Horse

Horse

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Horse'
Start a new discussion about 'Horse'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The horse is one of two extant subspecies
Subspecies
Subspecies in biological classification, is either a taxonomic rank subordinate to species, ora taxonomic unit in that rank . A subspecies cannot be recognized in isolation: a species will either be recognized as having no subspecies at all or two or more, never just one...

 of Equus ferus, or the wild horse
Wild Horse
The wild horse is a species of the genus Equus, which includes as subspecies the domesticated horse as well as the undomesticated Tarpan and Przewalski's Horse. The Tarpan became extinct in the 19th century, and Przewalski's Horse was saved from the brink of extinction and reintroduced...

. It is a single-hooved (ungulate
Ungulate
Ungulates are several groups of mammals, most of which use the tips of their toes, usually hoofed, to sustain their whole body weight while moving. They make up several orders of mammals, of which six to eight survive...

) mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

 belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae
Equidae
Equidae is the taxonomic family of horses and related animals, including the extant horses, donkeys, and zebras, and many other species known only from fossils. All extant species are in the genus Equus...

. The horse has evolved
Evolution of the horse
The evolution of the horse pertains to the phylogenetic ancestry of the modern horse from the small dog-sized, forest-dwelling Hyracotherium over geologic time scales...

 over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature
Hyracotherium
Hyracotherium , also known as Eohippus or the dawn horse, is an extinct genus of very small perissodactyl ungulates that lived in the woodlands of the northern hemisphere, with species ranging throughout Asia, Europe, and North America during the early Tertiary Period and the early to mid Eocene...

 into the large, single-toed
Odd-toed ungulate
An odd-toed ungulate is a mammal with hooves that feature an odd number of toes. Odd-toed ungulates comprise the order Perissodactyla . The middle toe on each hoof is usually larger than its neighbours...

 animal of today. Humans began to domesticate
Domestication
Domestication or taming is the process whereby a population of animals or plants, through a process of selection, becomes accustomed to human provision and control. In the Convention on Biological Diversity a domesticated species is defined as a 'species in which the evolutionary process has been...

 horses around 4000 BC, and their domestication
Domestication of the horse
There are a number of hypotheses on many of the key issues regarding the domestication of the horse. Although horses appeared in Paleolithic cave art as early as 30,000 BCE, these were truly wild horses and were probably hunted for meat. How and when horses became domesticated is disputed...

 is believed to have been widespread by 3000 BC. Horses in the subspecies caballus are domesticated, although some domesticated populations live in the wild as feral horses. These feral populations are not true wild horse
Wild Horse
The wild horse is a species of the genus Equus, which includes as subspecies the domesticated horse as well as the undomesticated Tarpan and Przewalski's Horse. The Tarpan became extinct in the 19th century, and Przewalski's Horse was saved from the brink of extinction and reintroduced...

s, as this term is used to describe horses that have never been domesticated, such as the endangered Przewalski's Horse
Przewalski's Horse
Przewalski's Horse or Dzungarian Horse, is a rare and endangered subspecies of wild horse native to the steppes of central Asia, specifically China and Mongolia.At one time extinct in the wild, it has been reintroduced to its native habitat in Mongolia at the Khustain Nuruu...

, a separate subspecies, and the only remaining true wild horse
Wild Horse
The wild horse is a species of the genus Equus, which includes as subspecies the domesticated horse as well as the undomesticated Tarpan and Przewalski's Horse. The Tarpan became extinct in the 19th century, and Przewalski's Horse was saved from the brink of extinction and reintroduced...

. There is an extensive, specialized vocabulary used to describe equine-related concepts, covering everything from anatomy
Anatomy
Anatomy is a branch of biology and medicine that is the consideration of the structure of living things. It is a general term that includes human anatomy, animal anatomy , and plant anatomy...

 to life stages, size, colors
Equine coat color
Horses exhibit a diverse array of coat colors and distinctive markings. A specialized vocabulary has evolved to describe them.While most horses remain the same color throughout life, a few, over the course of several years, will develop a different coat color from that with which they were born...

, markings
Horse markings
Markings on horses usually are distinctive white areas on an otherwise dark base coat color. Most horses have some markings, and they help to identify the horse as a unique individual. Markings are present at birth and do not change over the course of the horse's life...

, breeds, locomotion
Animal locomotion
Animal locomotion, which is the act of self-propulsion by an animal, has many manifestations, including running, swimming, jumping and flying. Animals move for a variety of reasons, such as to find food, a mate, or a suitable microhabitat, and to escape predators...

, and behavior.

Horses' anatomy enables them to make use of speed to escape predators and they have a well-developed sense of balance
Equilibrioception
Equilibrioception or sense of balance is one of the physiological senses. It helps prevent humans and animals from falling over when walking or standing still. Balance is the result of a number of body systems working together: the eyes , ears and the body's sense of where it is in space ideally...

 and a strong fight-or-flight
Fight-or-flight response
The fight-or-flight response was first described by Walter Bradford Cannon....

 instinct. Related to this need to flee from predators in the wild is an unusual trait: horses are able to sleep both standing up and lying down. Female horses, called mare
Mare
Female horses are called mares.Mare is the Latin word for "sea".The word may also refer to:-People:* Ahmed Marzooq, also known as Mare, a footballer and Secretary General of Maldives Olympic Committee* Mare Winningham, American actress and singer...

s, carry their young for approximately 11 months, and a young horse, called a foal
Foal
A foal is an equine, particularly a horse, that is one year old or younger. More specific terms are colt for a male foal and filly for a female foal, but these terms are used until the horse is age three or four. When the foal is nursing from its dam , it may also be called a suckling...

, can stand and run shortly following birth. Most domesticated horses begin training under saddle
Saddle
A saddle is a supportive structure for a rider or other load, fastened to an animal's back by a girth. The most common type is the equestrian saddle designed for a horse, but specialized saddles have been created for camels and other creatures...

 or in harness
Horse harness
A horse harness is a type of horse tack that allows a horse or other equine to pull various horse-drawn vehicles such as a carriage, wagon or sleigh. Harnesses may also be used to hitch animals to other loads such as a plow or canal boat....

 between the ages of two and four. They reach full adult development by age five, and have an average lifespan of between 25 and 30 years.

Horse breeds are loosely divided into three categories based on general temperament: spirited "hot bloods" with speed and endurance; "cold bloods", such as draft horse
Draft horse
A draft horse , draught horse or dray horse , less often called a work horse or heavy horse, is a large horse bred for hard, heavy tasks such as ploughing and farm labour...

s and some ponies
Pony
A pony is a small horse . Depending on context, a pony may be a horse that is under an approximate or exact height at the withers, or a small horse with a specific conformation and temperament. There are many different breeds...

, suitable for slow, heavy work; and "warmblood
Warmblood
Warmbloods are a group of middle-weight horse types and breeds, primarily originating in Europe, registered with organizations that are characterized by open studbook policy, studbook selection, and the aim of breeding for equestrian sport...

s", developed from crosses between hot bloods and cold bloods, often focusing on creating breeds for specific riding purposes, particularly in Europe. There are over 300 breeds of horses in the world today, developed for many different uses.

Horses and humans interact in a wide variety of sport competitions and non-competitive recreational pursuits, as well as in working activities such as police work
Mounted police
Mounted police are police who patrol on horseback or camelback. They continue to serve in remote areas and in metropolitan areas where their day-to-day function may be picturesque or ceremonial, but they are also employed in crowd control because of their mobile mass and height advantage and...

, agriculture
Working animal
A working animal is an animal, usually domesticated, that is kept by humans and trained to perform tasks. They may be close members of the family, such as guide or service dogs, or they may be animals trained strictly to perform a job, such as logging elephants. They may also be used for milk, a...

, entertainment, and therapy
Hippotherapy
Hippotherapy is a form of physical, occupational and speech therapy in which a therapist uses the characteristic movements of a horse to provide carefully graded motor and sensory input. A foundation is established to improve neurological function and sensory processing, which can be generalized to...

. Horses were historically used in warfare, from which a wide variety of riding
Equestrianism
Equestrianism more often known as riding, horseback riding or horse riding refers to the skill of riding, driving, or vaulting with horses...

 and driving
Driving (horse)
Driving, when applied to horses, ponies, mules, or donkeys, is a broad term for hitching equines to a wagon, carriage, cart, sleigh, or other horse-drawn vehicle by means of a harness and working them in this way...

 techniques developed, using many different styles of equipment
Horse tack
Tack is a term used to describe any of the various equipment and accessories worn by horses in the course of their use as domesticated animals. Saddles, stirrups, bridles, halters, reins, bits, harnesses, martingales, and breastplates are all forms of horse tack...

 and methods of control. Many products are derived from horses, including meat, milk, hide, hair, bone, and pharmaceuticals extracted from the urine of pregnant mares. Humans provide domesticated horses with food, water and shelter, as well as attention from specialists such as veterinarian
Veterinarian
A veterinary physician, colloquially called a vet, shortened from veterinarian or veterinary surgeon , is a professional who treats disease, disorder and injury in animals....

s and farrier
Farrier
A farrier is a specialist in equine hoof care, including the trimming and balancing of horses' hooves and the placing of shoes on their hooves...

s.

Biology


Specific terms and specialized language is used to describe equine anatomy, different life stages, colors and breeds.

Lifespan and life stages


Depending on breed, management and environment, the modern domestic horse has a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years. Uncommonly, a few animals live into their 40s and, occasionally, beyond. The oldest verifiable record was "Old Billy
Old Billy
Old Billy , not to be confused with the Quarter horse of the same name, was the longest-lived horse on record. Old Billy was verified to be 62 at his death. Born in England in 1760, he lived as a barge horse that pulled barges up and down canals. Old Billy was said to look like a big cob/shire...

", a 19th-century horse that lived to the age of 62. In modern times, Sugar Puff, who had been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records
Guinness World Records
Guinness World Records, known until 2000 as The Guinness Book of Records , is a reference book published annually, containing a collection of world records, both human achievements and the extremes of the natural world...

 as the world's oldest living pony, died in 2007 at age 56.

Regardless of a horse's actual birth date, for most competition purposes, an animal is considered a year older on January 1 of each year in the Northern Hemisphere and August 1 in the Southern Hemisphere. The exception is in endurance riding
Endurance riding
Endurance riding is an equestrian sport based on controlled long-distance races. It is one of the international competitions recognized by the FEI. There are endurance rides worldwide....

, where the minimum age to compete is based on the animal's actual calendar age.

The following terminology is used to describe horses of various ages:
  • Foal
    Foal
    A foal is an equine, particularly a horse, that is one year old or younger. More specific terms are colt for a male foal and filly for a female foal, but these terms are used until the horse is age three or four. When the foal is nursing from its dam , it may also be called a suckling...

    : a horse of either sex less than one year old. A nursing foal is sometimes called a suckling and a foal that has been weaned is called a weanling. Most domesticated foals are weaned at five to seven months of age, although foals can be weaned at four months with no adverse physical effects.
  • Yearling
    Yearling (horse)
    A yearling is a young horse of either sex that is between one and two years old. Yearlings are comparable in development to a very early adolescent, they are not fully mature physically, and while they may be in the earliest stages of sexual maturity, they are considered too young to be breeding...

    : a horse of either sex that is between one and two years old.
  • Colt
    Colt (horse)
    A colt is a young male horse, under the age of four. The term "colt" is often confused with foal, which refers to a horse of either sex under one year of age....

    : a male horse under the age of four. A common terminology error is to call any young horse a "colt", when the term actually only refers to young male horses.
  • Filly
    Filly
    A filly is a young female horse too young to be called a mare. There are several specific definitions in use.*In most cases filly is a female horse under the age of four years old....

    : a female horse under the age of four.
  • Mare
    Mare
    Female horses are called mares.Mare is the Latin word for "sea".The word may also refer to:-People:* Ahmed Marzooq, also known as Mare, a footballer and Secretary General of Maldives Olympic Committee* Mare Winningham, American actress and singer...

    : a female horse four years old and older.
  • Stallion
    Stallion
    A Stallion is a male horse.Stallion may also refer to:* Stallion , an American pop rock group* Stallion , a figure in the Gobot toyline* Stallion , a character in the console role-playing game series...

    : a non-castrated male horse four years old and older. Some people, particularly in the UK, refer to a stallion as a "horse".
  • Gelding
    Gelding
    A gelding is a castrated horse or other equine such as a donkey or a mule. Castration, and the elimination of hormonally driven behavior associated with a stallion, allows a male horse to be calmer and better-behaved, making the animal quieter, gentler and potentially more suitable as an everyday...

    : a castrated
    Castration
    Castration is any action, surgical, chemical, or otherwise, by which a male loses the functions of the testicles or a female loses the functions of the ovaries.-Humans:...

     male horse of any age.


