The ancestor of modern horses was hyracotherium. But gradually, it evolved. In North America, where the ancestors of horses lived, the climate changed, the number of forests decreased, and savannas appeared. The animals had to adapt to the new conditions. To move faster, they became more extensive and switched to herbal food, which was easier to find.
In total, there are 9-12 types of horses. Once upon a time, they did all the heavy mechanical work; they were used as pack animals, for riding, and as traction for horse-drawn transport. Before the invention of the engine, they were constantly near people.
Nevertheless, 10 interesting facts about horses you will learn from our article may surprise you because we do not know much about animals, even if we often encounter them. We present you only the most unusual stories.
Here are the top 10 interesting facts about horses
1. The ancestor of horses is the prehistoric horse Eohippus
The ancestors of modern horses were called “hyracoteria.” This is an extinct genus, the earliest of the representatives of the Equidae. A small animal, the height in the shoulders did not exceed 20 cm. They lived on leaves and fruit.
In appearance, it was completely different from its descendants: with an arched back, short muzzle and paws, and an elongated tail. He had no hooves, but only four-toed limbs, more precisely, 4 fingers on the front legs and 3 fingers on the hind legs. It was more like a fox in size. They lived in swampy forests, in groups, in North America and Europe.
2. Prometheus is the first cloned horse
Creating the first horse clone wasn’t easy. Three hundred twenty-seven failed attempts were made before scientists led by the Italian Cesare Galli managed to create Prometheus. This is a Haflinger mare. She was born in 2003, on May 28, from her genetic mother. Later, other horses, including well-known champions, were cloned, but putting all this on stream was impossible because the procedure was complex and expensive.
3. Przewalski’s horse is the only wild horse species available today
It was discovered by N. M. Przhevalsky in 1878 when he returned from his expedition to Asia. He received an exciting gift from the merchant A. K. Tikhonov a skull and horse skin, which Kazakh hunters brought him. The scientist sent all this to the St. Petersburg Zoological Museum, where they discovered it was an unknown animal.
This is the only representative of wild horses. The ancestors of domestic animals were tarpans, but they have long been extinct. However, they are not found in the wild but are bred in zoos and nature reserves to preserve this rare species.
4. Sampson is the tallest horse in the world
In the U.K., a breed of heavy-duty horses was bred – Shires, distinguished by their high growth. Record holders are most often born among them: the tallest and the biggest. Sampson is a representative of this breed, his height was 2 m 20 cm at the withers, and he weighed 1.52 t. And although he was born in 1846, this record has not yet been surpassed.
The stallion was born in Bedfordshire (England) and reached an incredible size in 4 years. It belonged to Thomas Cleavers.
He was almost overtaken but could not be surpassed by Big Jake from Wisconsin, whose height at the withers is 2.17 m. Everyone who sees a giant horse is amazed at its height. He is very friendly, likes to play and loaf, and often participates in charity events.
5. Old Billy is a long-lived record holder
The life span of a horse is from 25 to 35 years. But there were also some record holders among them. Among them was a horse named Old Bill, who lived 62 years.
That horse was born in Great Britain, in 1760, in the village of Woolston. The horse had a difficult life. In 1762, it was purchased by a trucking company. Until 1819, Old Bill did the most challenging work: towing barges. Then he was moved to a farm in Latchford. Old Bill died in November 1822.
6. Horses like sweets
Like humans, horses are not indifferent to sweets, such as sugar. Give it a few sugar lumps to calm the animal down. But sugar contains no valuable substances, so it is given to horses in small quantities for encouragement during training.
If you want to treat a horse, it is better to give it sweet carrots, apples, or crackers prepared at home (store-bought ones are unsuitable).
7. Horse harness was invented by the Chinese
Until the eighth century A.D., a horse was fitted with a neck brace, a unique strap placed around the horse’s neck. It was uncomfortable because it suffocated the animal at the slightest strain. Such a harness could not be harnessed to a cart; people could not transport goods on the roads.
In IV B.C.E., the Chinese came up with a convenient harness, it was worn not on the neck but across the horse’s chest, and with the help of belts, it was connected to the shafts. The load then fell on the collarbone and chest, and the neck of the animal was no longer tightened by suffocating belts. A soft yoke wrapped around the horse’s chest could carry up to 1.5 tons of cargo.
Why did it occur to the Chinese? They had to move their loads over the sticky sand, and sleds with undershirts were inefficient. They used such a harness for 1 thousand years before it appeared in Europe.
8. Horse can look in two different directions at the same time
Horses have enormous eyes if we talk about land mammals. They are located on the sides of the head, so their visual field is 350°. The animal must detect the predator as quickly as possible and escape from it.
Horses have well-developed monocular vision (see with one eye); the binocular (two eyes) vision field is only 65°. To see the nearest objects on the ground, they need to lower their nose and, look down, bend their neck. Horses can distinguish between blue and green colors and their shades but cannot see red.
9. A horse’s brain is half the size of a human’s
The brain of an adult horse weighs 270-579 g, which is almost 2 times less than a human’s. It is worth it because this animal is much larger and heavier and weighs about 500-700 kg, i.e., the size of the brain relative to body weight is negligible.
Nevertheless, the horse is considered an intelligent animal; it lends itself perfectly to training. You can see this if you go to the circus. Scientists say that her mind can be compared with the intelligence of a 3-year-old child. They remember people who treated them well and understood many words.
Scientists from Norway established that they have the beginnings of abstract thinking. They can communicate their wishes to people using different symbols. This was demonstrated by observing the behavior of 24 horses kept as pets.
10. Males have 40 teeth, while females have only 36
The number of teeth a horse has is constantly changing throughout its life. At first, they have incisors, but only the central ones; they are called hooks. When the foal is a month old, the average ones erupt, and the colt-in is 6-7 months. At the age of 9 months, he grows all his baby teeth.
Permanent teeth appear gradually, erupting over several years. An adult horse has only 40 teeth. But mares don’t have fangs. These teeth are practically not involved in digestion; they are considered a rudimentary sign. Most mares (95-98%) do not have them, but they are present in rare cases (2-5%). Approximately the same number of males do not have canines, i.e., there are 36 teeth, as mares.