horse (Equus Caballus) They have been around for 50 million years, and throughout that time they have evolved. Horses had many toes on their legs, even today’s beautiful horses, which only have one toe. The modern horse has been domesticated by the human being throughout centuries for transport or for battle.

Wild Horse
Wild Horse

Today there are more than 300 different horse breeds that have been bred for a purpose. Huge horses to pull heavy carts, others lighter to ride, the famous pony breed for children and small adults and small horses under 30 ″ used as pets or to guide blind people.

Features

The horses are mammals they usually live for about 30 years. The world's oldest registered horse lived 56 years by dying in 2007.

Horses are called differently according to their age and sex. An adult female is called a mare and a young female is called a filly. The male of the adult horse is called a stallion, and the young is called a colt. However, when the calf has not yet been weaned it is called a foal, regardless of its sex. Neutered male and spayed female horses are called capons.

Be part of vertebrate animals and the height is measured in hands (1 hand being the equivalent of 10 cm). It is determined by its cross, that is, the point where the neck meets the loin. Light horses usually measure between 142 - 163 cm and their weight ranges between 380 - 550 kg. The largest saddle horses can measure 157-173 cm and weigh 500-500 kg. The heaviest breeds measure 163 - 183 cm and weigh between 700 - 1000 kg.

They have teeth very prepared to feed on grass, so they have a minimum of 36 teeth. At four to five years of age, adult males develop four additional teeth known as tusks. Occasionally, one or four very small vestigial teeth grow in front of the molars that are removed to avoid biting problems in the future. How the horse's teeth are growing steadily, its age can be determined by looking only at the growth and wear pattern of its teeth.

They have remarkable hearing and some are very capable of 360 ° hearing. Their sense of smell is also very good (much more than that of humans) but they tend to rely more on their vision as it is very powerful. Their monocular field of view is almost 360º with a narrower binocular field in front and slightly to the sides but they have a blind spot on their nose and behind them, so it is much better to approach them laterally. They are also capable of seeing much better in the dark than humans.

Colors and markings

Horses can be found in a wide variety of colors and spots with different patterns. Horses are often classified by the color of their coat, rather than by their race or sex. Horses with the same coat (single color) are identified by different spot patterns of colors other than the base coat.

Colors

The most common coats are chestnut, chestnut and black. These colors are mixed by the genes to obtain the other colors. We can find the following layers:

  • Chestnut: Light brown or reddish colored body.
  • Albino: These horses lack melanin, and their hair is white, with red eyes, and they are hypersensitive to light. Therefore, it is not really a color. They are not used for reproduction as it is considered defective.
  • Bayo: It has a yellowish white color.
  • White: It is a very rare color to find since the body must be completely white, without any other tone.
  • Chestnut, mulatto o backpack: It is dark brown and sometimes almost black; brown or black mane and tail.
  • Assignment: Its body is cream-colored and the mane and tail are darker in color but different from a horse with a berry coat.
  • Black: His cape is completely black, although some white areas are allowed on the feet and head.
  • Palomino: Very light brown with white or pale tail and mane. This coat is not very common, but quite appreciated in some breeds.
  • Cheep: It is a layer of two colors, sometimes with three, in the forms of spots. Usually black and white called black piebald, white and red called chestnut pie, etc. There are numerous variants depending on the size and shape of the spots (overo, tobiano, apalusa, etc.)
  • Ruano: He has hair of different colors, which are intermingled and with different shades. You can go from sorrel to white or black.
  • Tordo: It is not completely white, but mixes white, gray and black hairs. There are different types according to their dark tones and their distribution. This type is born black until it turns white as it becomes an adult. If you look under the white hair you will see the black skin.

Stains

Horse spots come in all types, shapes and sizes. They are white in color in more or less dark layers. The layers located on the head and extremities tend to stand out. The most characteristic spot is the "mule stripe" which is a dark line that runs along the entire spine of the horse from withers to tail.

Head spots
  • Bar o cord: This horse has a white line, which goes from the muzzle to the eyes, varying in width.
  • Moor's head: Characterized by having the head of a slightly different tone than the body layer.
  • White face: The front of his face is completely white.
  • Careto: Similar to the bar, but it widens from the forehead to the muzzle.
  • Cutting: The stain is located only on the muzzle.
  • Bright star: The white spot on the forehead of various shapes such as diamonds, crescents, crosses, etc.
Spots on the extremities
  • When some limbs are white, the horse is called or and they differ in:
    • High footwear: The spots go from the hoof to the middle of the leg (corresponding to the elbow or knee).
    • Medium footwear: It goes from the helmet to the middle of the shaft.
    • Low footwear: Found from the hoof to the fetlock.
    • Sock: A fine line next to the helmet.
  • When a horse has black spots around its crown, it is said to be ermine.
  • When the horse has several spots on more than one limb, it will be said to be:
    • Unialbo: When only one limb is stained.
    • Bialbo: When you have multiple stained limbs, no matter what they are.
    • Tresalbo: When three limbs are spotted.
    • Cuatrialbo: When all four limbs are stained.