In horse racing
Horse racing
Horse racing is an equestrian sport that has a long history. Archaeological records indicate that horse racing occurred in ancient Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. Both chariot and mounted horse racing were events in the ancient Greek Olympics by 648 BC...

, these definitions may differ: For example, in the British Isles, Thoroughbred
Thoroughbred
The Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing. Although the word thoroughbred is sometimes used to refer to any breed of purebred horse, it technically refers only to the Thoroughbred breed...

 horse racing defines colts and fillies as less than five years old. However, Australian Thoroughbred racing defines colts and fillies as less than four years old.

Size and measurement



The height of horses is measured at the highest point of the withers
Withers
The withers is the ridge between the shoulder blades of a four-legged animal. In many species it is the tallest point of the body, and in horses and dogs it is the standard place to measure the animal's height .-Horses:The withers in horses are formed by the dorsal spinal processes of roughly the...

, where the neck meets the back
Back (horse)
The back describes the area of horse anatomy where the saddle goes, and in popular usage extends to include the loin or lumbar region behind the thoracic vertebrae that also is crucial to a horse's weight-carrying ability. These two sections of the vertebral column beginning at the withers, the...

. This point was chosen because it is a stable point of the anatomy, unlike the head or neck, which move up and down.

The English-speaking world measures the height of horses in hands and inches. One hand is equal to 101.6 millimetres (4 in). The height is expressed as the number of full hands, followed by a point
Radix point
In mathematics and computing, a radix point is the symbol used in numerical representations to separate the integer part of a number from its fractional part . "Radix point" is a general term that applies to all number bases...

, then the number of additional inches, then the abbreviation "h" or "hh" (for "hands high"). Thus, a horse described as "15.2 h" is plus 2 inches (5.1 cm), for a total of 62 inches (157.5 cm) in height.


The size of horses varies by breed, but also is influenced by nutrition
Equine nutrition
Equine nutrition is the feeding of horses, ponies, mules, donkeys, and other equines. Correct and balanced nutrition is a critical component of proper horse care....

. Light riding horses usually range in height from and can weigh from 380 to 550 kg (837.8 to 1,212.5 ). Larger riding horses usually start at about and often are as tall as , weighing from 500 to 600 kg (1,102.3 to 1,322.8 ). Heavy or draft horse
Draft horse
A draft horse , draught horse or dray horse , less often called a work horse or heavy horse, is a large horse bred for hard, heavy tasks such as ploughing and farm labour...

s are usually at least high and can weigh from about 700 to 1000 kg (1,543.2 to 2,204.6 ).

The largest horse in recorded history was probably a Shire horse
Shire horse
The Shire horse is a breed of draught horse or draft horse . The breed comes in many colours, including black, bay and grey. They are a tall breed, with mares standing and over and stallions standing and over. The breed has an enormous capacity for weight pulling, and Shires have held the world...

 named Mammoth, who was born in 1848. He stood 21.2½ hands high (86.5 in (219.7 cm)), and his peak weight was estimated at 1500 kilograms (3,306.9 lb). The current record holder for the world's smallest horse is Thumbelina
Thumbelina (horse)
Thumbelina is a dwarf miniature horse and the world's smallest horse. She stands tall and weighs , and officially received the title of world's smallest from the Guinness Book of World Records. Thumbelina was born in St. Louis, Missouri...

, a fully mature miniature horse
Miniature horse
Miniature horses are found in many nations, particularly in Europe and the Americas. The designation of miniature horse is determined by the height of the animal, which, depending on the particular breed registry involved, is usually less than as measured at the last hairs of the mane, which are...

 affected by dwarfism
Dwarfism
Dwarfism is short stature resulting from a medical condition. It is sometimes defined as an adult height of less than 4 feet 10 inches  , although this definition is problematic because short stature in itself is not a disorder....

. She is 17 inches (43.2 cm) tall and weighs 57 pounds (25.9 kg).

Ponies



The general rule for height distinguishing between a horse and a pony
Pony
A pony is a small horse . Depending on context, a pony may be a horse that is under an approximate or exact height at the withers, or a small horse with a specific conformation and temperament. There are many different breeds...

 at maturity is . An animal 14.2 h or over is usually considered to be a horse and one less than 14.2 h a pony. However, there are many exceptions to the general rule. In Australia, ponies measure under . The International Federation for Equestrian Sports
International Federation for Equestrian Sports
The Fédération Équestre Internationale or in English, the International Federation for Equestrian Sports, is the international governing body of equestrian sports. It recognizes ten international disciplines...

, which uses metric
Metric system
The metric system is an international decimalised system of measurement. France was first to adopt a metric system, in 1799, and a metric system is now the official system of measurement, used in almost every country in the world...

 measurements, defines the cutoff between horses and ponies at 148 centimetres (58.27 in) (just over 14.2 h) without shoes and 149 centimetres (58.66 in) (just over 14.2½ h) with shoes. Some breeds which typically produce individuals both under and over 14.2 h consider all animals of that breed to be horses regardless of their height. Conversely, some pony breeds may have features in common with horses, and individual animals may occasionally mature at over 14.2 h, but are still considered to be ponies.

The distinction between a horse and pony is not simply a difference in height, but other aspects of phenotype
Phenotype
A phenotype is an organism's observable characteristics or traits: such as its morphology, development, biochemical or physiological properties, behavior, and products of behavior...

or appearance, such as conformation
Equine conformation
Equine conformation evaluates the degree of correctness of a horse's bone structure, musculature, and its body proportions in relation to each other. Undesirable conformation can limit the ability to perform a specific task. Although there are several universal "faults," a horse's conformation is...

 and temperament. Ponies often exhibit thicker manes, tails, and overall coat. They also have proportionally shorter legs, wider barrels, heavier bone, shorter and thicker necks, and short heads with broad foreheads. They may have calmer temperaments than horses and also a high level of equine intelligence that may or may not be used to cooperate with human handlers. In fact, small size, by itself, is sometimes not a factor at all. While the Shetland pony
Shetland pony
The Shetland pony is a breed of pony originating in the Shetland Isles. Shetlands range in size from a minimum height of approximately 28 inches to an official maximum height of 42 inches at the withers. Shetland ponies have heavy coats, short legs and are considered quite intelligent...

 stands on average , the Falabella
Falabella
Falabella is a Chilean department store retailer owned by the Falabella company-Locations and products:Falabella department stores can be found in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru. Falabella Department stores sell a wide variety of merchandise including apparel, home furnishings, electronics and...

 and other miniature horse
Miniature horse
Miniature horses are found in many nations, particularly in Europe and the Americas. The designation of miniature horse is determined by the height of the animal, which, depending on the particular breed registry involved, is usually less than as measured at the last hairs of the mane, which are...

s, which can be no taller than 30 inches (76.2 cm), the size of a medium-sized dog, are classified by their respective registries
Breed registry
A breed registry, also known as a stud book or register, in animal husbandry and the hobby of animal fancy, is an official list of animals within a specific breed whose parents are known. Animals are usually registered by their breeders when they are still young...

 as very small horses rather than as ponies.

Colors and markings




Horses exhibit a diverse array of coat colors
Equine coat color
Horses exhibit a diverse array of coat colors and distinctive markings. A specialized vocabulary has evolved to describe them.While most horses remain the same color throughout life, a few, over the course of several years, will develop a different coat color from that with which they were born...

 and distinctive markings
Horse markings
Markings on horses usually are distinctive white areas on an otherwise dark base coat color. Most horses have some markings, and they help to identify the horse as a unique individual. Markings are present at birth and do not change over the course of the horse's life...

, described with a specialized vocabulary. Often, a horse is classified first by its coat color, before breed or sex. Horses of the same color may be distinguished from one another by white markings
Horse markings
Markings on horses usually are distinctive white areas on an otherwise dark base coat color. Most horses have some markings, and they help to identify the horse as a unique individual. Markings are present at birth and do not change over the course of the horse's life...

, which, along with various spotting patterns, are inherited separately from coat color.

Many genes
Equine coat color genetics
Equine coat color genetics determine a horse's coat color. There are many different coat colors possible, but all colors are produced by the action of only a few different genes. The simplest genetic default color of all domesticated horses can be described as either "red" or "non-red", depending...

 that create horse coat colors have been identified, although research continues to further identify factors that result in specific traits. One of the first genetic relationships to be understood was that between recessive "red" (chestnut
Chestnut (coat)
Chestnut is a hair coat color of horses consisting of a reddish-to-brown coat with a mane and tail the same or lighter in color than the coat. Genetically and visually, chestnut is characterized by the absolute absence of true black hairs...

) and dominant "black" allele
Allele
An allele is one of two or more forms of a gene or a genetic locus . "Allel" is an abbreviation of allelomorph. Sometimes, different alleles can result in different observable phenotypic traits, such as different pigmentation...

 that is controlled by the Melanocortin 1 receptor
Melanocortin 1 receptor
The melanocortin 1 receptor , also known as melanocyte-stimulating hormone receptor , melanin-activating peptide receptor, or melanotropin receptor, is a G protein-coupled receptor which binds to a class of pituitary peptide hormones known as the melanocortins, of which include adrenocorticotropic...

, also known as the "extension gene" or "red factor." Additional gene
Gene
A gene is a molecular unit of heredity of a living organism. It is a name given to some stretches of DNA and RNA that code for a type of protein or for an RNA chain that has a function in the organism. Living beings depend on genes, as they specify all proteins and functional RNA chains...

s control suppression of base red and black color to point coloration as seen in bay, spotting patterns such as pinto
Pinto horse
A pinto horse has a coat color that consists of large patches of white and any other color. The distinction between "pinto" and "solid" can be tenuous, as so-called "solid" horses frequently have areas of white hair. Various cultures throughout history appear to have selectively bred for pinto...

 or leopard
Leopard complex
The leopard complex is a group of genetically-related coat patterns in horses. These patterns range from progressive increases in interspersed white hair similar to graying or roan to distinctive, Dalmatian-like leopard spots on a white coat. Secondary characteristics associated with the leopard...

, dilutions such as palomino
Palomino
Palomino is a coat color in horses, consisting of a gold coat and white mane and tail. Genetically, the palomino color is created by a single allele of a dilution gene called the cream gene working on a "red" base coat...

 or dun
Dun gene
The dun gene is a dilution gene that affects both red and black pigments in the coat color of a horse. The dun gene has the ability to affect the appearance of all black, bay, or chestnut -based horses to some degree by lightening the base body coat and suppressing the underlying base color to the...

, as well as graying
Gray (horse)
Gray or grey is a coat color of horses characterized by progressive silvering of the colored hairs of the coat. Most gray horses have black skin and dark eyes; unlike many depigmentation genes, gray does not affect skin or eye color Their adult hair coat is white, dappled, or white intermingled...

, and all the other factors that create the dozens of possible coat colors found in horses. These colors can be modified by at least ten other genes to create all other colors.

Horses which have a white coat color are often mislabeled; a horse that looks "white" is usually a middle-aged or older gray
Gray (horse)
Gray or grey is a coat color of horses characterized by progressive silvering of the colored hairs of the coat. Most gray horses have black skin and dark eyes; unlike many depigmentation genes, gray does not affect skin or eye color Their adult hair coat is white, dappled, or white intermingled...

. Grays are born a darker shade, get lighter as they age, and usually have black skin underneath their white hair coat (with the exception of pink skin under white markings
Horse markings
Markings on horses usually are distinctive white areas on an otherwise dark base coat color. Most horses have some markings, and they help to identify the horse as a unique individual. Markings are present at birth and do not change over the course of the horse's life...

). The only horses properly called white
White (horse)
White horses are born white and stay white throughout their life. White horses may have brown, blue, or hazel eyes. "True white" horses, especially those that carry one of the dominant white genes, are rare...

 are born with a white hair coat and have predominantly pink skin, a fairly rare occurrence. Different and unrelated genetic
Genetics
Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

 factors can produce white coat colors in horses, including several different alleles of dominant white
Dominant white
Dominant white is a group of genetically related coat color conditions in the horse, best known for producing an all-white coat, but also for producing some forms of white spotting and white markings. Dominant white horses are born with unpigmented pink skin and white hair with dark eyes, although...

 and the sabino-1 gene
Sabino horse
Sabino is a group of white spotting patterns in horses that affect the skin and hair. A wide variety of irregular color patterns are accepted as sabino. In the strictest sense, "sabino" refers to the white patterns produced by the Sabino 1 gene, for which there is a DNA test...

. However, there are no "albino
Albinism
Albinism is a congenital disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes due to absence or defect of an enzyme involved in the production of melanin...

" horses, defined as having both pink skin and red eyes.

