Guest post by Katy from The Phoenix Filly.
Horses have long been an influential creature to humans. Wild horses were once tamed to help in hunting and travel. Nowadays many are trained for sport, while some simply keep their equine friends for companionship.
Equines are fascinating animals that have weird and miraculous features and capabilities. Did you know any of these bizarre horse facts?
Horses Can Sleep Standing Up or Lying Down
Horses like to run when they sense danger, and due to their size and long and straight backs, they have a hard time getting up quickly.
Many horses can and do sleep standing up, as they feel safer and can run if danger suddenly presents itself.
Horses do need REM sleep, and they lie down to achieve that deeper state. If there is more than one horse together, not all will lie down at once. One horse will remain standing as the “lookout” for the rest of the group.
They Have the Largest Eyes of Any Mammal
Many people are surprised to discover that horses have the largest eyeballs of any mammal. Elephants, giraffes, and other huge mammal’ s eyes can’t compare to the equine eyeball. This helps the horse as it is considered a “flight” animal when it gets scared.
With such large eyes, they can easily see danger approaching and flee to safety. The eyes are also located on the sides of the horse’s head.
If you watch their ears and see that they are pointed in different directions, they are actually looking at two different things, one with one eye, and the other possibly dangerous thing with the other ear and eye. Amazing, isn’t it?
Horses Cannot Vomit
Dogs, cats, and many other animals have the capabilities to vomit (gross), but horses cannot.
Horses have a valve that operates when the food travels down the esophagus to the stomach. After reaching the stomach, the valve cuts off the muscles that would allow food back up, creating a one-way street for food.
Horses can have Different Colored Skin
Did you know that horses can have different colored skin? We’re not talking about their coat colors, we’re talking about under their coats.
Grey and white horses tend to have pink skin, which can get sunburned just like human’s skin can. Horses with dark colored coats have black skin. Fascinating!
Horses Can Only Breathe Through Their Noses
When humans are short of breath, we can open our mouths to increase our air intake, but the fast running equine cannot. Horses can only breathe through their nose/nostrils.
This is because there is a flap of tissue that blocks off the pharynx from the mouth. The tissue flap only opens up when horses swallow their food but otherwise prevents horses from breathing through their mouths.
There is Only One True Wild Horse Species
There is a difference between “wild” and “feral” horses. The mustang herds that can be found in many countries are actually considered feral.
The only true wild horse species is the Przewalski’s horse, and the only wild herd can be found in Mongolia. Neat huh?
A Missing Pair
Arabian horses were originally bred to traverse the desert terrain. They are known to have one less rib than other breeds. Some but not all Arabians will have the missing pair or ribs.
This was thought to be a trait of the breed and its desert habitat where greater heart and lung capacity were needed to travel the desert distances.
Babies Can Learn to Run….and Quickly
Since horses are such a flight type of animal, it’s no surprise to many that only hours after a baby horse (known as a foal) is born, it can be seen scampering across the meadow with its mother.
Foals can learn to run a mere hour or two after they are born, giving them a better chance of survival should a predator appear.
Beware the Red Ribbon
Have you ever been to a horse show? Occasionally, a horse may float by with a red ribbon tied neatly in its tail. Did you know this is actually a warning?
A red ribbon tied onto a horse tail is a warning to other riders and competitors that the horse kicks. It is a simple yet commonly known method used to keep everyone safe while in close proximity to each other at horse shows.
That’s a Lot of Water
Horses are large creatures and need lots to drink. Not only do they need lots to drink, but they also produce on average, 10 gallons of saliva a day (gross!), and water helps keep everything moist.
After all, hay isn’t the juiciest thing to eat! Horses need and drink about 25 gallons of water a day, and even more in warm climates.
A Tiny Brain?
An average horse’s brain weighs about 22 oz., about half that of a human’s brain!
Horses also have lots of teeth, so many in fact, that they take up more space in the large head than their brain does.
Do you know any more interesting facts about our equine friends?
Katy has been riding and competing for over 20 years. She has a BS degree in equine science and has two nosy horses she loves dearly. Katy is the creator of the equestrian blog The Phoenix Filly. When not riding horses, she can be found writing about horses and hopes to promote interest in horses, riding, and care of equines.