Did you know....?
Horses can sleep standing up because they have a system of ligaments and tendons in their kneecaps known as a "stay apparatus" which allows them to relax their muscles while staying in a standing position. You will see horses lie down to sleep occasionally, but will only do so if they feel completely at ease and free from danger. A horse kept on its own will rarely lie down to sleep, because it depends on other horses to notify it in case of danger and will not feel comfortable lying down to sleep.
The horse's foot is called a hoof and requires regular trimming and care from a farrier. The fetlock is the joint on the lowest part of a horse's leg, above the hoof. Strong fetlocks are important. The slightest strain or injury to a horse's hooves or legs will make a horse unrideable and of very little value.
A horse's front legs support two-thirds of its body weight.
A face marking that is a wide white stripe reaching all the way down to the muzzle is known as a blaze. A strip is a narrow white marking down the horse's face. A snip is a small white marking on the horse's nose or muzzle. A star is a small white marking on the horse's forehead. Some horses have a star, strip, and snip.
General horse colors include:
White- All white body, with blue, amber, or brown eyes. Albino horses are white with pink skin around their eyes and noses. Some grays appear white, but have dark skin and are actually gray.
Gray- colors range from a solid dark gray called steeldust, to dapple gray which has faint white spots called dapples, to flea-bitten gray which is mostly white with small colored flecks in the coat.
Black- there are true black horses, then there are black horses with tan highlights on their muzzles, and some black horses fade to brown when exposed to the sun for long periods of time.
Brown- brown colored horses are very dark, almost black. Their mane and tail are the same even dark brown color as their coat.
Bay- bay horses have a bright reddish colored coat, black mane and tail, and black on their legs.
Chestnut- chestnut horses can range from a dark liver chestnut, to a deep mahogany color. Their mane, tail, and legs are usually the same color as their coat, but chestnut horses can have flaxen (blonde) mane and tail. A lighter chestnut could also be called a sorrel.
Sorrel- a light reddish colored horse. Their main, tail, and legs are the same color as their coat, except for the occasional flaxen mane and tail.
Palomino- palomino colors range from deep gold, to blonde, to pale cream color. Their mane and tail is usually the same color as the coat, or a lighter color, ranging from blonde to white.
Dun- the body color is tan, yellow, gold, mouse-colored, or reddish, with each hair the same color. The mane and tail may be black, brown, red, yellow, white, or mixed. Duns exhibit a dorsal stripe, and possibly a transverse stripe over the withers, and zebra stripes on the legs (American Quarter Horse Association notes that all duns have dorsal stripes, while buckskins usually do not). A dorsal stripe is a primitive marking often found on dun colored horses. It is a dark brown, black, or gray stripe that runs all the way from the horse's mane down its back to the horse's tail.
Buckskin- the coat is tan, yellow, gold, or cream colored. The mane and tail are usually black or brown, some buckskins have white "frosting" over the black in their manes or tails. The legs are usually black or dark brown. Some buckskins are referred to as "chocolate" or "smutty" buckskins, which mean they have grayish or brownish coloring in places over their buckskin color.
Cremello- the coat is white or cream colored, with some shading on the knees and fetlocks possible (more common on perlino) with blue eyes. This is the result of a cross between a homozygous cream and a chestnut.
Grulla- the body hair is smokey gray or mouse colored (not a mixture of black and white hairs, but each hair is mouse-colored). The mane, tail, and legs are usually black or a combination of black/brown/reddish color.
Roan- a mixture of white and any other color hairs. A bay roan is a bay with white hairs througout. A blue roan has a uniform mixture of white and black hairs. A red roan, also called strawberry roan, is a mixture of reddish hairs and white hairs, and the mane and tail could be red, black, or flaxen.
Paint or Pinto- this coloring is typically a horse with white and any of the other horse colors in splashes, spots, or waves, over the body. A tobiano paint is most easily identified as a horse with a base color of white, with colored spots over it. An overo horse is most easily identified as a horse with a colored base coat with white spots over it.