Reproduction and development



Gestation
Gestation
Gestation is the carrying of an embryo or fetus inside a female viviparous animal. Mammals during pregnancy can have one or more gestations at the same time ....

 lasts for approximately 335–340 days and usually results in one foal
Foal
A foal is an equine, particularly a horse, that is one year old or younger. More specific terms are colt for a male foal and filly for a female foal, but these terms are used until the horse is age three or four. When the foal is nursing from its dam , it may also be called a suckling...

. Twins are rare. Horses are a precocial
Precocial
In biology, the term precocial refers to species in which the young are relatively mature and mobile from the moment of birth or hatching. The opposite developmental strategy is called "altricial," where the young are born or hatched helpless. Extremely precocial species may be called...

 species, and foals are capable of standing and running within a short time following birth.

Horses, particularly colts, sometimes are physically capable of reproduction at about 18 months, but domesticated horses are rarely allowed to breed before the age of three, especially females. Horses four years old are considered mature, although the skeleton normally continues to develop until the age of six; maturation also depends on the horse's size, breed, sex, and quality of care. Also, if the horse is larger, its bones are larger; therefore, not only do the bones take longer to actually form bone tissue
Osseous tissue
Osseous tissue, or bone tissue, is the major structural and supportive connective tissue of the body. Osseous tissue forms the rigid part of the bone organs that make up the skeletal system.-Formation:Bone tissue is a mineralized connective tissue...

, but also the epiphyseal plate
Epiphyseal plate
The epiphyseal plate is a hyaline cartilage plate in the metaphysis at each end of a long bone...

s are also larger and take longer to convert from cartilage
Cartilage
Cartilage is a flexible connective tissue found in many areas in the bodies of humans and other animals, including the joints between bones, the rib cage, the ear, the nose, the elbow, the knee, the ankle, the bronchial tubes and the intervertebral discs...

 to bone. These plates convert after the other parts of the bones, and are crucial to development.

Depending on maturity, breed, and work expected, horses are usually put under saddle and trained
Horse training
Horse training refers to a variety of practices that teach horses to perform certain behaviors when asked to do so by humans. Horses are trained to be manageable by humans for everyday care as well as for equestrian activities from horse racing to therapeutic horseback riding for people with...

 to be ridden between the ages of two and four. Although Thoroughbred
Thoroughbred
The Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing. Although the word thoroughbred is sometimes used to refer to any breed of purebred horse, it technically refers only to the Thoroughbred breed...

 race horses
Horse racing
Horse racing is an equestrian sport that has a long history. Archaeological records indicate that horse racing occurred in ancient Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. Both chariot and mounted horse racing were events in the ancient Greek Olympics by 648 BC...

 are put on the track as young age two in some countries, horses specifically bred for sports such as dressage
Dressage
Dressage is a competitive equestrian sport, defined by the International Equestrian Federation as "the highest expression of horse training." Competitions are held at all levels from amateur to the World Equestrian Games...

 are generally not put under saddle until they are three or four years old, because their bones and muscles are not solidly developed. For endurance riding
Endurance riding
Endurance riding is an equestrian sport based on controlled long-distance races. It is one of the international competitions recognized by the FEI. There are endurance rides worldwide....

 competition, horses are not deemed mature enough to compete until they are a full 60 calendar months (five years) old.

Anatomy



Skeletal system




Horses have a skeleton that averages 205 bones. A significant difference between the horse skeleton and that of a human, is the lack of a collarbone
Clavicle
In human anatomy, the clavicle or collar bone is a long bone of short length that serves as a strut between the scapula and the sternum. It is the only long bone in body that lies horizontally...

—the horse's forelimbs
Equine forelimb anatomy
The equine forelimb of the horse is attached to the trunk of the animal by purely muscular connections...

 are attached to the spinal column
Vertebral column
In human anatomy, the vertebral column is a column usually consisting of 24 articulating vertebrae, and 9 fused vertebrae in the sacrum and the coccyx. It is situated in the dorsal aspect of the torso, separated by intervertebral discs...

 by a powerful set of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that attach the shoulder blade
Scapula
In anatomy, the scapula , omo, or shoulder blade, is the bone that connects the humerus with the clavicle ....

 to the torso. The horse's legs and hooves are also unique structures. Their leg bones are proportioned differently from those of a human. For example, the body part that is called a horse's "knee" is actually made up of the carpal
Carpus
In tetrapods, the carpus is the sole cluster of bones in the wrist between the radius and ulna and the metacarpus. The bones of the carpus do not belong to individual fingers , whereas those of the metacarpus do. The corresponding part of the foot is the tarsus...

 bones that correspond to the human wrist
Wrist
In human anatomy, the wrist is variously defined as 1) the carpus or carpal bones, the complex of eight bones forming the proximal skeletal segment of the hand;...

. Similarly, the hock
Hock (zoology)
The hock, or gambrel, is the joint between the tarsal bones and tibia of a digitigrade or unguligrade quadrupedal mammal, such as a horse, cat, or dog...

 contains bones equivalent to those in the human ankle
Ankle
The ankle joint is formed where the foot and the leg meet. The ankle, or talocrural joint, is a synovial hinge joint that connects the distal ends of the tibia and fibula in the lower limb with the proximal end of the talus bone in the foot...

 and heel
Heel
In human anatomy, the heel is the prominence at the posterior end of the foot. It is based on the projection of one bone, the calcaneus or heel bone, behind the articulation of the bones of the lower leg.- Human anatomy :...

. The lower leg bones of a horse correspond to the bones of the human hand or foot, and the fetlock (incorrectly called the "ankle") is actually the proximal sesamoid bone
Sesamoid bone
In anatomy, a sesamoid bone is a bone embedded within a tendon.Sesamoids are found in locations where a tendon passes over a joint, such as the hand, knee, and foot. Functionally, they act to protect the tendon and to increase its mechanical effect. The presence of the sesamoid bone holds the...

s between the cannon bones (a single equivalent to the human metacarpal or metatarsal
Metatarsus
The metatarsus or metatarsal bones are a group of five long bones in the foot located between the tarsal bones of the hind- and mid-foot and the phalanges of the toes. Lacking individual names, the metatarsal bones are numbered from the medial side : the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth...

 bones) and the proximal phalanges
Proximal phalanges
Proximal phalanges are bones found in the limbs of most vertebrates. In humans, they are the bones at the base of a toe or finger, the prominent, knobby ends of which are often called the knuckles....

, located where one finds the "knuckles" of a human. A horse also has no muscles in its legs below the knees and hocks, only skin, hair, bone, tendon
Tendon
A tendon is a tough band of fibrous connective tissue that usually connects muscle to bone and is capable of withstanding tension. Tendons are similar to ligaments and fasciae as they are all made of collagen except that ligaments join one bone to another bone, and fasciae connect muscles to other...

s, ligament
Ligament
In anatomy, the term ligament is used to denote any of three types of structures. Most commonly, it refers to fibrous tissue that connects bones to other bones and is also known as articular ligament, articular larua, fibrous ligament, or true ligament.Ligament can also refer to:* Peritoneal...

s, cartilage
Cartilage
Cartilage is a flexible connective tissue found in many areas in the bodies of humans and other animals, including the joints between bones, the rib cage, the ear, the nose, the elbow, the knee, the ankle, the bronchial tubes and the intervertebral discs...

, and the assorted specialized tissues that make up the hoof
Horse hoof
A horse hoof is a structure surrounding the distal phalanx of the 3rd digit of each of the four limbs of Equus species, which is covered by complex soft tissue and keratinised structures...

.

Hooves



The critical importance of the feet and legs is summed up by the traditional adage, "no foot, no horse". The horse hoof
Horse hoof
A horse hoof is a structure surrounding the distal phalanx of the 3rd digit of each of the four limbs of Equus species, which is covered by complex soft tissue and keratinised structures...

 begins with the distal phalanges
Distal phalanges
The distal or terminal phalanges are the terminal limb bones located at the tip of the digits...

, the equivalent of the human fingertip or tip of the toe, surrounded by cartilage
Cartilage
Cartilage is a flexible connective tissue found in many areas in the bodies of humans and other animals, including the joints between bones, the rib cage, the ear, the nose, the elbow, the knee, the ankle, the bronchial tubes and the intervertebral discs...

 and other specialized, blood-rich soft tissues such as the laminae. The exterior hoof wall and horn of the sole is made of essentially the same material as a human fingernail
Nail (anatomy)
A nail is a horn-like envelope covering the dorsal aspect of the terminal phalanges of fingers and toes in humans, most non-human primates, and a few other mammals. Nails are similar to claws, which are found on numerous other animals....

. The end result is that a horse, weighing on average 500 kilograms (1,102.3 lb), travels on the same bones as would a human on tiptoe. For the protection of the hoof under certain conditions, some horses have horseshoe
Horseshoe
A horseshoe, is a fabricated product, normally made of metal, although sometimes made partially or wholly of modern synthetic materials, designed to protect a horse's hoof from wear and tear. Shoes are attached on the palmar surface of the hooves, usually nailed through the insensitive hoof wall...

s placed on their feet by a professional farrier
Farrier
A farrier is a specialist in equine hoof care, including the trimming and balancing of horses' hooves and the placing of shoes on their hooves...

. The hoof continually grows, and in most domesticated horses needs to be trimmed (and horseshoes reset, if used) every five to eight weeks, though the hooves of horses in the wild wear down and regrow at a rate suitable for their terrain.

Teeth



Horses are adapted to grazing. In an adult horse, there are 12 incisor
Incisor
Incisors are the first kind of tooth in heterodont mammals. They are located in the premaxilla above and mandible below.-Function:...

s at the front of the mouth, adapted to biting off the grass or other vegetation. There are 24 teeth adapted for chewing, the premolar
Premolar
The premolar teeth or bicuspids are transitional teeth located between the canine and molar teeth. In humans, there are two premolars per quadrant, making eight premolars total in the mouth. They have at least two cusps. Premolars can be considered as a 'transitional tooth' during chewing, or...

s and molars
Molar (tooth)
Molars are the rearmost and most complicated kind of tooth in most mammals. In many mammals they grind food; hence the Latin name mola, "millstone"....

, at the back of the mouth. Stallions and geldings have four additional teeth just behind the incisors, a type of canine teeth
Canine tooth
In mammalian oral anatomy, the canine teeth, also called cuspids, dogteeth, fangs, or eye teeth, are relatively long, pointed teeth...

 called "tushes". Some horses, both male and female, will also develop one to four very small vestigial teeth in front of the molars, known as "wolf" teeth, which are generally removed because they can interfere with the bit
Bit (horse)
A bit is a type of horse tack used in equestrian activities, usually made of metal or a synthetic material, and is placed in the mouth of a horse or other equid and assists a rider in communicating with the animal. It rests on the bars of the mouth in an interdental region where there are no teeth...

. There is an empty interdental space between the incisors and the molars where the bit rests directly on the gums, or "bars" of the horse's mouth when the horse is bridle
Bridle
A bridle is a piece of equipment used to direct a horse. As defined in the Oxford English Dictionary, the "bridle" includes both the headstall that holds a bit that goes in the mouth of a horse, and the reins that are attached to the bit....

d.

An estimate of a horse's age can be made from looking at its teeth
Horse teeth
Horses' teeth are often used to estimate the animal's age, hence the sayings "long in the tooth", "straight from the horse's mouth" and "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth".- Types of teeth :At five years of age a horse has between 36 and 44 teeth...

. The teeth continue to erupt throughout life and are worn down by grazing. Therefore, the incisors show changes as the horse ages, but a distinct wear and growth pattern, and changes in the angle at which the chewing surfaces meet. This allows a very rough estimate of a horse's age, although diet and veterinary care can also affect the rate of tooth wear.

Digestion



Horses are herbivore
Herbivore
Herbivores are organisms that are anatomically and physiologically adapted to eat plant-based foods. Herbivory is a form of consumption in which an organism principally eats autotrophs such as plants, algae and photosynthesizing bacteria. More generally, organisms that feed on autotrophs in...

s with a digestive system adapted to a forage
Forage
Forage is plant material eaten by grazing livestock.Historically the term forage has meant only plants eaten by the animals directly as pasture, crop residue, or immature cereal crops, but it is also used more loosely to include similar plants cut for fodder and carried to the animals, especially...

 diet of grasses and other plant material, consumed steadily throughout the day. Therefore, compared to humans, they have a relatively small stomach but very long intestines to facilitate a steady flow of nutrients. A 450 kilograms (992.1 lb) horse will eat 7 to 11 kg (15.4 to 24.3 ) of food per day and, under normal use, drink 38 litres (80.3 US pt) to 45 litres (95.1 US pt) of water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

. Horses are not ruminant
Ruminant
A ruminant is a mammal of the order Artiodactyla that digests plant-based food by initially softening it within the animal's first compartment of the stomach, principally through bacterial actions, then regurgitating the semi-digested mass, now known as cud, and chewing it again...

s, so they have only one stomach, like humans, but unlike humans, they can digest cellulose
Cellulose
Cellulose is an organic compound with the formula , a polysaccharide consisting of a linear chain of several hundred to over ten thousand β linked D-glucose units....

