Dogs may be man’s best friend, but horses have been companion and assistance animals for millenia. In fact, archaeological evidence indicates that humans formed intermingled relationships with horses nearly 5,500 years ago.
They are also an integral part of the everyday life of a working cowboy.
Horses provided people with much of the essentials they required for group survival. Khan Academy indicates that the domestication of the horse ushered in an era of innovation in transport and communication. Horses also were invaluable animals on the farm or in early villages.
Horses still serve many practical functions, but they’re more often than not companion animals or relied on for riding hobbies and sport. Horses are majestic and fascinating animals, and these 15 interesting facts show just how incredible these beautiful animals are.
1. Horses can sleep both lying down and standing up.
2. Horses have the largest eyes of any mammal that lives on land.
3. People once believed horses were colorblind. In fact, horses can see colors, but are better at detecting yellows and greens than purples and violets.
4. A horse’s body contains 205 bones.
5. Because a horse’s eyes are on the side of its head, it is capable of seeing nearly 360 degrees at one time.
6. The fastest sprinting speed ever recorded for a horse is 55 miles per hour, though they generally trot at around four miles per hour.
7. Horses evolved from a very small animal about the size of a dog or baby lamb that was called a hyracotherium. This ancestor lived in tropical rain forests in North America and ate leaves.
8. Hooves are made from the same protein that comprises human fingernails and hair.
9. The Przewalski’s horse is the only truly wild horse species still in existence. The last remaining wild population is in Mongolia.
10. A male horse is called a stallion, while a young male horse is a colt. A female horse is a mare, while a young female is a filly.
11. Ponies are not immature horses. They are a small variety of horse.
12. Estimates suggest there are around 60 million horses in the world.
13. Early civilizations used horses as a form of food. But in 732 A.D., Pope Gregory III said the ritual consumption of horse meat was a pagan practice and had to be abolished. Islamic and Jewish communities also advocated toward avoiding horse meat. Today there is no specific law in the U.S. banning horse meat, but most people still steer clear of it.
14. An adult horse’s brain weighs 22 ounces, or about half the weight of a human brain.
15. Horses like sweet flavors, which is why you can tempt them with sweet treats like apples and sugar cubes.