Swirls

It is a variation in the direction of hair growth in very specific areas of the body, such as the cross.

Behavior

The horse has been a wild animal and still maintains its instinct, therefore, when threatened they will tend to flee and but when they have no other option or must defend their young, they will not hesitate to defend themselves using their legs. Although they do not always flee when there is danger because they are able to identify the cause of their fear and their dangerousness. Some breeds used as the saddle horse are fast, agile, and resilient because their wild ancestors needed those qualities to survive their predators. Other breeds such as the draft horse are more docile due to the selection of offspring that humans have made throughout history.

The horses are diurnal animals They go in a herd and have a strong hierarchy, quite defined, where they will be led by the dominant horse (assiduously it will be a female) but they are very social animals both with their peers and with animals or humans. They communicate through vocalizations and neighs of various tones, although they can also communicate through body language and mutual grooming. Some horses are difficult to handle if they are separated from the group, although with time and good training they can come to accept human company and feel comfortable alone without being surrounded by other horses. If it is not performed well, they do not receive stimulation, they do not exercise and they are kept in stables without other horses, they can have psychological problems called "stable vices".

Temperament

Horses can also be divided by their temperament and are divided into:

  • Cold-blooded horses: They are the horses that have the calmest temperament and are generally the heaviest breed horses such as the percheron, clydesdale, etc.
  • Warm-blooded horses: They are breeds obtained by crossing cold-blooded horses with warm-blooded horses that are called warmbloods. This crossing causes him to receive the tranquility and docility of the cold-blooded and the agility and lightness of the seconds. The best known breeds are the German breeds such as (Hanoverian, Westphalian, Trakener, etc.), although there are crosses in other countries.
  • Warm-blooded horses: They have an alert temperament and are the most nervous breeds. The best known breeds of this type of horse are the Arabian, the English thoroughbred and the Spanish thoroughbred.

Horse sequences

The horse, being a land animal it is fully adapted to ground movement. It does so in various ways called gaits, which are classified into three natural gaits: walk, trot, and gallop. The support of both legs is called bipedal and strides, the cycle of strides from the moment a foot is placed, lifts it and rests it again on the ground. Each cycle marks us a stride of the horse in each air.

  • He passed: The step is the slowest air, since it has four times. With this air the horse advances in a lateral bipedal, that is, it first advances with the right foot, and then it will use the right hand, followed by the left foot and finally the left hand. At some point in the cycle, the horse will be supported with its three feet. With this air a horse of average height can reach an average speed of 6 to 7 km / h
  • Prank call: This air is faster than the previous (step) marked by two times, symmetrical and jumped because the horse at some point will remain in suspension without placing any foot on the ground. The trot can be of three types: work (good rhythm), gathered (cadenced, high and slow air) and long (where the greatest amplitude of the stride is reached, which is not the fastest). The average speed of the trot can reach 15 km / h. There are two ways of trotting:
    • Seated trot: It consists of the horse rider keeping his buttocks on the seat and must coordinate the horse's movement with his hips.
    • Raised trot: At the same time that the horse trots, the rider is lifted at the same time as it, when the animal pushes him up. To do this well, the rider must get up just when the animal lifts its front leg.
  • Gallop: It is the fastest air of the horse but also the one that consumes the most energy and tires the animal first. Its maximum speed is 65 km / h and the average speed is about 20 km / h although it can reach more in racehorses. To do this, he rests his hands on the ground, forcing him to expel the air, and therefore, he cannot voluntarily accelerate his respiratory rate. It is the only asymmetric air, three times, during the four the leg is in the air, therefore, you can gallop with the right hand or the left hand.
Herd of trotting horses
Herd of trotting horses

Sleep patterns

the horse is able to sleep standing and sitting. They can sleep standing up because they can lock the stifle joint without having to support their weight with the muscles, but to achieve deep sleep (REM state) they must lie down. Due to their temperament, horses sleep better if they sleep in a group and they take turns watching for a potential predator. If you are alone, the horse will not rest well.

Horses sleep per block rather than continuously and rest on their feet for four to fifteen hours a day, although they will only go to sleep for a few minutes several times during that same period. Total sleep time for a 24-hour period varies from several minutes to a couple of hours, most often in short intervals of about 15 minutes each, and they only need to lie down several times a day to reach their minimum REM requirement. . If the horse does not rest, after several days it will show symptoms of sleepiness.

Habitat

The horse can live both wild way as well as in domestic, and therefore, they are found throughout the globe with the exception of areas of extreme cold such as Antarctica.