, a major component of grass. Cellulose digestion occurs in the cecum
Cecum
The cecum or caecum is a pouch, connecting the ileum with the ascending colon of the large intestine. It is separated from the ileum by the ileocecal valve or Bauhin's valve, and is considered to be the beginning of the large intestine. It is also separated from the colon by the cecocolic...

, or "water gut", which food goes through before reaching the large intestine
Large intestine
The large intestine is the third-to-last part of the digestive system — — in vertebrate animals. Its function is to absorb water from the remaining indigestible food matter, and then to pass useless waste material from the body...

. Unlike humans, horses cannot vomit, so digestion problems can quickly cause colic
Horse colic
Colic in horses is defined as abdominal pain, but it is a clinical sign rather than a diagnosis. The term colic can encompass all forms of gastrointestinal conditions which cause pain as well as other causes of abdominal pain not involving the gastrointestinal tract. The most common forms of colic...

, a leading cause of death.

Senses




The horse's senses are generally superior to those of a human. As prey animals
Predation
In ecology, predation describes a biological interaction where a predator feeds on its prey . Predators may or may not kill their prey prior to feeding on them, but the act of predation always results in the death of its prey and the eventual absorption of the prey's tissue through consumption...

, they must be aware of their surroundings at all times. They have the largest eyes of any land mammal, and are lateral-eyed, meaning that their eyes are positioned on the sides of their heads. This means that horses have a range of vision of more than 350°, with approximately 65° of this being binocular vision
Binocular vision
Binocular vision is vision in which both eyes are used together. The word binocular comes from two Latin roots, bini for double, and oculus for eye. Having two eyes confers at least four advantages over having one. First, it gives a creature a spare eye in case one is damaged. Second, it gives a...

 and the remaining 285° monocular vision
Monocular vision
Monocular vision is vision in which each eye is used separately. By using the eyes in this way, as opposed by binocular vision, the field of view is increased, while depth perception is limited. The eyes are usually positioned on opposite sides of the animal's head giving it the ability to see two...

. Horses have excellent day and night vision
Night vision
Night vision is the ability to see in low light conditions. Whether by biological or technological means, night vision is made possible by a combination of two approaches: sufficient spectral range, and sufficient intensity range...

, but they have two-color, or dichromatic vision; their color vision
Color vision
Color vision is the capacity of an organism or machine to distinguish objects based on the wavelengths of the light they reflect, emit, or transmit...

 is somewhat like red-green color blindness in humans, where certain colors, especially red and related colors, appear as a shade of green.

A horse's hearing is good, and the pinna of each ear can rotate up to 180°, giving the potential for 360° hearing without having to move the head. Their sense of smell
Olfaction
Olfaction is the sense of smell. This sense is mediated by specialized sensory cells of the nasal cavity of vertebrates, and, by analogy, sensory cells of the antennae of invertebrates...

, while much better than that of humans, is not their strongest asset; they rely to a greater extent on vision.

Horses have a great sense of balance, due partly to their ability to feel their footing and partly to highly developed proprioception
Proprioception
Proprioception , from Latin proprius, meaning "one's own" and perception, is the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement...

—the unconscious sense of where the body and limbs are at all times. A horse's sense of touch
Somatosensory system
The somatosensory system is a diverse sensory system composed of the receptors and processing centres to produce the sensory modalities such as touch, temperature, proprioception , and nociception . The sensory receptors cover the skin and epithelia, skeletal muscles, bones and joints, internal...

 is well developed. The most sensitive areas are around the eyes, ears, and nose. Horses sense contact as subtle as an insect landing anywhere on the body.

Horses have an advanced sense of taste that allows them to sort through fodder
Fodder
Fodder or animal feed is any agricultural foodstuff used specifically to feed domesticated livestock such as cattle, goats, sheep, horses, chickens and pigs. Most animal feed is from plants but some is of animal origin...

 to choose what they would most like to eat, and their prehensile
Prehensility
Prehensility is the quality of an appendage or organ that has adapted for grasping or holding. The word is derived from the Latin term prehendere, meaning "to grasp."-Examples:Appendages that can become prehensile include:...

 lips can easily sort even the smallest grains. Horses generally will not eat poisonous plants. However, there are exceptions and horses will occasionally eat toxic amounts of poisonous plants even when there is adequate healthy food.

Movement




All horses move naturally with four basic gaits
Horse gait
Horse gaits are the various ways in which a horse can move, either naturally or as a result of specialized training by humans.-Classification:...

: the four-beat walk, which averages 6.4 kilometres per hour (4 mph); the two-beat trot or jog
Trot (horse gait)
The trot is a two-beat diagonal gait of the horse, where the diagonal pairs of legs move forward at the same time. There is a moment of suspension between each beat....

 at 13 to 19 km/h (8.1 to 11.8 ) (faster for harness racing
Harness racing
Harness racing is a form of horse racing in which the horses race at a specific gait . They usually pull a two-wheeled cart called a sulky, although racing under saddle is also conducted in Europe.-Breeds:...

 horses); the canter or lope
Canter
The canter is a controlled, three-beat gait performed by a horse. It is a natural gait possessed by all horses, faster than most horses' trot but slower than the gallop, and is used by all riders. The speed of the canter varies between 16-27 km/h , depending on the length of the stride of the horse...

, a three-beat gait that is 19 to 24 km/h (11.8 to 14.9 ); and the gallop. The gallop averages 40 to 48 km/h (24.9 to 29.8 ), but the world record for a horse galloping over a short, sprint distance is 88 kilometres per hour (54.7 mph). Besides these basic gaits, some horses perform a two-beat pace, instead of the trot. There also are several four-beat "ambling
Ambling
The term amble or ambling is used to describe a number of four-beat intermediate gaits of horses. All are faster than a walk but usually slower than a canter or gallop...

" gaits that are approximately the speed of a trot or pace, though smoother to ride. These include the lateral rack, running walk
Ambling
The term amble or ambling is used to describe a number of four-beat intermediate gaits of horses. All are faster than a walk but usually slower than a canter or gallop...

, and tölt as well as the diagonal fox trot. Ambling gaits are often genetic in some breeds, known collectively as gaited horse
Gaited horse
Gaited horses are horse breeds that have natural gaited tendencies, that is, the ability to perform one of the smooth to ride, intermediate speed four-beat horse gaits, collectively referred to as ambling gaits....

s. Often, gaited horses replace the trot with one of the ambling gaits.

Behavior



Horses are prey animals with a strong fight-or-flight response
Fight-or-flight response
The fight-or-flight response was first described by Walter Bradford Cannon....

. Their first reaction to threat is to startle and usually flee, although they will stand their ground and defend themselves when flight is not possible or if their young are threatened. They also tend to be curious; when startled, they will often hesitate an instant to ascertain the cause of their fright, and may not always flee from something that they perceive as non-threatening. Most light horse riding breeds were developed for speed, agility, alertness and endurance; natural qualities that extend from their wild ancestors. However, through selective breeding, some breeds of horses are quite docile, particularly certain draft horses. Horses are herd animals, with a clear hierarchy of rank, led by a dominant individual, usually a mare. They are also social creatures who are able to form companionship attachments to their own species and to other animals, including humans. They communicate in various ways, including vocalizations such as nickering or whinnying, mutual grooming
Social grooming
In social animals, including humans, social grooming or allogrooming is an activity in which individuals in a group clean or maintain one another's body or appearance. It is a major social activity, and a means by which animals who live in proximity can bond and reinforce social structures, family...

, and body language
Body language
Body language is a form of non-verbal communication, which consists of body posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements. Humans send and interpret such signals almost entirely subconsciously....

. Many horses will become difficult to manage if they are isolated, but with training, horses can learn to accept a human as a companion, and thus be comfortable away from other horses. However, when confined with insufficient companionship, exercise, or stimulation, individuals may develop stable vices
Stable vices
Stable vices are stereotypies of equines, especially horses. They usually develop as a result of being confined, particularly with insufficient exercise . Vices can develop out of boredom or hunger, excess energy, isolation...

, an assortment of bad habits, mostly stereotypies
Stereotypy (non-human)
In animal behavior, stereotypy, stereotypical or stereotyped behavior has several meanings, leading to ambiguity in the scientific literature. The terms usually refer to Stereotypy, repetitive behaviors in captive animals, particularly those given inadequate mental stimulation...

 of psychological origin, that include wood chewing, wall kicking, "weaving" (rocking back and forth), and other problems.

Intelligence and learning


In the past, horses were considered unintelligent, with no abstract thinking
Concept
The word concept is used in ordinary language as well as in almost all academic disciplines. Particularly in philosophy, psychology and cognitive sciences the term is much used and much discussed. WordNet defines concept: "conception, construct ". However, the meaning of the term concept is much...

 ability, unable to generalize, and driven primarily by a herd mentality
Herd mentality
Herd mentality describes how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors, follow trends, and/or purchase items. Examples of the herd mentality include stock market trends, fashions in apparel, cars, taste in music, home décor, etc...

. However, modern studies show that they perform a number of cognitive
Cognition
In science, cognition refers to mental processes. These processes include attention, remembering, producing and understanding language, solving problems, and making decisions. Cognition is studied in various disciplines such as psychology, philosophy, linguistics, and computer science...

 tasks on a daily basis, meeting mental challenges that include food procurement
Foraging
- Definitions and significance of foraging behavior :Foraging is the act of searching for and exploiting food resources. It affects an animal's fitness because it plays an important role in an animal's ability to survive and reproduce...

 and social system
Social structure
Social structure is a term used in the social sciences to refer to patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of the individuals. The usage of the term "social structure" has changed over time and may reflect the various levels of analysis...

 identification. They also have good spatial discrimination
Spatial Visualization Ability
Spatial visualization ability or Visual-spatial ability is the ability to mentally manipulate 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional figures. It is typically measured with simple cognitive tests and is predictive of user performance with some kinds of user interfaces.-Measurement:The cognitive tests used...

 abilities. Studies have assessed equine intelligence in the realms of problem solving
Problem solving
Problem solving is a mental process and is part of the larger problem process that includes problem finding and problem shaping. Consideredthe most complex of all intellectual functions, problem solving has been defined as higher-order cognitive process that requires the modulation and control of...

, learning speed, and knowledge retention. Results show that horses excel at simple learning, but also are able to solve advanced cognitive challenges that involve categorization
Categorization
Categorization is the process in which ideas and objects are recognized, differentiated and understood. Categorization implies that objects are grouped into categories, usually for some specific purpose. Ideally, a category illuminates a relationship between the subjects and objects of knowledge...

 and concept learning
Concept learning
Concept learning, also known as category learning, concept attainment, and concept formation, is largely based on the works of the cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner...

. They learn from habituation
Habituation
Habituation can be defined as a process or as a procedure. As a process it is defined as a decrease in an elicited behavior resulting from the repeated presentation of an eliciting stimulus...

, desensitization
Desensitization (psychology)
In psychology, desensitization is a process for mitigating the harmful effects of phobias or other disorders. It also occurs when an emotional response is repeatedly evoked in situations in which the action tendency that is associated with the emotion proves irrelevant or unnecessary...

, Pavlovian conditioning
Classical conditioning
Classical conditioning is a form of conditioning that was first demonstrated by Ivan Pavlov...

, and operant conditioning
Operant conditioning
Operant conditioning is a form of psychological learning during which an individual modifies the occurrence and form of its own behavior due to the association of the behavior with a stimulus...

. They respond to and learn from both positive and negative reinforcement
Reinforcement
Reinforcement is a term in operant conditioning and behavior analysis for the process of increasing the rate or probability of a behavior in the form of a "response" by the delivery or emergence of a stimulus Reinforcement is a term in operant conditioning and behavior analysis for the process of...

. Recent studies even suggest horses are able to count if the quantity involved is less than four.

Domesticated horses tend to face greater mental challenges than wild horses, because they live in artificial environments that stifle instinct
Instinct
Instinct or innate behavior is the inherent inclination of a living organism toward a particular behavior.The simplest example of an instinctive behavior is a fixed action pattern, in which a very short to medium length sequence of actions, without variation, are carried out in response to a...

ive behavior while learning tasks that are not natural. Horses are creatures of habit
Habit (psychology)
Habits are routines of behavior that are repeated regularly and tend to occur subconsciously. Habitual behavior often goes unnoticed in persons exhibiting it, because a person does not need to engage in self-analysis when undertaking routine tasks...

 that respond and adapt well to regimentation, and respond best when the same routines and techniques are used consistently. Some trainers believe that "intelligent" horses are reflections of intelligent trainers who effectively use response conditioning techniques and positive reinforcement to train in the style that fits best with an individual animal's natural inclinations. Others who handle horses regularly note that personality also may play a role separate from intelligence in determining how a given animal responds to various experiences.

