Our collection of interesting informative and fun horse facts
Basic horse facts can elude horse owners who are busy caring for a large living breathing creature.
And who’s equestrian sport or hobby often takes up significant personal time.
Horse riding can take up to several hours of every day.
Simple daily grooming, taking care of horse tack and the actual horse riding all take time.
Learning basic horse facts and figures as well as the more fun and interesting ones is often placed on the back burner or never considered important.
The following bulleted lists are for those too busy to stick their nose in a four hundred page book …. enjoy.
Basic Horse Facts
The things every horse owner should know
- A horse isn’t considered an adult until it reaches age four.
- A female horse over 4 years old is called a mare.
- A male horse over 4 years old is called a Stallion or a Gelding, if castrated.
- Horses are measured in hands high (hh).
- A hand is equivalent to four inches or 10.2cm.
- Horses are normally over 14.2hh except for miniature horses.
- Anything under 14.2hh is classed as a pony.
- There are over 200 breeds of horses in the world.
- A horse’s gestation period (time from breeding to birth) is about 11 mths
- Horses usualy live to be 20-25 years old. The oldest horse lived to be 62.
- A father horse is called a sire.
- A mother horse is called a dam.
- A young female is called a filly.
- A young male is called a colt.
- The scientific name for the horse is equus caballus.
- A mule is a cross between a male donkey (a jack) and a female horse (a mare).
- Mules are usually sterile.
- A hinny is a cross between a male horse (a stallion) and a female donkey (a jenny).
- Hinnies are usually sterile.
- Mules are known for having very long ears.
Foals and Foaling
Interesting facts about baby horses
- A newborn foals legs are already 80 to 90% of the length they will be when full grown.
- A foal is able to stand just one hour after birth.
- A foal can walk, trot, and run just two hours after birth.
- The first milk the mare makes is called colostrum. This rich milk builds the foals immune system.
- Most foals will start to nurse less than two hours after birth.
- A female foal is called a filly.
- A male foal is called a colt.
- More foals are born between April 15 and May 15 than at any other time.
- Mares usually foal at night.
- Foaling mares don’t like being watched. They will stop foaling and wait till a person leaves.
- A mare may give birth in as little as 15 minutes, but usually no longer than an hour.
- If a mare is still straining after an hour has passed, something is seriously wrong.
- If you have to help pull a foal out, NEVER pull up! Always pull down, toward the mares feet.
Strange or Unusual Horse Facts
- Horses like classical music.
- The oldest horse was named Old Billy. He was a cross breed, he was born in 1760 and lived to 62.
- The oldest pony ever recorded was named Teddy E. Bear. He lived to be 55 and was owned by Kathy Pennington of Virginia Beach, VA. He was still alive in 1998.
- The World’s Largest Horse was a purebred Belgian stallion named Brooklyn Supreme. He stood 19.2hh (6’6") at his withers. He weighed over 3,200 pounds and is entered in the Guiness Book of World Records. He was foaled in 1928 and died in 1948. He lived in Iowa, USA.
Truth or Fiction – Who Knows?
- Horseshoes are supposed to be lucky.
- The luckiest horse shoe of all, is one from the hind leg of a grey mare.
- If you hang a horseshoe upside down, the luck runs out.
- Grey horses are supposed to be lucky and piebalds unlucky.
- A local superstition in Lincolnshire, UK says;( If you see a white dog, stay silent until you see a white horse. )
The oldest winning thoroughbred racehorses are ;
- The 18-year-olds – Revenge, at Shrewsbury, England 1790; Marksman, at Ashford, Kent, England, 1826; and Jorrocks, at Bathurst, Australia, 1851.
- Also at 18yrs old; Wild Aster won three hurdle races in 1919, and Sonny Somers won two steeplechases in February 1980.
The smallest horse breed is the Falebella miniature horse of Argentina.
- The tallest recorded member of the breed stands just 74cm (30 inches) at the shoulder.
- The smallest pony in history was a stallion named "Little Pumpkin". He stood just 14 inches tall and weighed only 20lbs.
- The tallest horse recorded was a Shire horse called Samson. He stood 21.2hh (7ft 2in). Samson is also recorded as the heaviest horse weighing in at 1524kg (3360lbs)
- The World Record log pull was set in 1893. 2 Clydesdale Stallions hauled a sledge stacked with timber weighing 128 tonnes. The equivalent of pulling 22 African Elephants.
- The record for the highest jump is 8ft. 1.25in (247cm). By Huaso – ridden by Capt. Alberto Larraguibel Morales (Chile) at Vina del Mar, Santiago, Chile on Feb. 5, 1949.
- The record for the longest jump over water is 27ft 6.75in (8.4m). By Something – ridden by Andre Ferreira (South Africa) in Johannesburg, South Africa on April 25, 1975.
Technical horse terms
Latin Terms and Meanings
Here are some words that are derived from the latin word for horse, equus, and the Greek word for horse, hippos. From the American Heritage Dictionary
- equine adj. – 1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of a horse. 2. Of or belonging to the family Equidae, which includes horses, asses, and zebras.