Appaloosa- this coloring is usually a solid base color with a small speckling of white spots over it, either over the whole body or in certain areas such as the hindquarters. Leopard appaloosas are white or gray with sprinkled black or colored spots over the entire body. Recognized Appaloosa coat patterns include blanket, frost, leopard, marble, and snowflake.
Other- There are a few other colors in the horse world, such as perlino, sabino, brindle, etc.
The barrel of the horse is the part of the body between the shoulders and the loins.
A baby horse is called a foal. Foals between the ages of six and twelve months are referred to as weanlings. A horse between the age of one and two is called a yearling. A colt is a young male horse, a filly is a young female horse, usually less than three years of age. A stallion is a mature male horse, a mare is a mature female horse, and gelding is a neutered male horse. A brood mare is a mare that is kept for breeding purposes.
A foal's very long legs are nearly the length they will be when the foal reaches adulthood.
There are approximately 75 million horses living today. China is the nation with the highest horse population.
Conformation is basically the shape and structure of a horse. When judged, the horse's individual components are compared as well as its symmetrical proportions to others.
Horse owners who don't have their own property to keep a horse will board their horse at a boarding stable. They pay the stable for feed and water and care, but are still responsible to visit, excercise it, and check it's condition every day.
Grooming is the care of a horse's coat. Brushes, combs, shampoos, conditioners, and oils can be used to keep the horse clean, shiny, and healthy. Proper grooming helps to make the horse more comfortable.
A herd of horses is like a family. Adults of either sex care for and teach the younger horses.
Action is the movement of the skeletal frame of a horse as it moves.
Two islands off the U.S. coast are home to the breed of horses that bear their names--Chincoteague and Assateague. Found nowhere else in the world, these horses are believed to have survived a shipwreck and multiplied on the islands. They have inhabited the islands for over a hundred years.
The Delta Society, an organization that promotes healing through service and therapy animals, sponsors the Beyond Limits Awards for therapy animals, including horses.
A horse's muscles are similar to that of humans in that they are made up of fast-twitch and slow-twitch fibers. The ratios of these fibers vary in horses, allowing some to run much faster than others.
In addition to hay, pasture grasses, and grain, horses enjoy treats such as carrots, apples, or peppermints.
As with face markings, distinctive leg markings can help identify a particular horse. A few examples of these markings are: coronets (white strips above the hooves), pasterns or half-pasterns (white a few inches up), socks (six to eight inches of white), stockings (white almost up to the knees or hocks), and distal spots (dark spots within a white leg marking). Breed registries such as the American Quarter Horse Association keep record of each registered horse's markings or spots to help identify each horse.
Horses were an integral part of many tribal cultures. They were prized by Native Americans and were used for hunting, moving camps, trade and commerce, and waging war.
Horses are, by nature, habit-loving animals. Routine procedures offer a sense of comfort and security to which they will respond in a good-natured manner.
The horse's walk, the slowest of the four paces, is a four-beat gait that averages about four miles per hour.
High-spirited horses may shy or recoil in fear from sudden sounds and unexpected or quick movements.
When a horse is listening attentively, its ears will point directly towards the sound or object of its attention. If a horse is angry, its ears will be flattened backwards. If a horse is frightened, its ears will point out to both sides and flick back and forth nervously.
Horses were respected and prized above all other animals in ancient civilizations. Tales of mythical, winged horses, centaurs, and magical unicorns became part of the legend and folklore of the time. Many ancient cave drawings include horses.
Eight thousand horses appeared in King Vidor's 1956 epic War and Peace--the largest number of horses ever assembled for a film.
Shackleford Horses, descendants of animals shipwrecked three hundred years ago, still live on the Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina.
The International Museum of the Horse, at Kentucky Horse Park, is the largest equestrian museum in the world.
One of the most important nutrients for a horse is quality drinking water. A good supply of it should always be available to a horse.
A transition is a change (either faster or slower) in a horse's pace.
Brown is the usual eye color for horses, although occasionally a horse will have one or two blue eyes.