10 facts about HORSES
Interesting and surprising facts about horses — do you know how tall horses can get?
- There are an estimated 60 million horses in the world, combining wild and domesticated horses.
- Size – with more than 400 breeds worldwide, the size of a horse can be as small as 76 cm in height and as tall as 175 cm+ at shoulder height! Their weight can range from 50 kg to almost a ton!
- Horses have exceptional vision! They have near 360-degree vision but do however have blind spots directly in front and behind them. It is extremely dangerous to approach a horse silently from behind, without making yourself noticed as they are liable to kick out if they get scared by anything as kicking out is their way of defending themselves.
- Social animals – horses are social animals and usually live in herds which can range from 3 to 20 animals. Therefore, it is very important that when stabling (also, see fact below) that they can interact with their conspecifics at all times.
- Stabling and other forms of isolation – Putting horses in stables might seem benign, and many horses will also voluntarily enter stables due to the association with it being where they are fed. But stabling prevents horses from engaging in most of their grazing and social behaviours. Horses rarely voluntarily isolate themselves from other horses, and prolonged social isolation can lead to behavioural problems such as separation distress, rug-chewing and stereotyped behaviours such as weaving and stall-walking.
- Horses can suffer from depression. Some of the known reasons for horses to suffer from depression is isolation from conspecifics, lack of movement, boredom and excessive and violent training.
- Patting them – Many horse people routinely pat their horses as a reward for a job well done. But horses have not evolved to find this rewarding. They don’t pat each other – instead, they scratch or gently nibble each other as a form of bonding. A recent study showed patting increased horses’ heart rates, whereas scratching lowered them and was associated with behavioural signs of relaxation and enjoyment.
- Horses graze up to 17 hours a day! – horses are grazing animals and spend most of their time searching for food – due to their physiology they have to take in food constantly in small amounts, thus it is vital that horses are given ad libitum roughage (such as hay) or possibility to graze so that they do not develop any painful gastrointestinal dysfunction like gastritis or colics!
- Horses can consume approx. 5 l / 100 kg of body weight of water a day – not only feed is important but also sufficient water intake. A 500 kg horse for example would drink around 25 l a day. This of course also depends on various factors like outside temperature, humidity, age and how the horse is worked.
- There are fewer bones in a horse than in humans. It’s only one bone less, but in total, there are 205 bones in the skeleton of a horse.