Domestic horses

Domesticated horses born in captivity live inside stables, also known as boxes. They are closed enclosures located on farms or estates where they are cared for, and they coexist with other specimens and have everything they need for their day to day. In large spaces they are kept in the open air so that they can camp freely.

Horse inside a stable
Horse inside a stable

Caballos salvajes

The natural habitat of the horse can be found in deserts, savannas and grasslands of Asia and Africa populated with evergreen vegetation and quite humid. Nowadays it is very difficult to see in these regions since it is in danger of extinction, and in fact, they have not been a very common animal either. The areas where they live are very wide and open plains in order to be able to locate possible predators in advance.

However, their habitat can vary depending on the season of the year, since they are nomadic and will move based on weather conditions. During the winter, they will opt for mountain areas to find shelter and endure the cold. During the summer and spring they will opt for the aforementioned areas.

Food

The horse is a herbivorous animalTherefore, it feeds on plants and vegetation, although its favorite is the tender green grass. He has an advancing sense of taste that allows him to find the food they like best, and he tends to avoid toxic plants unless he has no choice but to eat them.

If allowed, the horses will graze most of the day as their bodies are prepared to receive food constantly. A horse weighing 450 kg can eat between 7 and 11 kg daily and drink between 38 - 45 liters of water.

They are not ruminants, unlike cows or sheep that are and have four cavities. Despite having a strong stomach, they are unable to vomit so if they have a digestive problem it can cause death.

Horse feeding on grass
Horse feeding on grass

Predators

As most of the current horses are in stables protected by man, it is very rare that they have predators, although there can be cases of attacks by other animals such as Wolves.

In areas where there are still wild horses if they have a larger number of predators to be in total freedom. The most common predators are Wolves, lynx o coyotes and other felines, because to hunt other horses their predator must be fast, strong and agile. In some areas of the United States, some horses can be hunted by bears, but it is a rare attack.

Reproduction

Like all mammals, the horse is a viviparous animal. Sexual maturity is reached at four years and the mares carry their young for about 11 months and will give birth to a single young. Rarely does a young mare give rise to twins or deliveries of more than two or three protillo, except in advanced ages where the probability increases. When the foal is born, it is assiduously able to stand up and run shortly after birth. Unlike donkeys, the mare can be fertilized the following month, so she can give birth to two foals per year.

In domestic horses the so-called «Mamporrero», which helps the horse to direct its grief to impregnate the female since some may have difficulties in sexual coupling.

Relationship with humans

Horses since their domestication have coexisted with humans for millennia, being used for all kinds of jobs due to their muscular strength, endurance, speed and intelligence, getting breeds used exclusively for a certain task.

  • Agriculture: The horse was used in agriculture to help humans to farm, along with donkeys, specifically to work or move heavy machinery.
  • Proceedings: When the great road networks did not exist, horses helped us to move throughout Europe on the roads that the Romans had built. When the carriages arrived the horses kept pulling until the automobile industry arrived.
  • Trams: In 1899 Paris, the trams were pulled by 17.323 horses over a network of 244 km.
  • Merchandise transports: At the same time as the stagecoaches, the horses also transported merchandise by means of carriages.
  • Sports: The horse is currently used in various equestrian sports such as jumping, horse riding, polo, dressage, charrería, rodeo, duck, cowgirl dressage, horseball, hooking, raid, full competition, cross , coleus, etc. They also participate in the Olympic Games with various sports such as dressage, jumping and full competition.
  • Therapies: Various scientific studies have shown that the horse helps humans to improve their interpersonal relationships. The human being is capable of establishing a very close and authentic bond with them by communicating with gestures and sounds. These types of therapies are used to help people who are in times of crisis.
  • Wars: In the past, the horse has always been present in all wars mounted by warrior riders. They were practically used by all cultures.
  • Pets: It is the most common use in our times. The wealthiest families have horses to walk through the countryside, attend competitions or for personal pleasure.
  • Contests: The horses participate in numerous beauty, show jumping or dance contests.
Horses competing alongside humans
Horses competing alongside humans

State of conservation

In 2007 it was estimated that the world had a population of a total of 58 million horses. Distributed among the following countries:

  • United States: 9,5 million
  • China: 7,4 million
  • Mexico: 6,6 million
  • Brazil: 5,7 million
  • Argentina: 3,5 million
  • Colombia: 2,5 million
  • Mongolia: 2 million
  • Ethiopia: 1,65 million
  • Russia: 1,3 million
  • Kazakhstan: 1,1 million
  • Romania: 850 thousand
  • Ukraine: 600 thousand
  • Germany: 500 thousand
  • France: 400 thousand

The countries with the least population of horses are Guam with 20.000 and Grenada with 30.000. Other sources estimate that the population is about 75 million horses, with China having the most horses with 10 million. But most studies do agree that its population has been reduced since 1961 when it peaked at about 61 million.

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