as the need to escape carnivores rewarded more streamlined hoofs and a longer stride.
They died out in North America before being reintroduced in domesticated form by Europeans, and it’s hard to see how horns would have helped them survive the food shortages brought about by climate change in the late Pleistocene era. Back here in the present, humans have become a factor in the ongoing development of rhinos, whose horns continue to attract the poachers that have already wiped out certain subspecies.
Related Topics Ungulate is a term used to refer to any type of hoofed mammal. Dear, antelope, horses, and llamas are all examples of ungulates, which can be distinguished because they walk on their toes, which have hardened into hooves through millennia of evolution.
Ungulate evolution favored fast moving animals with long legs well adapted to living on grassy plains and Savannah. Other animals on Earth including many ocean going mammals share an ancestor with ungulates, but they are not classified as such because they lack distinctive hooves.
Additional digits have shrunk and moved to the back of the foot as the animals evolved. The Hyracoidea are rodents like mammals found in Africa and Asia which walk on the tip of their toes like other ungulates.
Humans have used ungulates to provide meat, milk, and fiber for thousands of years. Ungulate species such as horses were ridden by many ancient cultures and continue to be used for recreation and transportation today.
Skeletal anatomy of a horseshoe limbs of the horse are structures made of dozens of bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support the weight of the equine body. The limbs play a major part in the movement of the horse, with the legs performing the functions of absorbing impact, bearing weight, and providing thrust.
As the horse developed as a curatorial animal, with a primary defense mechanism of running over hard ground, its legs evolved to the long, sturdy, light-weight, one-toed form seen today. Good conformation in the limbs leads to improved movement and decreased likelihood of injuries.
Structural defects, as well as other problems such as injuries and infections, can cause lameness, or movement at an abnormal gait. Injuries to and problems with horse legs can be relatively minor, such as stocking up, which causes swelling without lameness, or quite serious.
This is in contrast to even-toed ungulates, members of the order Artiodactyla, which walk on cloven hooves, or two toes. According to evolutionary theory, equine hooves and legs have evolved over millions of years to the form in which they are found today.
The original ancestors of horses had shorter legs, terminating in five-toed feet. Over millennia, a single hard hoof evolved from the middle toe, while the other toes gradually disappeared into the tiny vestigial remnants that are found today on the lower leg bones.
Prairie-dwelling equine species developed hooves and longer legs that were both sturdy and light weight to help them evade predators and cover longer distances in search of food. Forest-dwelling species retained shorter legs and three toes, which helped them on softer ground.
Approximately 35 million years ago, a global drop in temperature created a major habitat change, leading to the transition of many forests to grasslands. This led to a die-out among forest-dwelling equine species, eventually leaving the long-legged, one-toed Equus of today, which includes the horse, as the sole surviving genus of the Equidaefamily.
Skeleton of the lower forelimbEach forelimb of the horse runs from the scapula or shoulder blade to the particular bone. Each hind limb of the horse runs from the pelvis to the particular bone.
After the pelvis come the femur (thigh), patella, stifle joint, tibia, fibula, tarsal (hock) bone and joint, large metatarsal (cannon) and small metatarsal (splint) bones. Although having a small range of movement, the proximal interphalangeal joint (pastern joint) is also influential to the movement of the horse, and can change the way that various shoeing techniques affect tendons and ligaments in the legs.
Due to the horse's development as a curatorial animal (one whose main form of defense is running), its bones evolved to facilitate speed in a forward direction over hard ground, without the need for grasping, lifting or swinging. The ulna shrank in size and its top portion became the point of the elbow, while the bottom fused with the radius above the radio carpal (knee) joint, which corresponds to the wrist in humans.
A similar change occurred in the fibula bone of the hind limbs. These changes were first seen in the genus Merychippus, approximately 17 million years ago.
This is the shoulder in which provides the ease of movement as it is connected to various bones surrounding it such as the cervical vertebra (a section of the spine). 55 million years ago when the Phipps existed, the cannon bone used to be the 3rd toe of the foot.
Its fusion took place in order to increase height and power of the limb. The splint bones are also known as the 2nd and 4th metacarpal and fused 25 – 35 million years ago during the time of the Miohippus.
They provide extra strength and support of the cannon bone and used to be the 2nd and 4th toes of the foot. Firstly are the sesamoid bones that act as part of the system that allows the leg to drop as pressure is applied and spring back up as pressure is released.