Temperament



Horses are mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s, and as such are "warm-blooded
Warm-blooded
The term warm-blooded is a colloquial term to describe animal species which have a relatively higher blood temperature, and maintain thermal homeostasis primarily through internal metabolic processes...

" creatures, as opposed to cold-blooded
Poikilotherm
A poikilotherm is an organism whose internal temperature varies considerably. It is the opposite of a homeotherm, an organism which maintains thermal homeostasis. Usually the variation is a consequence of variation in the ambient environmental temperature...

 reptile
Reptile
Reptiles are members of a class of air-breathing, ectothermic vertebrates which are characterized by laying shelled eggs , and having skin covered in scales and/or scutes. They are tetrapods, either having four limbs or being descended from four-limbed ancestors...

s. However, these words have developed a separate meaning in the context of equine terminology, used to describe temperament, not body temperature
Thermoregulation
Thermoregulation is the ability of an organism to keep its body temperature within certain boundaries, even when the surrounding temperature is very different...

. For example, the "hot-bloods", such as many race horses
Horse racing
Horse racing is an equestrian sport that has a long history. Archaeological records indicate that horse racing occurred in ancient Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. Both chariot and mounted horse racing were events in the ancient Greek Olympics by 648 BC...

, exhibit more sensitivity and energy, while the "cold-bloods", such as most draft breeds
Draft horse
A draft horse , draught horse or dray horse , less often called a work horse or heavy horse, is a large horse bred for hard, heavy tasks such as ploughing and farm labour...

, are quieter and calmer. Sometimes "hot-bloods" are classified as "light horses" or "riding horses", with the "cold-bloods" classified as "draft horses" or "work horses".
"Hot blooded" breeds include "oriental horse
Oriental horse
The term oriental horse refers to the ancient breeds of horses developed in the Middle East, such as the Arabian, Akhal-Teke, Barb, and the now-extinct Turkoman horse. They tend to be thin-skinned, long-legged, slim in build and more physically refined than other types, but with great endurance...

s" such as the Akhal-Teke
Akhal-Teke
The Akhal-Teke is a horse breed from Turkmenistan, where they are a national emblem. They are noted for their speed and for endurance on long marches. These "golden-horses" are adapted to severe climatic conditions and are thought to be one of the oldest surviving horse breeds...

, Arabian horse
Arabian horse
The Arabian or Arab horse is a breed of horse that originated on the Arabian Peninsula. With a distinctive head shape and high tail carriage, the Arabian is one of the most easily recognizable horse breeds in the world. It is also one of the oldest breeds, with archaeological evidence of horses...

, Barb
Barb (horse)
Developed on the Barbary Coast of North Africa, the Barb horse is a desert breed with great hardiness and stamina. The Barb generally possesses a fiery temperament and an atypical sport-horse conformation, but nevertheless has influenced modern breeds....

 and now-extinct Turkoman horse
Turkoman Horse
The Turkoman horse, or Turkmene, was an Oriental horse breed from the steppes of Central Asia, now extinct. Modern descendants include the Akhal-Teke and the Yamud horse breeds. Horses bred in Turkmenistan are still referred to as Turkoman, and have similar characteristics...

, as well as the Thoroughbred
Thoroughbred
The Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing. Although the word thoroughbred is sometimes used to refer to any breed of purebred horse, it technically refers only to the Thoroughbred breed...

, a breed developed in England from the older oriental breeds. Hot bloods tend to be spirited, bold, and learn quickly. They are bred for agility and speed. They tend to be physically refined—thin-skinned, slim, and long-legged. The original oriental breeds were brought to Europe from the Middle East and North Africa when European breeders wished to infuse these traits into racing and light cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 horses.

Muscular, heavy draft horse
Draft horse
A draft horse , draught horse or dray horse , less often called a work horse or heavy horse, is a large horse bred for hard, heavy tasks such as ploughing and farm labour...

s are known as "cold bloods", as they are bred not only for strength, but also to have the calm, patient temperament needed to pull a plow or a heavy carriage full of people. They are sometimes nicknamed "gentle giants". Well-known draft breeds include the Belgian
Belgian (horse)
The Belgian Draft horse or Belgian, also known as Belgian Heavy Horse, Brabançon, or Brabant, is a draft horse breed from the Brabant region of modern Belgium, where it is called the or Flemish: . It is one of the strongest of the heavy breeds...

 and the Clydesdale. Some, like the Percheron
Percheron
The Percheron is a breed of draft horse that originated in the Perche valley in northern France. Percherons are usually gray or black in color. They are well-muscled, and known for their intelligence and willingness to work. Although their exact origins are unknown, the ancestors of the breed were...

 are lighter and livelier, developed to pull carriages or to plow large fields in drier climates. Others, such as the Shire
Shire horse
The Shire horse is a breed of draught horse or draft horse . The breed comes in many colours, including black, bay and grey. They are a tall breed, with mares standing and over and stallions standing and over. The breed has an enormous capacity for weight pulling, and Shires have held the world...

, are slower and more powerful, bred to plow fields with heavy, clay-based soils. The cold-blooded group also includes some pony breeds.

"Warmblood
Warmblood
Warmbloods are a group of middle-weight horse types and breeds, primarily originating in Europe, registered with organizations that are characterized by open studbook policy, studbook selection, and the aim of breeding for equestrian sport...

" breeds, such as the Trakehner
Trakehner
Trakehner is a light warmblood breed of horse, originally developed at the East Prussian state stud farm in the town of Trakehnen from which the breed takes its name...

 or Hanoverian
Hanoverian (horse)
A Hanoverian is a warmblood horse originating in Germany, which is often seen in the Olympic Games and other competitive English riding styles, and have won gold medals in all three equestrian Olympic competitions. It is one of the oldest, most numerous, and most successful of the warmbloods...

, developed when European carriage and war horses
Horses in warfare
The first use of horses in warfare occurred over 5,000 years ago. The earliest evidence of horses ridden in warfare dates from Eurasia between 4000 and 3000 BC. A Sumerian illustration of warfare from 2500 BC depicts some type of equine pulling wagons...

 were crossed with Arabians or Thoroughbreds, producing a riding horse with more refinement than a draft horse, but greater size and milder temperament than a lighter breed. Certain pony
Pony
A pony is a small horse . Depending on context, a pony may be a horse that is under an approximate or exact height at the withers, or a small horse with a specific conformation and temperament. There are many different breeds...

 breeds with warmblood characteristics have been developed for smaller riders. Warmbloods are considered a "light horse" or "riding horse".

Today, the term "Warmblood" refers to a specific subset of sport horse
Sport horse
Sport horse, or Sporthorse, is a term used to describe a type of horse, rather than any particular breed. The term generally refers to horses bred for the traditional Olympic equestrian sporting events of dressage, eventing, show jumping, and combined driving. The precise definition varies...

 breeds that are used for competition in dressage
Dressage
Dressage is a competitive equestrian sport, defined by the International Equestrian Federation as "the highest expression of horse training." Competitions are held at all levels from amateur to the World Equestrian Games...

 and show jumping
Show jumping
Show jumping, also known as "stadium jumping," "open jumping," or "jumpers," is a member of a family of English riding equestrian events that also includes dressage, eventing, hunters, and equitation. Jumping classes commonly are seen at horse shows throughout the world, including the Olympics...

. Strictly speaking, the term "warm blood
Warmblood
Warmbloods are a group of middle-weight horse types and breeds, primarily originating in Europe, registered with organizations that are characterized by open studbook policy, studbook selection, and the aim of breeding for equestrian sport...

" refers to any cross between cold-blooded and hot-blooded breeds. Examples include breeds such as the Irish Draught
Irish Draught
The Irish Draught horse is the national horse breed of Ireland which developed primarily for farm use. Today, they are especially popular for crossing with Thoroughbreds and warmbloods, producing the popular Irish Sport Horses which excel at the highest levels of eventing and show jumping.-...

 or the Cleveland Bay
Cleveland Bay
The Cleveland Bay is a breed of horse that originated in England during the 17th century, named after its colouring and the Cleveland district of Yorkshire. It is a well-muscled horse, with legs that are strong but short in relation to the body. The horses are always bay in colour, although a...

. The term was once used to refer to breeds of light riding horse other than Thoroughbreds or Arabians, such as the Morgan horse
Morgan horse
The Morgan is one of the earliest horse breeds developed in the United States. Tracing back to the stallion Figure, later named Justin Morgan after his best-known owner, the breed excels in many disciplines, and is known for its versatility....

.

Sleep patterns




Horses are able to sleep both standing up and lying down. In an adaptation from life in the wild, horses are able to enter light sleep by using a "stay apparatus" in their legs, allowing them to doze without collapsing. Horses sleep better when in groups because some animals will sleep while others stand guard to watch for predators. A horse kept alone will not sleep well because its instinct
Instinct
Instinct or innate behavior is the inherent inclination of a living organism toward a particular behavior.The simplest example of an instinctive behavior is a fixed action pattern, in which a very short to medium length sequence of actions, without variation, are carried out in response to a...

s are to keep a constant eye out for danger.

Unlike humans, horses do not sleep in a solid, unbroken period of time, but take many short periods of rest. Horses spend four to fifteen hours a day in standing rest, and from a few minutes to several hours lying down. Total sleep time in a 24-hour period may range from several minutes to a couple of hours, mostly in short intervals of about 15 minutes each. The average sleep time of a domestic horse is said to be 2.9 hours per day.

Horses must lie down to reach REM sleep. They only have to lie down for an hour or two every few days to meet their minimum REM sleep requirements. However, if a horse is never allowed to lie down, after several days it will become sleep-deprived, and in rare cases may suddenly collapse as it involuntarily slips into REM sleep while still standing. This condition differs from narcolepsy
Narcolepsy
Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder, or dyssomnia, characterized by excessive sleepiness and sleep attacks at inappropriate times, such as while at work. People with narcolepsy often experience disturbed nocturnal sleep and an abnormal daytime sleep pattern, which often is confused with insomnia...

, although horses may also suffer from that disorder.

Taxonomy and evolution


The horse adapted to survive in areas of wide-open terrain with sparse vegetation, surviving in an ecosystem
Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

 where other large grazing animals, especially ruminant
Ruminant
A ruminant is a mammal of the order Artiodactyla that digests plant-based food by initially softening it within the animal's first compartment of the stomach, principally through bacterial actions, then regurgitating the semi-digested mass, now known as cud, and chewing it again...

s, could not. Horses and other equids are odd-toed ungulate
Odd-toed ungulate
An odd-toed ungulate is a mammal with hooves that feature an odd number of toes. Odd-toed ungulates comprise the order Perissodactyla . The middle toe on each hoof is usually larger than its neighbours...

s of the order
Order (biology)
In scientific classification used in biology, the order is# a taxonomic rank used in the classification of organisms. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, family, genus, and species, with order fitting in between class and family...

 Perissodactyla
Odd-toed ungulate
An odd-toed ungulate is a mammal with hooves that feature an odd number of toes. Odd-toed ungulates comprise the order Perissodactyla . The middle toe on each hoof is usually larger than its neighbours...

, a group of mammals that was dominant during the Tertiary
Tertiary
The Tertiary is a deprecated term for a geologic period 65 million to 2.6 million years ago. The Tertiary covered the time span between the superseded Secondary period and the Quaternary...

 period. In the past, this order contained 14 families
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

, but only three—Equidae
Equidae
Equidae is the taxonomic family of horses and related animals, including the extant horses, donkeys, and zebras, and many other species known only from fossils. All extant species are in the genus Equus...

 (the horse and related species), the tapir
Tapir
A Tapir is a large browsing mammal, similar in shape to a pig, with a short, prehensile snout. Tapirs inhabit jungle and forest regions of South America, Central America, and Southeast Asia. There are four species of Tapirs: the Brazilian Tapir, the Malayan Tapir, Baird's Tapir and the Mountain...

, and the rhinoceros
Rhinoceros
Rhinoceros , also known as rhino, is a group of five extant species of odd-toed ungulates in the family Rhinocerotidae. Two of these species are native to Africa and three to southern Asia....

—have survived to the present day.

