58 Wild Facts about Horses | FactRetriever.com

58 Wild Facts about Horses

By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published March 31, 2017
  • Horses can sleep standing up by locking their leg joints.[11]
  • Horses experience REM (rapid eye movement) during sleep, which means they most likely dream.[26]
  • The Hindus associate the horse with the cosmos, and a white horse was considered the last incarnation of Vishnu.[26]
  • The word “chivalry” comes from the French cheval, meaning horse.[4]
  • Some horses are able to figure out how to undo the doors of other horses and let them out.[11]
  • Hippophagy is the practice of eating horsemeat.[5]
  • The earliest member of the horse family is the appropriately named “dawn horse,” or “Eohippus”
  • The earliest member of the horse family is the appropriately named “dawn horse,” or “Eohippus.” It dates back 55 million years.[26]
  • The horse head in the famous horse scene in The Godfather was actually a real, decapitated horse head.[21]
  • Unlike humans, horses have a functioning appendix that digests leaves, leading some scientist to believe that the human appendix may have had a similar function.[11]
  • Horses drink a lot of water, at least 25 gallons of water a day. In fact, water makes up 50% of a horse's total body weight.[11]
  • A horse’s teeth never stop growing.[11]
  • Feeding a horse cut grass can give them colic.[11]
  • In the early 20th century, cars were seen as an environmentally friendly solution to horse drawn carriages because horse poop and carcasses polluted the city. One city horse could produce between 15 and 30 pounds of manure day.[3]
  • In 1900, there were 15,000 horses in New York City. They produced enough manure in one year to create a pile 175 feet high, covering an acre of land, and breeding 16 billion flies.[3]
  • A horse has only one functional toe on each foot and its thick toenail is actually the hoof. It makes contact with the ground like a ballet dancer en pointe.[14]
  • In literature, art, and dream theory, the horse is often a symbol imbued with various meanings, ranging from power to beauty and even sexual prowess.[26]
  • In riding a horse, we borrow freedom.

    - Helen Thompson

  • The goddess Demeter (the goddess of fertility, grain, and the pure) had as her image a black mare’s head, and her priestesses were considered her “foals.”[21]
  • Horses have a strong band of muscles around their esophagus. This band is so strong that a horse’s stomach would burst before it would vomit.[13]
  • Though the word “hippopotamus” means “river horse,” a hippo is actually more closely related to the pig than the horse.[2]
  • Horses, zebras, and asses (as well as other equids) belong to the Order Perissodactyla, which is Greek from “odd-numbered finger or toe.[11]
  • The oldest animal carving ever found is of horse. It dates back 31,000 years in southern Germany.[26]
  • This is also called the "the flehmen response"
  • When a horse curls up its upper lip and bares its teeth, it’s not laughing at you; it’s directing scents toward a special olfactory gland in the back of its nasal passage.[27]
  • There are about 58 million horses in the world.[11]
  • The horses’ closest relative is not the cow, pig, or goat--but the rhinoceros.[19]
  • Arab horses are one of the strongest endurance runners in the animal kingdom and are capable of running over 100 miles (160 km) without rest.[11]
  • In some countries, horsemeat is considered a delicacy. In France, for example, menus often feature horsemeat, horse brains, and horse heart.[16]
  • Author John Trotwood Moore once states “Wherever Man has left his footprint in the long ascent from barbarism or civilization, we find the hoof print of a horse beside it.”[26]
  • According to the Bible, four horses will usher in the apocalypse.[8]
  • A horse’s brain weighs about 22 oz., which is about half the weight of a human.[26]
  • A horse’s teeth take up more room in its head than its brain.[11]
  • The Arabian horse is not just beautiful, but their skeletal structure differs from other horses. Its ribs are wider, stronger, and deeper than other horses. They also have fewer lumbar bones and tail vertebrae.[11]
  • Arabian horses are one of the oldest breeds
  • Equinophobia is the fear of horses.[15]
  • Humans domesticated horses about 3,500 B.C. In comparison, humans domesticated dogs about 14,000 years ago and cats about 8,500 years ago.[11]
  • Every horse in North America is a descendant of European horses. Even wild horses in North America are horses whose ancestors escaped from captivity.[26]
  • The horse is one of the 12 Chinese signs of the Zodiac. Those who are born in the hear of the horse are thought to be intelligent, free-spirited, and independent.[24]
  • The American quarter horse is the world’s most popular horse breed.[11]
  • There are many crazy horse laws still on the books; for example, in several cities throughout the United States, newly married men were not allowed to ride alone, unless he had been married longer than 12 months.[23]
  • The oldest horse on record was “Old Billy"
  • The oldest horse on record was “Old Billy.” He died in 1822 at the ripe old age of 62 years. Most horses live to around 25 years.[26]
  • Any horse that is shorter than 14.2 hands (58 inches tall at the withers), is considered a pony.[26]
  • Male and female horses have different number of teeth. Males have 44, while females have 36-40.[11]
  • There is only one single-sub-species of horse that has never been domesticated by humans. These are the endangered Przewalski’s horse, which is native to Mongolia.[26]
  • While humans have just 3 ear muscles, horses have 10. This means they can move their ears 180 degrees and can single out a special area to listen to. They also use their ears to communicate with other horses.[11]
  • The Akhal-Teke horse is considered a “supermodel” horse because of its beautiful, shimmering metallic coat. Unfortunately, the breed was almost wiped out when the Soviet Union began slaughtering them for meat.[7]
  • Over the course of WW II, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union used more the 6 million horses. Millions of horses and donkeys died during service on all sides.[9]
  • The term “horse” is derived from the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) kurs, which is the source of the Latin currere, “to run.” This replaced the original PIE root ekwo from which the Greek hippos and Latin equus derived, both meaning “horse.” This dual etymology is likely because ancient cultures were reluctant to utter the actual root or name of an animal held sacred for the Indo-European religion.[12]
  • Famous owner/horse partnerships that helped change world history include Alexander the Great and his horse Bucephalus (“ox head”), El Cid and Babieca (“stupid”), and Napoleon and Marengo (named after a battle) who after its death, had its skeleton displayed in London.[10]
  • A horse’s eyes are about 9 times larger than that of a human. In fact, horses have the largest eyes of any land mammal. They can also see nearly 360 degrees.[26]
  • Horses have the largest eyes of any land mammal
  • A horse’s teeth are a good indicator of its age. Hence, St. Jerome (A.D. 400), who never accepted payment for his writings, penned the famous adage “Never inspect the teeth of a gift horse,” which became the more familiar “Never look a gift horse in the mouth.”[11]
  • Horses have five highly developed senses: taste, touch, hearing, smell, and sight. They also have an enigmatic sixth sense, heightened perception, which is very rare in humans.[11]
  • There are nearly 160 distinctive breeds and types of horses around the world, but the Arabian horse is unique in that it is the purest of all of the breeds.[26]
  • Islam is said to have been “founded on the hoof prints of the Arabian horse,” and horse care was even incorporated into the sacred Hadith. The Prophet Mohammed is reportedly to have ascended to heaven in a halo of fire on a horse-like creature.[6][18]
  • In a herd, one gender is not always dominant of another; for example, a female may rank higher than a male in some cases, and a male may rank higher than a female in other cases.[25]
  • A horse's hoof acts as a type of pump
  • When a horse puts pressure on its hoof, the blood is squeezed up the leg into the veins, thus acting as a type of pump.[11]
  • The first cloned horse was a Haflinger mare in 2003.[1]
  • Horses produce about 10 gallons of saliva—per day.[22]
  • A horse’s heart typically weighs between 9 or 10 pounds and is about the size of a basketball. A human heart weighs about 11 ounces and is about the size of a clenched fist.[11]
  • Horses cannot breathe through their mouth, only through their nose.[17]
  • While technically not a horse, a unicorn is the national animal of Scotland. According to mythology, unicorns hated lions, which were the symbol of British royals. Unicorns also symbolize power and grace.[20]
References