Forward motion and flexion of the hind legs is achieved through the movement of the quadriceps group of muscles on the front of the femur, while the muscles at the back of the hindquarters, called the hamstring group, provide forward motion of the body and rearward extension of the hind limbs. The fetlock joint is supported by group of lower leg ligaments, tendons and bones known as the suspension apparatus.
During movement, the apparatus stores and releases energy in the manner of a spring: stretching while the joint is extended and contracting (and thus releasing energy) when the joint flexes. This provides a rebound effect, assisting the foot in leaving the ground.
This ability to use stored energy makes horses gaits more efficient than other large animals, including cattle. Horses use a group of ligaments, tendons and muscles known as the stay apparatus to “lock” major joints in the limbs, allowing them to remain standing while relaxed or asleep.
The lower part of the stay apparatus consists of the suspension apparatus, which is the same in both sets of limbs, while the upper portion differs between the fore and hind limbs. The upper portion of the stay apparatus in the forelimbs includes the major attachment, extensor and flexor muscles and tendons.
The same portion in the hind limbs consists of the major muscles, ligaments and tendons, as well as the reciprocal joints of the hock and stifle. The hoof of the horse contains over a dozen different structures, including bones, cartilage, tendons and tissues.
At the top of the hoof wall is the cerium, tissue which continually produces the horn of the outer hoof shell, which is in turn protected by the people, a thin outer layer which prevents the interior structures from drying out. The impact zone on the bottom of the hoof includes the sole, which has an outer, insensitive layer and a sensitive inner layer, and the frog, which lies between the heels and assists in shock absorption and blood flow.
The final structures are the lateral cartilages, connected to the upper coffin bone, which act as the flexible heels, allowing hoof expansion. It acts as a support and traction point, shock absorber and system for pumping blood back through the lower limb.
The pastern absorbing shock sequence of movements in which a horse takes a step with all four legs is called a stride. During each step, with each leg, a horse completes four movements: the swing phase, the grounding or impact, the support period and the thrust.
While the horse uses muscles throughout its body to move, the legs perform the functions of absorbing impact, bearing weight, and providing thrust. Good movement is sound, symmetrical, straight, free and coordinated, all of which depend on many factors, including conformation, soundness, care and training of the horse, and terrain and footing.
The proportions and length of the bones and muscles in the legs can significantly impact the way an individual horse moves. The angles of certain bones, especially in the hind leg, shoulders, and pasterns, also affect movement.
The forelegs carry the majority of the weight, usually around 60 percent, with exact percentages depending on speed and gait. Movement adds concussive force to weight, increasing the likelihood that a poorly built leg will buckle under the strain.
In the sport of dressage, horses are encouraged to shift their weight more to their hindquarters, which enables lightness of the forehand and increased collection. While the forelimbs carry the weight the hind limbs provide propulsion, due to the angle between the stifle and hock.
This angle allows the hind legs to flex as weight is applied during the stride, then release as a spring to create forward or upward movement. The range of motion and propulsion power in horses varies significantly, based on the placement of muscle attachment to bone.
The legs of a horse used for cutting, in which quick starts, stops and turns are required, will be shorter and more thickly built than those of a Thoroughbred racehorse, where forward speed is most important. However, despite the differences in bone structure needed for various uses, correct conformation of the leg remains relatively similar.
The ideal horse has legs which are straight, correctly set and symmetrical. Correct angles of major bones, clean, well-developed joints and tendons, and well-shaped, properly-proportioned hooves are also necessary for ideal conformation.
Individual horses may have structural defects, some of which lead to poor movement or lameness. Poor conformation and structural defects do not always cause lameness, however, as was shown by the champion racehorseSeabiscuit, who was considered undersized and knobby-kneed for a Thoroughbred.
Common defects of the hind limbs include the same base-wide and base-narrow stances and problems with the feet as the fore limbs, as well as multiple issues with the angle formed by the hock joint being too angled (sickle-hocked), too straight (straight behind) or having an inward deviation (cow-hocked). Feral horses are seldom found with serious conformation problems in the leg, as foals with these defects are generally easy prey for predators.
Foals raised by humans have a better chance for survival, as there are therapeutic treatments that can improve even major conformation problems. However, some of these conformation problems can be transmitted to offspring, and so these horses are a poor choice for breeding stock.
A polo pony with its legs wrapped for protectionLameness in horses is movement at an abnormal gait due to pain in any part of the body. It is frequently caused by pain to the shoulders, hips, legs or feet.
Lameness can also be caused by abnormalities in the digestive, circulatory and nervous systems. While horses with poor conformation and congenital conditions are more likely to develop lameness, trauma, infection and acquired abnormalities are also causes.