The earliest known member of the Equidae family was the Hyracotherium
Hyracotherium
Hyracotherium , also known as Eohippus or the dawn horse, is an extinct genus of very small perissodactyl ungulates that lived in the woodlands of the northern hemisphere, with species ranging throughout Asia, Europe, and North America during the early Tertiary Period and the early to mid Eocene...

, which lived between 45 and 55 million years ago, during the Eocene
Eocene
The Eocene Epoch, lasting from about 56 to 34 million years ago , is a major division of the geologic timescale and the second epoch of the Paleogene Period in the Cenozoic Era. The Eocene spans the time from the end of the Palaeocene Epoch to the beginning of the Oligocene Epoch. The start of the...

 period. It had 4 toes on each front foot, and 3 toes on each back foot. The extra toe on the front feet soon disappeared with the Mesohippus
Mesohippus
Mesohippus is an extinct genus of early horse. It lived some 40 to 30 million years ago from the late Eocene to the mid-Oligocene...

, which lived 32 to 37 million years ago. Over time, the extra side toes shrank in size until they vanished. All that remains of them in modern horses is a set of small vestigial bones on the leg below the knee, known informally as splint bones. Their legs also lengthened as their toes disappeared until they were a hooved animal capable of running at great speed. By about 5 million years ago, the modern Equus had evolved. Equid teeth also evolved from browsing on soft, tropical plants to adapt to browsing of drier plant material, then to grazing of tougher plains grasses. Thus proto-horses changed from leaf-eating forest-dwellers to grass-eating inhabitants of semi-arid regions worldwide, including the steppe
Steppe
In physical geography, steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes...

s of Eurasia and the Great Plains
Great Plains
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland, which lies west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. This area covers parts of the U.S...

 of North America.

By about 15,000 years ago, Equus ferus was a widespread holarctic
Holarctic
The Holarctic ecozone refers to the habitats found throughout the northern continents of the world as a whole. This region is divided into the Palearctic, consisting of Northern Africa and all of Eurasia, with the exception of Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, and the Nearctic,...

 species. Horse bones from this time period, the late Pleistocene
Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

, are found in Europe, Eurasia, Beringia, and North America. Yet between 10,000 and 7,600 years ago, the horse became extinct in North America and rare elsewhere. The reasons for this extinction are not fully known, but one theory notes that extinction in North America paralleled human arrival. Another theory points to climate change, noting that approximately 12,500 years ago, the grasses characteristic of a steppe ecosystem gave way to shrub tundra
Tundra
In physical geography, tundra is a biome where the tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons. The term tundra comes through Russian тундра from the Kildin Sami word tūndâr "uplands," "treeless mountain tract." There are three types of tundra: Arctic tundra, alpine...

, which was covered with unpalatable plants.

Wild species surviving into modern times


A truly wild horse is a species or subspecies with no ancestors that were ever domesticated. Therefore, most "wild" horses today are actually feral horse
Feral horse
A feral horse is a free-roaming horse of domesticated ancestry. As such, a feral horse is not a wild animal in the sense of an animal without domesticated ancestors. However, some populations of feral horses are managed as wildlife, and these horses often are popularly called "wild" horses...

s, animals that escaped or were turned loose from domestic herds and the descendants of those animals. Only two never-domesticated subspecies, the Tarpan
Tarpan
Tarpan is an extinct subspecies of wild horse. The last individual of this subspecies died in captivity in Russia in 1909....

 and the Przewalski's Horse
Przewalski's Horse
Przewalski's Horse or Dzungarian Horse, is a rare and endangered subspecies of wild horse native to the steppes of central Asia, specifically China and Mongolia.At one time extinct in the wild, it has been reintroduced to its native habitat in Mongolia at the Khustain Nuruu...

, survived into recorded history.

The only true wild horse alive today is the Przewalski's Horse
Przewalski's Horse
Przewalski's Horse or Dzungarian Horse, is a rare and endangered subspecies of wild horse native to the steppes of central Asia, specifically China and Mongolia.At one time extinct in the wild, it has been reintroduced to its native habitat in Mongolia at the Khustain Nuruu...

 (Equus ferus przewalskii), named after the Russian explorer Nikolai Przhevalsky
Nikolai Przhevalsky
Nikolai Mikhaylovich Przhevalsky and Prjevalsky, ; —), was a Russian geographer of Polish background and explorer of Central and Eastern Asia. Although he never reached his final goal, Lhasa in Tibet, he travelled through regions unknown to the west, such as northern Tibet, modern Qinghai and...

. It is a rare Asian animal, also known as the Mongolian Wild Horse; Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

n people know it as the taki, and the Kyrgyz people call it a kirtag. The species was presumed extinct in the wild between 1969 and 1992, while a small breeding population survived in zoos around the world. In 1992, it was reestablished in the wild due to the conservation efforts of numerous zoos. Today, a small wild breeding population exists in Mongolia. There are additional animals still maintained at zoos throughout the world.

The Tarpan
Tarpan
Tarpan is an extinct subspecies of wild horse. The last individual of this subspecies died in captivity in Russia in 1909....

 or European Wild Horse (Equus ferus ferus) was found in Europe and much of Asia. It survived into the historical era, but became extinct
Extinction
In biology and ecology, extinction is the end of an organism or of a group of organisms , normally a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point...

 in 1909, when the last captive died in a Russian zoo. Thus, the genetic line was lost. Attempts have been made to recreate the Tarpan, which resulted in horses with outward physical similarities, but nonetheless descended from domesticated ancestors and not true wild horses.

Periodically, populations of horses in isolated areas are speculated to be relict
Relict
A relict is a surviving remnant of a natural phenomenon.* In biology a relict is an organism that at an earlier time was abundant in a large area but now occurs at only one or a few small areas....

 populations of wild horses, but generally have been proven to be feral or domestic. For example, the Riwoche horse
Riwoche horse
The Riwoche horse is a very small horse, discovered in an isolated region of Tibet in 1995. Previously unknown to science, these small animals may be an evolutionary link between the prehistoric wild horse and the modern domestic horse, though it could also be a domesticated variety that reverted...

 of Tibet was proposed as such, but testing did not reveal genetic differences with domesticated horses, Similarly, the Sorraia
Sorraia
The Sorraia is a rare breed of horse indigenous to the portion of the Iberian peninsula known today as Portugal. The Sorraia is known for its primitive features, including a convex profile and dun coloring with primitive markings...

 of Portugal was proposed as a direct descendant of the Tarpan
Tarpan
Tarpan is an extinct subspecies of wild horse. The last individual of this subspecies died in captivity in Russia in 1909....

 based on shared characteristics, but genetic studies have shown that the Sorraia is more closely related to other horse breeds and that the outward similarity is an unreliable measure of relatedness.

Other modern equids



Besides the horse, there are seven other species of genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 Equus in the Equidae family
Family
In human context, a family is a group of people affiliated by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence. In most societies it is the principal institution for the socialization of children...

. These are the ass or donkey
Donkey
The donkey or ass, Equus africanus asinus, is a domesticated member of the Equidae or horse family. The wild ancestor of the donkey is the African Wild Ass, E...

, Equus asinus; the mountain zebra
Mountain Zebra
The Mountain Zebra, Equus zebra, is a threatened species of equid native to south-western Angola, Namibia and South Africa. It has two subspecies, the Cape Mountain Zebra and Hartmann's Mountain Zebra , though it has been suggested these should be considered separate species.-Taxonomy:In 2004,...

, Equus zebra; plains zebra
Plains Zebra
The plains zebra , also known as the common zebra or Burchell's zebra, is the most common and geographically widespread species of zebra. It ranges from the south of Ethiopia through East Africa to as far south as Angola and eastern South Africa...

, Equus quagga; Grévy's zebra
Grevy's Zebra
The Grévy's zebra , also known as the Imperial zebra, is the largest extant wild equid and one of three species of zebra, the other two being the plains zebra and the mountain zebra. Named after Jules Grévy, it is the sole extant member of the subgenus Dolichohippus. The Grévy's zebra is found in...

, Equus grevyi; the kiang
Kiang
The kiang is the largest of the wild asses. It is native to the Tibetan Plateau, where it inhabits montane and alpine grasslands. Its current range is restricted to Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, plains of the Tibetan plateau and northern Nepal along the Tibetan border...

, Equus kiang; and the onager
Onager
The Onager is a large member of the genus Equus of the family Equidae native to the deserts of Syria, Iran, Pakistan, India, Israel and Tibet...

, Equus hemionus.

Horses can crossbreed
Crossbreed
A crossbreed or crossbred usually refers to an animal with purebred parents of two different breeds, varieties, or populations. Crossbreeding refers to the process of breeding such an animal, often with the intention to create offspring that share the traits of both parent lineages, or producing...

 with other members of their genus. The most common hybrid is the mule
Mule
A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. Horses and donkeys are different species, with different numbers of chromosomes. Of the two F1 hybrids between these two species, a mule is easier to obtain than a hinny...

, a cross between a "jack" (male donkey) and a mare
Mare
Female horses are called mares.Mare is the Latin word for "sea".The word may also refer to:-People:* Ahmed Marzooq, also known as Mare, a footballer and Secretary General of Maldives Olympic Committee* Mare Winningham, American actress and singer...

. A related hybrid, a hinny
Hinny
A hinny is a domestic equine hybrid that is the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey . It is similar to the more common mule, which is the product of a female horse and a male donkey....

, is a cross between a stallion and a jenny
Jenny (donkey)
A jenny is the term used to describe a female ass or donkey. Occasionally, a female mule is referred to as a jenny, but more often, the term "molly," "mare" or "mule mare" is used. In western Canada, the term "jennet" is sometimes used instead of "jenny," though the term Jennet usually refers to a...

 (female donkey). Other hybrids include the zorse, a cross between a zebra and a horse. With rare exceptions, most hybrids are sterile
Infertility
Infertility primarily refers to the biological inability of a person to contribute to conception. Infertility may also refer to the state of a woman who is unable to carry a pregnancy to full term...

 and cannot reproduce.

Domestication




Domestication of the horse most likely took place in central Asia prior to 3500 BC. Two major sources of information are used to determine where and when the horse was first domesticated and how the domesticated horse spread around the world. The first source is based on palaeological
Paleontology
Paleontology "old, ancient", ὄν, ὀντ- "being, creature", and λόγος "speech, thought") is the study of prehistoric life. It includes the study of fossils to determine organisms' evolution and interactions with each other and their environments...

 and archaeological discoveries, the second source is a comparison of DNA obtained from modern horses to that from bones and teeth of ancient horse remains.

The earliest archaeological evidence for the domestication of the horse
Domestication of the horse
There are a number of hypotheses on many of the key issues regarding the domestication of the horse. Although horses appeared in Paleolithic cave art as early as 30,000 BCE, these were truly wild horses and were probably hunted for meat. How and when horses became domesticated is disputed...

 comes from sites in Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 and Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

, dating to approximately 3500–4000 BC. By 3000 BC, the horse was completely domesticated and by 2000 BC there was a sharp increase in the number of horse bones found in human settlements in northwestern Europe, indicating the spread of domesticated horses throughout the continent. The most recent, but most irrefutable evidence of domestication comes from sites where horse remains were interred with chariots in graves of the Sintashta
Sintashta
Sintashta is an archaeological site in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia. It is the remains of a fortified settlement dating to the Bronze Age, c. 2800–1600 BC, and is the type site of the Sintashta culture...

 and Petrovka
Petrovka settlement
The Petrovka fortified settlement, namesake of the 2nd millennium BC Sintashta-Petrovka culture lies at the Ishim River, near the modern village of Petrovka, Kazakhstan ....

 cultures c. 2100 BC.

Domestication is also studied by using the genetic material of present day horses and comparing it with the genetic material present in the bones and teeth of horse remains found in archaeological and palaeological excavations. The variation in the genetic material shows that very few wild stallions contributed to the domestic horse, while many mares were part of early domesticated herds. This is reflected in the difference in genetic variation between the DNA that is passed on along the paternal, or sire line (Y-chromosome) versus that passed on along the maternal, or dam line (mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA is the DNA located in organelles called mitochondria, structures within eukaryotic cells that convert the chemical energy from food into a form that cells can use, adenosine triphosphate...

). There are very low levels of Y-chromosome variability, but a great deal of genetic variation in mitochondrial DNA. There is also regional variation in mitochondrial DNA due to the inclusion of wild mares in domestic herds. Another characteristic of domestication is an increase in coat color variation. In horses, this increased dramatically between 5000 and 3000 BC.

Before the availability of DNA techniques to resolve the questions related to the domestication of the horse, various hypothesis were proposed. One classification was based on body types and conformation, suggesting the presence of four basic prototypes that had adapted to their environment prior to domestication. Another hypothesis held that the four prototypes originated from a single wild species and that all different body types were entirely a result of selective breeding
Selective breeding
Selective breeding is the process of breeding plants and animals for particular genetic traits. Typically, strains that are selectively bred are domesticated, and the breeding is sometimes done by a professional breeder. Bred animals are known as breeds, while bred plants are known as varieties,...

 after domestication. However, the lack of a detectable substructure in the horse has resulted in a rejection of both hypotheses.