1Bhattacharya, Shaoni. "World’s First Cloned Horse is Born." New Scientist. August 6, 2003. Accessed: March 31, 2017.

2Britt, Robert Roy. "Unlikely Cousins: Whales and Hippos." Live Science. January 25, 2004. Accessed: March 31, 2017.

3Carriage Horses History.” Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages. 2015. Accessed: June 29, 2016

4"Chivalry." Online Etymology Dictionary. Accessed: March 31, 2017.

5Dreher, Rod. "Hippophagy." The American Conservative. February 26, 2013. Accessed: March 31, 2017.

6Edwards, Elwyn Hartley. The Encyclopedia of the Horse. New York, NY: Dorling Kindersly, Inc., 1994.

7Filipov, David. "A Long Way to Go." Boston: World News. April 5, 1998. Accessed: March 31, 2017.

8Flegg, Columbia Graham. An Introduction to Reading the Apocalypse. St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1999.

9"Forgotten Heroes: A Million Horses Were Sent to Fight in the Great War: Only 62,000 Came Back." Daily Mail. November 9, 2007. Accessed: March 31, 2017.

10Gloss, Molly. The Hearts of Horses. New York, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007.

11Harris, Moira C. K.I.S.S. Guide to Caring for Your Horse. New York, NY: DK Publishing, Inc., 2002.

12"Horse." Online Etymology Dictionary. Accessed: March 31, 2017.

13Horses Cannot Throw Up.” USA Today. May 3, 2001. Accessed: June 26, 2016. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/science/wonderquest/2001-05-02-horse-throw-up.htm

14Horses Run on Toenails, Magnets Zap Data, Kill Mosquitoes While They’re Young.” USA Today. October 4, 2003. Accessed: June 29, 2016. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/science/wonderquest/2003-10-04-wonderquest_x.htm

15"Insight into Equinophobia - The Fear of Horses." Health Guide Info. Accessed: March 31, 2017.

16Johnson, Boris. "They Love Horse Meat in France, So Why Do We Turn Our Noses Up?Telegraph. February 11, 2013. Accessed: March 31, 2017.

17Marlin, David. "The Airways and Lungs." The Horse. November 1, 2007. Accessed: March 31, 2017.

18McBane, Susan and Helen Douglas-Cooper. Horse Facts. London, England: Quarto Publishing, 1992.

19"Meet the Relatives." American Museum of Natural History. Accessed: March 31, 2017.

20O'Niell, Emma. "Why is the Unicorn Scotland’s National Animal?" Scotsman. November 19, 2015. Accessed: May 8, 2017.

21Rawlings, Nate. "The Anniversary You Can’t Refuse: 40 Things You Didn’t Know About The Godfather." Time. March 14, 2012. Accessed: March 31, 2017.

22Sellnow, Les. "The Equine Digestive System: A Food Factory." The Horse. October 1, 2006. Accessed: March 31, 2017.

23"Strange Horse Laws." Equerry. Accessed: March 31, 2017.

24"The Year of the Horse — Fortune, Career, Health, and Love Prospects in 2017." China Highlights. Accessed: March 31, 2017.

25Waring, George H. Horse Behavior. 2nd Ed. Norwich, NY: Noyes Publications/William Andrew Publishing, 2003.

26Whitaker Julie with Ian Whitelaw. The Horse: A Miscellany of Equine Knowledge. New York, NY: Thomas Dunne Books, 2007.

27"Why Does My Horse Curl Up His Lip?" Pro Equine Grooms. Accessed: March 31, 2017.

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