- equestrian adj. – 1. Of or relating to horseback riding or horseback riders. 2. Depicted or represented on horseback: an equestrian statue of a famous monarch.
- equestrian n. – One who rides a horse or performs on horseback. [From Latin equester, equestr-, from eques, horseman, from equus, horse.
- equitation n. - The art and practice of riding a horse. [Latin equitatio, equitation-, from equitare, to ride horseback.
- equitant adj. - Overlapping at the base to form a flat, fanlike arrangement in two ranks, as the leaves of some irises. [Latin equitans, equitant-, present participle of equitare, to ride horseback, from eques, equit-, horseman, from equus, horse.
- equisetum n., pl. equisetums or equiseta. (horsetail). - Any of various nonflowering plants of the genus Equisetum, having a jointed, hollow stem and narrow, sometimes much reduced leaves. Also called equisetum.
- eohippus n. - A small, herbivorous, extinct mammal of the genus Hyracotherium (or Eohippus) from the Eocene Epoch of the western United States, having four-toed front feet and three-toed hind feet and related ancestrally to the horse. [New Latin : eo- + Greek hippos, horse]
Classification of the Horse
How Science Classifies The Equine
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Subphylum: Vertebrata
- Class: Mammalia
- Subclass: Theria
- Infraclass: Eutheria
- Order: Perissodactyla
- Family: Equidae
Horse Anatomy Facts
About your horses’ body
- A full grown horse weighing 1000 pounds (455kg) contains approximately 13.2 gallons of blood.
- Horses have about 175 bones in their body.
- A horses hoof grows at about 1cm per month.
- Horses leg joints are not fully fused (grown) until the age of 3.5yrs.
- Most horse breeds have 18 ribs.
- The Arabian horse has 17 ribs.
- Most horses have 6 lumbar bones.
- The Arabian horse has 5 lumbar bones.
- Most horses have 18 tail vertabrea.
- The Arabian horse has 16 tail vertabrea.
- Arabian horse are very strong for their size.
- Horses can see in two directions at once.
- Horses can see everywhere, except directly in front or behind them.
- Horses can’t vomit and it is very dangerous if a horse chokes
- Horses make 8 basic sounds; Snort, Squeal, Greeting nicker, Courtship nicker, Maternal nicker, Neigh, Roar, Blow.
- Horses cannot breathe through their mouths.
- Horses have a prehensile upper lip. Prehensile means "adapted for seizing, grasping, or taking hold of something." Their upper lips are very sensitive and capable of feeling the smallest of differences in objects.
- Scientists believe that the first known ancestor of the horse lived about 50 million years ago. This prehistoric horse is called Eohippus and had four padded toes on the front legs and three padded toes on the back legs. Eo means "dawn" and hippus means "horse," so Eohippus is "dawn horse."
- A horses splint bones are thought to be remnants of toes from prehistoric horses. The splint bones are small bones (about the size of a pencil at the top and tapering down to be much smaller) found on each side of the cannon bone.
- Sometimes a small bulge will appear on the horses lower leg, this is usually a splint bone that has popped. This happens when the splint bone becomes detached from the cannon bone. A splint might become detached due to a nutritional imbalance or trauma. It is usually not a cause for concern. In most cases a popped splint will cause mild pain to the horse but when the splint has "set" or healed it is completely pain free and is not a health or soundness concern
Your horses vision
- Most of the time, a horse has monocular vision. This means a different image is seen by each eye so that a horse is seeing two different pictures at the same time.
- Your horse can also have binocular vision. Binocular vision is when both eyes work together to see one picture (humans have binocular vision). A horse only has binocular vision when it is looking down its nose.
- Your horse has a wide visual range. Your horse can see completely around its entire body except for two small blind spots. One directly in front of its face, underneath its head, and the other directly behind itself. This is why it’s very important not to walk up, directly behind a horse – you are in its blind spot and if you startle it you can get kicked.
Inside your horse
- The horse has one stomach. In contrast, cattle, sheep, goats, bison, deer, elk, caribou, moose, and camels are "ruminants" which means (among other things) they have four digestive chambers instead of just one stomach.
- The horse is a herbivore, which means it feeds mostly on plants.
- The normal horse small intestine is about 70 feet long.
- The normal horse large intestine is about 12 feet long.
- The average horse heart weighs approximately 9 or 10 pounds. The great New Zealand / Australian racehorse, Phar Lap, had a heart that weighed 14 pounds.
- The great American racehorse Secretariat had a heart estimated during his autopsy to weigh 21 pounds, though the heart was not weighed.
- Horses produce approximately 10 gallons of saliva a day.
All horses, regardless of when they were actually born, are considered to have a common birthday of January 1.
This is one of the reasons most horsemen don’t like their foals to be born late in the year: Even if a foal is born on December 31st he or she will have their first birthday the very next day.