Feral populations



Feral
Feral
A feral organism is one that has changed from being domesticated to being wild or untamed. In the case of plants it is a movement from cultivated to uncultivated or controlled to volunteer. The introduction of feral animals or plants to their non-native regions, like any introduced species, may...

 horses are born and live in the wild, but are descended from domesticated animals. Many populations of feral horse
Feral horse
A feral horse is a free-roaming horse of domesticated ancestry. As such, a feral horse is not a wild animal in the sense of an animal without domesticated ancestors. However, some populations of feral horses are managed as wildlife, and these horses often are popularly called "wild" horses...

s exist throughout the world. Studies of feral herds have provided useful insights into the behavior of prehistoric horses, as well as greater understanding of the instincts and behaviors that drive horses that live in domesticated conditions.

There are also semi-feral
Semi-feral
A semi-feral animal is an animal that lives predominantly in a feral state, but has some contact and experience with humans. This may be due to having been born into a domesticated state and then reverting to life in wild conditions, or it may be an animal that grows up in essentially wild...

 horses in many parts of the world, such as Dartmoor
Dartmoor
Dartmoor is an area of moorland in south Devon, England. Protected by National Park status, it covers .The granite upland dates from the Carboniferous period of geological history. The moorland is capped with many exposed granite hilltops known as tors, providing habitats for Dartmoor wildlife. The...

 and the New Forest
New Forest
The New Forest is an area of southern England which includes the largest remaining tracts of unenclosed pasture land, heathland and forest in the heavily-populated south east of England. It covers south-west Hampshire and extends into south-east Wiltshire....

 in the UK, where the animals are all privately owned but live for significant amounts of time in "wild" conditions on undeveloped, often public, lands. Owners of such animals often pay a fee for grazing rights.

Breeds


The concept of purebred
Purebred
Purebreds, also called purebreeds, are cultivated varieties or cultivars of an animal species, achieved through the process of selective breeding...

 bloodstock and a controlled, written breed registry
Breed registry
A breed registry, also known as a stud book or register, in animal husbandry and the hobby of animal fancy, is an official list of animals within a specific breed whose parents are known. Animals are usually registered by their breeders when they are still young...

 has come to be particularly significant and important in modern times. Sometimes purebred horses are incorrectly or inaccurately called "thoroughbreds". Thoroughbred
Thoroughbred
The Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing. Although the word thoroughbred is sometimes used to refer to any breed of purebred horse, it technically refers only to the Thoroughbred breed...

 is a specific breed of horse, while a "purebred" is a horse (or any other animal) with a defined pedigree
Pedigree chart
A pedigree chart is a diagram that shows the occurrence and appearance or phenotypes of a particular gene or organism and its ancestors from one generation to the next, most commonly humans, show dogs, and race horses....

 recognized by a breed registry. Horse breeds are groups of horses with distinctive characteristics that are transmitted consistently to their offspring, such as conformation
Equine conformation
Equine conformation evaluates the degree of correctness of a horse's bone structure, musculature, and its body proportions in relation to each other. Undesirable conformation can limit the ability to perform a specific task. Although there are several universal "faults," a horse's conformation is...

, color, performance ability, or disposition. These inherited traits result from a combination of natural crosses and artificial selection
Artificial selection
Artificial selection describes intentional breeding for certain traits, or combination of traits. The term was utilized by Charles Darwin in contrast to natural selection, in which the differential reproduction of organisms with certain traits is attributed to improved survival or reproductive...

 methods. Horses have been selectively bred
Selective breeding
Selective breeding is the process of breeding plants and animals for particular genetic traits. Typically, strains that are selectively bred are domesticated, and the breeding is sometimes done by a professional breeder. Bred animals are known as breeds, while bred plants are known as varieties,...

 since their domestication
Domestication of the horse
There are a number of hypotheses on many of the key issues regarding the domestication of the horse. Although horses appeared in Paleolithic cave art as early as 30,000 BCE, these were truly wild horses and were probably hunted for meat. How and when horses became domesticated is disputed...

. An early example of people who practiced selective horse breeding
Horse breeding
Horse breeding is reproduction in horses, and particularly the human-directed process of selective breeding of animals, particularly purebred horses of a given breed. Planned matings can be used to produce specifically desired characteristics in domesticated horses...

 were the Bedouin
Bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

, who had a reputation for careful practices, keeping extensive pedigrees of their Arabian horse
Arabian horse
The Arabian or Arab horse is a breed of horse that originated on the Arabian Peninsula. With a distinctive head shape and high tail carriage, the Arabian is one of the most easily recognizable horse breeds in the world. It is also one of the oldest breeds, with archaeological evidence of horses...

s and placing great value upon pure bloodlines. These pedigrees were originally transmitted via an oral tradition
Oral tradition
Oral tradition and oral lore is cultural material and traditions transmitted orally from one generation to another. The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants...

. In the 14th century, Carthusian
Carthusian
The Carthusian Order, also called the Order of St. Bruno, is a Roman Catholic religious order of enclosed monastics. The order was founded by Saint Bruno of Cologne in 1084 and includes both monks and nuns...

 monks of southern Spain kept meticulous pedigrees of bloodstock lineages still found today in the Andalusian horse
Andalusian horse
The Andalusian, also known as the Pure Spanish Horse or PRE , is a horse breed developed in the Iberian Peninsula. Its ancestors have been present on the Iberian Peninsula for thousands of years. The Andalusian has been recognized as an individual breed since the 15th century, and its conformation...

.

Breeds developed due to a need for "form to function", the necessity to develop certain characteristics in order to perform a particular type of work. Thus, thus a powerful but refined breed such as the Andalusian developed as riding horses with an aptitude for dressage
Dressage
Dressage is a competitive equestrian sport, defined by the International Equestrian Federation as "the highest expression of horse training." Competitions are held at all levels from amateur to the World Equestrian Games...

,. Heavy draft horses developed out of a need to perform demanding farm
Farm
A farm is an area of land, or, for aquaculture, lake, river or sea, including various structures, devoted primarily to the practice of producing and managing food , fibres and, increasingly, fuel. It is the basic production facility in food production. Farms may be owned and operated by a single...

 work and pull heavy wagons. Other horse breeds developed specifically for light agricultural work, carriage and road work, various sport disciplines, or simply as pets. Some breeds developed through centuries of crossing other breeds, while others descended from a single foundation sire
Foundation bloodstock
Foundation bloodstock or foundation stock are horses that are the progenitor, or foundation, of a new horse breed or a given bloodline within a breed. The term is also used in a similar manner when discussing purebred dogs...

, or other limited or restricted foundation bloodstock. One of the earliest formal registries was General Stud Book
General Stud Book
The General Stud Book was the original breed registry of the United Kingdom for horses. It specifically was used to document the breeding of Thoroughbreds and related foundation bloodstock such as the Arabian horse....

 for Thoroughbreds, which began in 1791 and traced back to the foundation bloodstock
Foundation bloodstock
Foundation bloodstock or foundation stock are horses that are the progenitor, or foundation, of a new horse breed or a given bloodline within a breed. The term is also used in a similar manner when discussing purebred dogs...

 for the breed. There are more than 300 horse breeds in the world today.

Interaction with humans


Worldwide, horses play a role within human cultures and have done so for millennia. Horses are used for leisure activities, sports, and working purposes. The Food and Agriculture Organization
Food and Agriculture Organization
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and...

 (FAO) estimates that in 2008, there were almost 59,000,000 horses in the world, with around 33,500,000 in the Americas, 13,800,000 in Asia and 6,300,000 in Europe and smaller portions in Africa and Oceania. There are estimated to be 9,500,000 horses in the United States alone. The American Horse Council
American Horse Council
The American Horse Council is a trade organization in Washington, DC representing the horse industry. It lobbies before Congress and Federal agencies for the interests of the horse industry, and serves as a unified voice for the horse industry....

 estimates that horse-related activities have a direct impact on the economy of the United States of over $39 billion, and when indirect spending is considered, the impact is over $102 billion. In a 2004 "poll" conducted by Animal Planet
Animal Planet
Animal Planet is an American cable tv specialty channel that launched on October 1, 1996. It is distributed by Discovery Communications. A high-definition simulcast of the channel launched on September 1, 2007.-History:...

, more than 50,000 viewers from 73 countries voted for the horse as the world's 4th favorite animal.

Communication between human and horse is paramount in any equestrian activity; to aid this process horses are usually ridden with a saddle
Saddle
A saddle is a supportive structure for a rider or other load, fastened to an animal's back by a girth. The most common type is the equestrian saddle designed for a horse, but specialized saddles have been created for camels and other creatures...

 on their backs to assist the rider with balance and positioning, and a bridle
Bridle
A bridle is a piece of equipment used to direct a horse. As defined in the Oxford English Dictionary, the "bridle" includes both the headstall that holds a bit that goes in the mouth of a horse, and the reins that are attached to the bit....

 or related headgear to assist the rider in maintaining control. Sometimes horses are ridden without a saddle, and occasionally, horses are trained to perform without a bridle or other headgear. Many horses are also driven
Driving (horse)
Driving, when applied to horses, ponies, mules, or donkeys, is a broad term for hitching equines to a wagon, carriage, cart, sleigh, or other horse-drawn vehicle by means of a harness and working them in this way...

, which requires a harness
Horse harness
A horse harness is a type of horse tack that allows a horse or other equine to pull various horse-drawn vehicles such as a carriage, wagon or sleigh. Harnesses may also be used to hitch animals to other loads such as a plow or canal boat....

, bridle, and some type of vehicle
Horse-drawn vehicle
A horse-drawn vehicle is a mechanized piece of equipment pulled by one horse or by a team of horses. These vehicles typically had two or four wheels and were used to carry passengers and/or a load...

.

Sport


Historically, equestrians honed their skills through games and races. Equestrian sports provided entertainment for crowds and honed the excellent horsemanship that was needed in battle. Many sports, such as dressage
Dressage
Dressage is a competitive equestrian sport, defined by the International Equestrian Federation as "the highest expression of horse training." Competitions are held at all levels from amateur to the World Equestrian Games...

, eventing
Eventing
Eventing is an equestrian event comprising dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. This event has its roots in a comprehensive cavalry test requiring mastery of several types of riding...

 and show jumping
Show jumping
Show jumping, also known as "stadium jumping," "open jumping," or "jumpers," is a member of a family of English riding equestrian events that also includes dressage, eventing, hunters, and equitation. Jumping classes commonly are seen at horse shows throughout the world, including the Olympics...

, have origins in military training
Horses in warfare
The first use of horses in warfare occurred over 5,000 years ago. The earliest evidence of horses ridden in warfare dates from Eurasia between 4000 and 3000 BC. A Sumerian illustration of warfare from 2500 BC depicts some type of equine pulling wagons...

, which were focused on control and balance of both horse and rider. Other sports, such as rodeo
Rodeo
Rodeo is a competitive sport which arose out of the working practices of cattle herding in Spain, Mexico, and later the United States, Canada, South America and Australia. It was based on the skills required of the working vaqueros and later, cowboys, in what today is the western United States,...

, developed from practical skills such as those needed on working ranch
Ranch
A ranch is an area of landscape, including various structures, given primarily to the practice of ranching, the practice of raising grazing livestock such as cattle or sheep for meat or wool. The word most often applies to livestock-raising operations in the western United States and Canada, though...

es and stations
Station (Australian agriculture)
Station is the term for a large Australian landholding used for livestock production. It corresponds to the North American term ranch or South American estancia...

. Sport hunting from horseback evolved from earlier practical hunting techniques. Horse racing
Horse racing
Horse racing is an equestrian sport that has a long history. Archaeological records indicate that horse racing occurred in ancient Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. Both chariot and mounted horse racing were events in the ancient Greek Olympics by 648 BC...

 of all types evolved from impromptu competitions between riders or drivers. All forms of competition, requiring demanding and specialized skills from both horse and rider, resulted in the systematic development of specialized breeds and equipment for each sport. The popularity of equestrian sports through the centuries has resulted in the preservation of skills that would otherwise have disappeared after horses stopped being used in combat.

Horses are trained to be ridden or driven in a variety of sporting competitions. Examples include show jumping
Show jumping
Show jumping, also known as "stadium jumping," "open jumping," or "jumpers," is a member of a family of English riding equestrian events that also includes dressage, eventing, hunters, and equitation. Jumping classes commonly are seen at horse shows throughout the world, including the Olympics...