The majority of lameness is found in the forelimbs, with at least 95 percent of these cases stemming from problems in the structures from the knee down. Lameness in the hind limbs is caused by problems in the hock and/or stifle 80 percent of the time.
There are numerous issues that can occur with horses legs that may not necessarily cause lameness. Stocking up is an issue that occurs in horses that are held in stalls for multiple days after periods of activity.
Fluid collects in the lower legs, producing swelling and often stiffness. Although it does not usually cause lameness or other problems, prolonged periods of stocking up can lead to other skin issues.
A shoe boil is an injury that occurs when there is trauma to the burial sac of the elbow, causing inflammation and swelling. Multiple occurrences can cause a cosmetic sore and scar tissue, called a capped elbow, or infections.
Wind puffs, or swelling to the back of the fetlock caused by inflammation of the sheaths of the deep digital flexor tendon, appear most often in the rear legs. While horses periodically lie down for brief periods of time, a horse cannot remain lying in the equivalent of a human's bed rest because of the risk of developing sores, internal damage, and congestion.
“Functional Anatomy of the Equine Interphalangeal Joints” (PDF). ^ Lawson, San E. M.; Château, Henry; Purcell, Philippe; Dennis, Jean-Marie; Crevier-Denoix, Nathalie (May 2007).
“Effect of toe and heel elevation on calculated tendon strains in the horse and the influence of the proximal interphalangeal joint”. ^ Ferraro, Gregory L.; Stover, Susan M.; Whit comb, Mary Beth.
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. Filly : A female horse under the age of four.
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.
The horse's four legs and hooves are also unique structures. 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. An Australian study found that stabled racehorses listening to talk radio had a higher rate of gastric ulcers than horses listening to music, and racehorses stabled where a radio was played had a higher overall rate of ulceration than horses stabled where there was no radio playing.
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.
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.
The earliest known member of the family Equine was the Hyracotherium, which lived between 45 and 55 million years ago, during the Eocene 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.
Examples of these sports of partnership between human and horse include jousting, in which the main goal is for one rider to unseat the other, and burkas, a team game played throughout Central Asia, the aim being to capture a goat carcass while on horseback. 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. System natural per Regina trial natural :second classes, or dines, genera, species, cum characterizes, differential, synonyms, Louis.
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Wiki species has information related to Equus Catullus This page is bursting with interesting facts and trivia about horses.
Below you can find all kinds of interesting facts about equine vision, height, teeth, splint bones, and even horse birthdays! Research indicates horses can perceive blue and green tones, and color variations based on them.
On the underside of a horse's hoof is a triangular shaped area called the “frog.” When pushed on the frog has a firm, rubbery feel that yields to pressure.
A healthy, functioning frog that makes good contact with the ground is vital to the hoof and leg health of a horse. Horses have one hoof at the end of each leg, which makes them odd-toed ungulates.
Cattle have two hooves at the end of each leg, which makes them even-toed ungulates. A horse is usually considered to be 14.2 (14 hands, 2 inches) or taller when mature.
While scientists aren't sure why mammals perform the freshmen posture, it seems to be a way for the animal to trap and analyze interesting odors. The coronary band is the source from which the hoof wall grows.
In the photo below you can see that this mare's leg has a scar resulting from a deep cut that extended into the coronary band. In this case, even though the growth of the hoof wall was affected, she was sound for light use.
Below: The blue arrows point to the coronary band circling the hoof. “Vestigial” means something that has lost most or all of its original function through evolution.
Since wolf teeth typically have poorly developed roots, they are usually quickly and easily removed. However, the blue arrow is pointing to the approximate location where a wolf tooth would be found.
It is common for the grinding surfaces of a horse's teeth to become uneven and sharp, greatly reducing its ability to properly process food and also possibly cutting the horse inside its mouth. For that reason a horse's teeth should be periodically checked to see if they need floated (filed so that the grinding surfaces become level and smooth again).
This is another good reason a horse's teeth should periodically be checked to see if they need floated. The “interdental space” is an area in a horse's mouth, both on the upper and lower jaws, where there is not any teeth.
In the photo below, the yellow arrows are pointing to the interdental space. This is done to make the chewing surfaces relatively flat or smooth, and to prevent sharp edges from forming and cutting the inside of the horse's mouth.
The type of file used for this is called a “float,” which is where the procedure gets its name. This particular horse is handled very seldom and is therefore is stocks, blindfolded, and lightly sedated.
An equine dental spectrum is keeping the horse's mouth open. The veterinarian will file, or float, the teeth on both the upper and lower jaws.
