Horses and humans go way back, literally! Until the age of automobiles, these noble steeds were an essential part of everyday life for humans. Ponies would pull carts to markets, draw carriages for the wealthy, and some stallions would even compete in some pretty horrifying sports! And that’s not forgetting the tremendous effort little mares have shown on the battlefields! So, stay on your staddle while we take you on a trot around these 70 facts about horses.
Fact 1: “Old Billy”, holds the record for being the oldest horse, he lived to the age of 62.
- Sugar Puff, who was listed in the Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest living pony, died in 2007 at the age of 56.
Fact 2: Horses typically sleep while standing up.
- But they do lie down when they require REM sleep.
Fact 3: A newborn horse, or foal, can stand up just 30 minutes after being born.
- Within an hour, the foal will attempt to nurse.
Fact 4: In the wild, horses can live up to 40 years of age.
- Hurt or disabled horses are protected by the herd, and can live remarkably long lives in comparison to other disabled animals that live in the wild.
Fact 5: With eyeballs measuring 1.34 inches across, horses have the largest eyes of any land mammal.
- But the largest eye in the world belong to the Giant Squid, with eyes up to 10 inches in diameter, which is the size of a dinner plate.
Fact 6: When horses look like they’re laughing, they’re actually engaging in a special nose-enhancing technique known as “flehmen”.
- They do this to determine whether a smell is good or bad.
Fact 7: It’s possible to tell the difference between a female and a male horse by the number of their teeth.
- Males have 40, while female horses have 36.
Fact 8: Currently, the earliest known horse fossil is ‘Sifrhippus sandae’.
- For many years, the ‘Dawn horse’ was believed to be the first horse ever, but now fossils of earlier horses are being discovered regularly.
Fact 9: Humans have been domesticating horses since 4000 BC.
- Domestication of horses is believed to have been widespread by 3000 BC.
Fact 10: The hooves of horses are made up of a tough protein called Keratin.
- It’s the same stuff human hair and nails are made of.
Fact 11: In 1872, Leland Stanford argued, when a horse gallops, at some point during the gallop all 4 of the horse’s legs will be off the ground at the same time.
- She was proven right by Eadweard Muybridge, who used 24 cameras and specialised photographs of a racehorse, to demonstrate that the legs are all off the floor for a split second when a horse gallops.
Fact 12: Horses are herbivores that feed on grass and hay.
- They can’t eat meat since their livers are not designed to flush out the residues of meat protein.
Fact 13: Horse population rose from 7.8 million to 25 million from 1867 to 1920.
- It was an indirect effect of the rise of the automobile.
Fact 14: Horses have 360° vision.
- Much like chameleons.
Fact 15: Horses can gallop to speeds of 40-48 kilometres per hour.
- The world record for a horse galloping over a short, sprint distance, is 88 kilometres per hour.
Fact 16: The only truly wild horse species left in existence is the Przewalski’s horse.
- They are found mainly in Mongolia.
Fact 17: Baby horses have different names.
- Female foals are called ‘fillies’, while male foals are called ‘colts’.
Fact 18: Horses have a total of 205 bones in their bodies.
- Humans have 206 bones in their bodies!
Fact 19: At least one horse will serve as a lookout when in a pack.
- A group of horses will not sleep at the same time. To protect the team, at least one of them will stay awake and be on guard duty, and will make sure they wake everyone up if danger is imminent.
Fact 20: A group of horses is called a team, harras, or string.
- But when the group is kept primarily for breeding, the group is called a Stud.
Fact 21: There are over 60 million horses in the world.
- The numbers include both wild and domesticated horses.
Fact 22: They can’t see in full colour.
- Horses naturally see blue and green colours, but cannot distinguish red.
Fact 23: Horses have small brains, weighing only around 22 ounces.
- That’s half the size of an average human brain.
Fact 24: A male horse is called a ‘stallion’.
- A female horse, on the other hand, is called a ‘mare’.
Fact 25: You will never see a horse vomit.
- Since they lack the gag reflex unlike many mammals they can’t vomit.
Fact 26: There are over 300 different kinds of horses in the world.
- That’s just a little less than the number of dog species in existence, which is 340.
Fact 27: Horses have their own unit of measurement.
- Instead of being measured in meters or inches, horses are measured in hands. One hand is equivalent to 4 inches.
Fact 28: Samson, the shire horse, is the tallest horse to have been recorded.
- He stood at a height of over 21.2 hands.
Fact 29: Horses love their water.
- They will drink a minimum of 25 gallons of water each day!
Fact 30: Prometea was a successfully cloned foal, that was born in 2003, in Italy.
- According to reports, cloning could help limit the risk that is placed upon endangered horse species’ and could help to find cures for difficult horse-related diseases.
Fact 31: Horses have been used by the police since the 17th century.
- Although no longer as frequent as it was before, hundreds of horses are still being used by the police today.
Fact 32: It is noted, if a lucky horseshoe is hung upright, then all the luck of the shoe will remain in the horseshoe.
- On the other hand, if you hang your lucky horseshoe upside down, it pours luck over all those who enter your home.
Fact 33: In France, horse meat is quite an expensive delicacy.
- The French love to eat horse heart and brains, they also like to eat frogs legs too!
Fact 34: Horses have an excellent memory.
- Research even suggests that their memory rivals that of an elephant’s.
Fact 35: The Hindus associate horses with the cosmos.
- According to them, the white horse was considered the last incarnation of Vishnu.
Fact 36: Horses used to tow boats and barges along canals.
- This was during the early days of the Canal age, from about 1740.
Fact 37: A famous scene in the film “The Godfather” featured a real horse’s head.
