Horses are hooved mammals that are part of the Equidae family. Evolving over a period of 45 to 55 million years, it was a small multi-toed creature that involved into the large, single-toed creature that tis found today. Humans started to domesticate the horse around 4000 BC, and domesticating horses was widespread 1000 years later.
Although many horses are domesticated, there are wild but endangered horse species called Przewalski’s Horse. This is actually the only remaining true wild horse, while others are just feral horses which live in the wild and are descended from domesticated horses.
There is extensive and specialized jargon that are used to describe horses. This ranges from anatomy to size, life stage, behaviour, breeds, markings, colours, and locomotion. The anatomy of a horse enables them to be speedy, so they can escape predators. It also allows them to have a good sense of balance as well as a strong instinct of fight or flight. The need to flee from predators in the wild is actually unusual. Horses can sleep standing up as well as lying down.
Female horses are called mares, and care for their young until they are 11 months. A young horse is called a foal, and can run and stand soon after it has been born. Domesticated horses usually begin training in a harness or under saddle between 2 – 4 years of age. When they are 5 years old, they reach full adult development and have a lifespan of between 25 to 30 years.
However, the lifespan of horses depends on its breed, environment, and management. It is uncommon for animals to live beyond 40 years old. The oldest living horse that had a verifiable record was “Old Billy”, who lived until he was 62. However, this was in the 19th century. The world’s oldest living pony in more modern times was Sugar Puff, who died in 2007 at 56 years of age.
Regardless of the horse’s actual date of birth, for competition purposes, an horse is considered a year older on January 1 every year in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, a horse turns 1 year older on August 1. The only exception to this is endurance riding, which is based on the animal’s calendar age. However, many horse lovers and those in the trade can roughly estimate how old a horse is just by looking at its teeth.
Horse breeds are divided up into 3 categories, based on their temperament. These 3 categories are:
- Hot Bloods – they are spirited, fast, and have good endurance
- Cold Bloods – ponies and draft horse as they are good for slow and heavy work
- Warm Bloods – a hybrid between the hot and cold bloods, which were created for riding purposes
Humans and horses have interacted for thousands of years for working, sporting, and recreational pursuits. This includes agriculture, police work, and general entertainment. They were also used during wars, where many driving and riding techniques were developed to suit battle styles.