In contrast, cattle, sheep, goats, bison, deer, elk, caribou, moose, and camels are “ruminants” which means (among other things) they have four digestive chambers instead of just one stomach. The normal horse’s small intestine is about 70 feet long.
The normal horse's large intestine is about 12 feet long. The average horse's heart weighs approximately 9 or 10 pounds.
The great New Zealand / Australian racehorse, Par Lap, had a heart that weighed 14 pounds. Horses produce approximately 10 gallons of saliva a day.
The tallest horse on record was a Shire named Samson. The record for the highest jump made by a horse is held by a horse named Has who jumped 8 feet, 1 and 1/4 inches on February 5th, 1949 in Via del Mar, Chile.
In comparison, cow udders are made up of four quarters (each with its own teat), not two halves. Even though male and female mules are almost always sterile, male mules are routinely castrated (gelded) in order to prevent the behavioral problems inherent in many studs.
In the information above we mentioned that a mule was a cross between a male donkey and a female horse; and that a Hanna was the cross between a male horse and a female donkey. A donkey and a burro are both classified as Equus Africans sinus which means they are one and the same.
Their upper lips are very sensitive and capable of feeling the smallest of differences in objects. This opening is usually visible to the naked eye inside the horse's nostril.
Below: The yellow arrow is pointing to the nasolacrimal duct inside the left nostril of a horse. In unusual cases, a horse is sometimes born without an opening for the nasolacrimal duct in the nostril.
In these cases symptoms commonly include excessive tearing in the corner of the eye. Scientists believe that the first known ancestor of the horse lived about 50 million years ago.
In the photo below the red arrow is pointing to a small bulge that is a splint bone that has “popped.” A splint might become detached due to a nutritional imbalance or trauma.
In most cases a popped splint will cause mild pain to the horse right after it separates from the cannon, but when the splint has “set” or healed it is completely pained free and is not a health or soundness concern. Some images and/or other content on this website are copyright © their respective owners.
Those ungulates having an odd number of toes belong to the order Perissodactyla. This includes pigs (four-toed) and two-toed ruminants such as camels, giraffes, antelope, deer, cattle, sheep, and goats.
The size extremes among ungulates range from the seven-ton male African elephant to the rabbit sized diked antelope. Horses, sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs are mostly domestic ungulates.
Ungulate appearance varies widely, but there are common physical and digestive characteristics. The third and fourth toes provide support, and end in protective hoofs.
They eat only plants, and have specialized digestive tracts with three or four chambers in their stomachs. They have hard pads in their upper jaws, which help the lower teeth to grind food.
Male deer have solid, branched antlers (temporary horns) made of bone, which are shed and regrown yearly. Dear inhabit Asia, Europe, the Americas, and North Africa.
Both deer and antelope live in woods, prairies, marshes, mountains, and tundra. Deer and antelope eat twigs, leaves, bark, and grass.
Males are over sixteen feet tall and both sexes have short horns. Their flexible tongues and upper lips pull leaves-their main food source-from trees.
They have short legs, large heads, no horns, small eyes and ears, and nostrils that close underwater. Brazilian tapirs inhabit South American forests from Colombia and Venezuela to Paraguay and Brazil.
The tapirs have stout bodies and short necks and legs, well adapted for pushing through dense forests, and have short, rigid manes, which protect them from predators. Tapirs are nocturnal herbivores, spending much of the night eating grass, grasses, aquatic vegetation, leaves, buds, soft twigs, fruits, and plant shoots.
The tapirs roam the forest and can climb river banks and mountains. Excellent swimmers, they spend a lot of time in the water, eating and cooling off.
Ovid horns are spiral, straight, tall, or grow from the sides of the head and then up. Modern cattle come from European, African, and Asian imports.
Sheep were domesticated eleven thousand years ago from Asiatic mouflons. The eight hundred domesticated breeds provide wool for clothing, meat, and milk.
Goats, closely related to sheep, have shorter tails, different horn shape, and beards. They have good wide-angle day and night vision and a keen sense of smell.
Zebras have black or brown and white, vertically striped coats. The other HD family members are brown, black, gray, white, and mixtures of these colors.
Many of them are very sociable and live in large herds, including many bodies, horses, deer, antelope, and zebras. In other cases, the animals live in smaller family groups, or are solitary, coming together only to breed.
Young goats, sheep, and cattle join herds or live in solitary fashion after they are weaned. Domesticated, they provide meat, milk, hides, and sinew for human use.
In addition, ungulates are biologically important because as herbivores, they prevent overgrowth of all sorts of plants by eating them.