- They wanted something natural… we’ll leave this one there…
Fact 38: Unlike humans, horses have a functioning appendix that digests leaves.
- This led scientists to believe that the human appendix may have had a similar function in the past.
Fact 39: In the early 20th century, one city horse could produce between 15 and 30 pounds of manure per day.
- Cars were later seen as an ‘environmentally friendly solution’ to horse-drawn carriages because horse poo and carcasses polluted cities.
Fact 40: In 1900, New York City was home to 15,000 horses.
- These horses produced enough manure in one year to create a pile 175 feet high, covering an acre of land, and allowed for the breeding of 16 billion flies.
Fact 41: In literature, art, and dream theory, the horse is often a symbol imbued with various meanings.
- Horses represented power, beauty and even sexual prowess.
Fact 42: The goddess of fertility, Demeter, is sometimes represented as a black mare.
- Her priestesses were also considered her “foals”.
Fact 43: Horses have a strong band of muscles located in their oesophagus.
- This band is so strong that a horse’s stomach would burst before it would vomit.
Fact 44: Horses, along with zebras, and asses, belong to the ‘Order Perissodactyla’.
- The term “Perissodactyla” means “odd-numbered finger or toe” in Greek.
Fact 45: The horses’ closest relative is the fearsome rhinoceros.
- White rhinos and black rhinos live in the grasslands and floodplains of eastern and southern Africa.
Fact 46: Author John Trotwood Moore once said that “Wherever Man has left his footprint in the long ascent from barbarism or civilization, we find the hoofprint of a horse beside it.”
- Referencing to how horses have been domesticated by humans for a very long time.
Fact 47: Wild horses gather into groups of 3-20 horses.
- A mature stallion often leads the group which consists of mares and foals.
Fact 48: A famous derby horse, “Uncle Mo” is now worth $100 million.
- Mike Repole, the horse’s owner says that it’s Uncle Mo’s super sperm that made the horse so expensive.
Fact 49: Horses produce approximately 10 gallons of saliva a day.
- A horse’s saliva plays a vital role in the digestive system of the animal. Equine saliva has 2 prime functions, to act as a slickening agent for chewed food as it passes through the oesophagus, and to buffer the contents of the stomach.
Fact 50: Located on the underside of a horse’s hoof is a triangular “frog”.
- It acts as a shock absorber and pumps blood back up the horse’s leg.
Fact 51: Arabian horses are considered to be one of the strongest endurance runners in the animal kingdom.
- In fact, they can run a 160-kilometre distance without having a rest!
Fact 52: The fear of horses is called equinophobia.
- Equinophobia is derived from the Greek word “phóbos” meaning “fear” and the Latin word “equus” which means “horse”.
Fact 53: All horses in Northern America have descended from European horses.
- Even wild horses in Northern America are horses whose ancestors escaped from captivity.
Fact 54: The record for the highest jump done by a horse is 8 ft 1.25 inches by Huaso ex-Faithful, ridden by Capt. Alberto Larraguibel Morales.
- The jump was made in Viña del Mar, Santiago, Chile on February 5, 1949.
Fact 55: There are many crazy horse laws still on the books.
- For instance, in the United States, newly married men are not allowed to ride alone, unless they have been married for longer than 12 months.
Fact 56: The horse is one of the 12 zodiac signs in Chinese astrology.
- Those who are born in the year of the horse are thought to be intelligent, free-spirited, and independent.
Fact 57: It can take between 9-12 months for a horse to grow a completely new hoof.
- In some cases, horses are seen wearing horse-shoes. The idea is generally to protect the hoof even more, but it’s still debated today whether or not they aid the horse or not.
Fact 58: Horses have 10 muscles in their ear.
- Humans on the other hand only have 3. This means that horses can move their ears 180°, and can single out a special area to listen to something specific.
Fact 59: Any horse that is shorter than 58 inches is considered a pony.
- Adult horses on average have a height of 1.4-1.8 meters.
Fact 60: The Akhal-Teke horse is considered a “supermodel” horse because of its beautiful, shimmering metallic coat.
- Sadly, the breed was almost wiped out when the Soviet Union began slaughtering them for meat.
Fact 61: Horses do get lonely.
- This occurs when they are kept away from other horses, so in theory, it’s better to keep horses socialising, even if they’re just out in the school with another horse!
Fact 62: Horses do get cold.
- You can tell if a horse is cold by feeling behind their ears. If that area is cold, so is the horse.
Fact 63: Horsepower is a measurement of power, generally associated with cars.
- The term was adopted in the late 18th century by Scottish engineer James Watt, who compared the output of steam engines with the power of draft horses.
Fact 64: More than 6 million horses were used by the Nazis and the Soviet Union during WWII for various reasons.
- Over the course of the war, millions of pigeons also died as they were used to carry messages back and forth.
Fact 65: Thumbelina, is a dwarf miniature horse, and is the world’s smallest horse.
- She stands only 17 inches tall and weighs 26 kilograms.
Fact 66: 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.
Fact 67: In a group of horses, one gender is not always dominant over another.
- A mare can rank higher than a stallion in some cases.
Fact 68: The word ‘hippopotamus’ means ‘river horse’.
- But hippos are not actually closely related to horses, they’re more like pigs.
Fact 69: According to the Bible, 4 horses will signal the coming of the apocalypse.
- The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible, the Book of Revelation by John of Patmos, at 6:1–8.
Fact 70: Although not exactly a real member of the horse family, the unicorn is the national animal of Scotland.
- According to mythology, unicorns hated lions, which was the symbol of British royals.