, dressage
Dressage
Dressage is a competitive equestrian sport, defined by the International Equestrian Federation as "the highest expression of horse training." Competitions are held at all levels from amateur to the World Equestrian Games...

, three-day eventing
Eventing
Eventing is an equestrian event comprising dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. This event has its roots in a comprehensive cavalry test requiring mastery of several types of riding...

, competitive driving
Combined driving
Combined driving also known as Horse Driving Trials is an equestrian sport involving carriage driving. In this discipline the driver sits on a vehicle drawn by a single horse, a pair or a team of four. The sport has three phases: Dressage, Cross-country Marathon and Obstacle Cone Driving and is...

, endurance riding
Endurance riding
Endurance riding is an equestrian sport based on controlled long-distance races. It is one of the international competitions recognized by the FEI. There are endurance rides worldwide....

, gymkhana
Gymkhana (equestrian)
Gymkhana is a term used in the United Kingdom, east coast of the United States, and other English-speaking nations to describe an equestrian event consisting of speed pattern racing and timed games for riders on horses...

, rodeo
Rodeo
Rodeo is a competitive sport which arose out of the working practices of cattle herding in Spain, Mexico, and later the United States, Canada, South America and Australia. It was based on the skills required of the working vaqueros and later, cowboys, in what today is the western United States,...

s, and fox hunting
Fox hunting
Fox hunting is an activity involving the tracking, chase, and sometimes killing of a fox, traditionally a red fox, by trained foxhounds or other scent hounds, and a group of followers led by a master of foxhounds, who follow the hounds on foot or on horseback.Fox hunting originated in its current...

. Horse show
Horse show
A Horse show is a judged exhibition of horses and ponies. Many different horse breeds and equestrian disciplines hold competitions worldwide, from local to the international levels. Most horse shows run from one to three days, sometimes longer for major, all-breed events or national and...

s, which have their origins in medieval European fairs, are held around the world. They host a huge range of classes, covering all of the mounted and harness disciplines, as well as "In-hand"
Halter (horse show)
"Halter" is a term used to describe a type of horse show class where horses are shown "in hand," meaning that they are led, not ridden, and are judged on their conformation and suitability as breeding stock...

 classes where the horses are led, rather than ridden, to be evaluated on their conformation. The method of judging varies with the discipline, but winning usually depends on style and ability of both horse and rider.
Sports such as polo
Polo
Polo is a team sport played on horseback in which the objective is to score goals against an opposing team. Sometimes called, "The Sport of Kings", it was highly popularized by the British. Players score by driving a small white plastic or wooden ball into the opposing team's goal using a...

 do not judge the horse itself, but rather use the horse as a partner for human competitors as a necessary part of the game. Although the horse requires specialized training to participate, the details of its performance are not judged, only the result of the rider's actions—be it getting a ball through a goal or some other task. Examples of these sports of partnership between human and horse include jousting
Jousting
Jousting is a martial game or hastilude between two knights mounted on horses and using lances, often as part of a tournament.Jousting emerged in the High Middle Ages based on the military use of the lance by heavy cavalry. The first camels tournament was staged in 1066, but jousting itself did not...

, in which the main goal is for one rider to unseat the other, and buzkashi
Buzkashi
Buzkashi or Kok-boru or Oglak Tartis or Ulak Tartysh is a traditional Central Asian...

, a team game played throughout Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

, the aim being to capture a goat carcass while on horseback.

Horse racing
Horse racing
Horse racing is an equestrian sport that has a long history. Archaeological records indicate that horse racing occurred in ancient Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. Both chariot and mounted horse racing were events in the ancient Greek Olympics by 648 BC...

 is an equestrian sport and major international industry, watched in almost every nation of the world. There are three types: "flat" racing; steeplechasing
Steeplechase
Steeplechase may refer to:* Steeplechase, an event in horse racing* SteepleChase, a Danish jazz label* Steeplechase , a 1975 arcade game released by Atari...

, i.e. racing over jumps; and harness racing
Harness racing
Harness racing is a form of horse racing in which the horses race at a specific gait . They usually pull a two-wheeled cart called a sulky, although racing under saddle is also conducted in Europe.-Breeds:...

, where horses trot or pace while pulling a driver in a small, light cart known as a sulky
Sulky
A sulky is a lightweight cart having two wheels and a seat for the driver only but usually without a body, generally pulled by horses or dogs, and is used for harness races...

. A major part of horse racing's economic importance lies in the gambling associated with it.

Work



There are certain jobs that horses do very well, and no technology has yet developed to fully replace them. For example, mounted police
Mounted police
Mounted police are police who patrol on horseback or camelback. They continue to serve in remote areas and in metropolitan areas where their day-to-day function may be picturesque or ceremonial, but they are also employed in crowd control because of their mobile mass and height advantage and...

 horses are still effective for certain types of patrol duties and crowd control. Cattle ranch
Ranch
A ranch is an area of landscape, including various structures, given primarily to the practice of ranching, the practice of raising grazing livestock such as cattle or sheep for meat or wool. The word most often applies to livestock-raising operations in the western United States and Canada, though...

es still require riders on horseback to round up cattle that are scattered across remote, rugged terrain. Search and rescue
Search and rescue
Search and rescue is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger.The general field of search and rescue includes many specialty sub-fields, mostly based upon terrain considerations...

 organizations in some countries depend upon mounted
Mounted search and rescue
Mounted search and rescue is a specialty within search and rescue , using horses as search partners and for transportation to search for missing persons. SAR responders on horseback are primarily a search resource, but also can provide off-road logistics support and transportation...

 teams to locate people, particularly hikers and children, and to provide disaster relief assistance. Horses can also be used in areas where it is necessary to avoid vehicular disruption to delicate soil, such as nature reserves. They may also be the only form of transport allowed in wilderness areas. Horses are quieter than motorized vehicles. Law enforcement officers such as park ranger
Park ranger
A park ranger or forest ranger is a person entrusted with protecting and preserving parklands – national, state, provincial, or local parks. Different countries use different names for the position. Ranger is the favored term in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Within the United...

s or game warden
Game warden
A game warden is an employee who has the role of protecting wildlife. Game wardens may also be referred to as conservation officers or wildlife officers...

s may use horses for patrols, and horses or mules may also be used for clearing trails or other work in areas of rough terrain where vehicles are less effective.

Although machinery has replaced horses in many parts of the world, an estimated 100 million horses, donkeys and mules are still used for agriculture and transportation in less developed areas. This number includes around 27 million working in Africa alone. Some land management practices such as cultivating and logging can be efficiently performed with horses. In agriculture, less fossil fuel is used and increased environmental conservation occurs over time with the use of draft animals
Working animal
A working animal is an animal, usually domesticated, that is kept by humans and trained to perform tasks. They may be close members of the family, such as guide or service dogs, or they may be animals trained strictly to perform a job, such as logging elephants. They may also be used for milk, a...

 such as horses. Logging with horses can result in reduced damage to soil structure and less damage to trees due to more selective logging.

Entertainment and culture



Modern horses are often used to reenact many of their historical work purposes. Horses are used, complete with equipment that is authentic or a meticulously recreated replica, in various live action historical reenactment
Historical reenactment
Historical reenactment is an educational activity in which participants attempt torecreate some aspects of a historical event or period. This may be as narrow as a specific moment from a battle, such as the reenactment of Pickett's Charge at the Great Reunion of 1913, or as broad as an entire...

s of specific periods of history, especially recreations of famous battles. Horses are also used to preserve cultural traditions and for ceremonial purposes. Countries such as the United Kingdom still use horse-drawn carriages to convey royalty and other VIPs to and from certain culturally significant events. Public exhibitions are another example, such as the Budweiser Clydesdales
Budweiser Clydesdales
The Budweiser Clydesdales are a group of Clydesdale horses used for promotions and commercials by the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company. There are six "hitches" or teams of horses, five that travel around the United States and one that remains in their official home at the company headquarters at the...

, seen in parades and other public settings, a team of draft horse
Draft horse
A draft horse , draught horse or dray horse , less often called a work horse or heavy horse, is a large horse bred for hard, heavy tasks such as ploughing and farm labour...

s that pull a beer wagon similar to that used before the invention of the modern motorized truck.

Horses are frequently seen in television and films. They are sometimes featured as a major character in films about particular animals, but also used as visual elements that assure the accuracy of historical stories. Both live horses and iconic
Secular icon
A secular icon is an image or pictograph of a person or thing used for other than religious purpose. -Icons versus symbols:...

 images of horses are used in advertising
Advertising
Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common...

 to promote a variety of products. The horse frequently appears in coats of arms in heraldry
Heraldry
Heraldry is the profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol, as exercised by an officer of arms. Heraldry comes from Anglo-Norman herald, from the Germanic compound harja-waldaz, "army commander"...

. The horse can be represented as standing, walking (passant), trotting, running (courant), rearing
Rear (horse)
Rearing occurs when a horse or other equid "stands up" on its hind legs with the forelegs off the ground. Rearing may be linked to fright, aggression, excitement, disobedience, or pain. It is not uncommon to see stallions rearing in the wild when they fight, while striking at their opponent with...

 (rampant or forcine) or springing (salient). The horse may be saddled and bridled, harnessed, or without any apparel whatsoever. The horse also appears in the 12-year cycle of animals in the Chinese zodiac
Chinese astrology
Chinese astrology is based on the traditional astronomy and calendars. The development of Chinese astrology is tied to that of astronomy, which came to flourish during the Han Dynasty ....

 related to the Chinese calendar
Chinese calendar
The Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar, incorporating elements of a lunar calendar with those of a solar calendar. It is not exclusive to China, but followed by many other Asian cultures as well...

. According to Chinese folklore
Chinese folklore
Chinese folklore includes songs, dances, puppetry, and tales. It often tells stories of human nature, historical or legendary events, love, and the supernatural, or stories explaining natural phenomena and distinctive landmarks.-Folktales:...

, each animal is associated with certain personality traits, and those born in the year of the horse
Horse (zodiac)
The Horse is the seventh of the 12 animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. The Year of the Horse is associated with the earthly branch symbol 午.- Years and the Five Elements :...

 are intelligent, independent, and free-spirited.

Therapeutic use



People of all ages with physical and mental disabilities obtain beneficial results from association with horses. Therapeutic riding is used to mentally and physically stimulate disabled persons and help them improve their lives through improved balance and coordination, increased self-confidence, and a greater feeling of freedom and independence. The benefits of equestrian activity for people with disabilities has also been recognized with the addition of equestrian events to the Paralympic Games
Paralympic Games
The Paralympic Games are a major international multi-sport event where athletes with a physical disability compete; this includes athletes with mobility disabilities, amputations, blindness, and Cerebral Palsy. There are Winter and Summer Paralympic Games, which are held immediately following their...

 and recognition of para-equestrian events by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports
International Federation for Equestrian Sports
The Fédération Équestre Internationale or in English, the International Federation for Equestrian Sports, is the international governing body of equestrian sports. It recognizes ten international disciplines...

 (FEI). Hippotherapy
Hippotherapy
Hippotherapy is a form of physical, occupational and speech therapy in which a therapist uses the characteristic movements of a horse to provide carefully graded motor and sensory input. A foundation is established to improve neurological function and sensory processing, which can be generalized to...

 and therapeutic horseback riding
Therapeutic horseback riding
Therapeutic horseback riding is used to teach riding skills to people with disabilities...

 are names for different physical, occupational, and speech therapy treatment strategies that utilize equine movement. In hippotherapy, a therapist uses the horse's movement to improve their patient's cognitive, coordination, balance, and fine motor skills, whereas therapeutic horseback riding uses specific riding skills.

Horses also provide psychological benefits to people whether they actually ride or not. "Equine-assisted" or "equine-facilitated" therapy is a form of experiential psychotherapy
Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is a general term referring to any form of therapeutic interaction or treatment contracted between a trained professional and a client or patient; family, couple or group...

 that uses horses as companion animals to assist people with mental illness, including anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, mood disorders, behavioral difficulties, and those who are going through major life changes. There are also experimental programs using horses in prison
Prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

 settings. Exposure to horses appears to improve the behavior of inmates and help reduce recidivism
Recidivism
Recidivism is the act of a person repeating an undesirable behavior after they have either experienced negative consequences of that behavior, or have been treated or trained to extinguish that behavior...

 when they leave.

Warfare


Horses in warfare
Horses in warfare
The first use of horses in warfare occurred over 5,000 years ago. The earliest evidence of horses ridden in warfare dates from Eurasia between 4000 and 3000 BC. A Sumerian illustration of warfare from 2500 BC depicts some type of equine pulling wagons...

 have been seen for most of recorded history. The first archaeological evidence of horses used in warfare dates to between 4000 to 3000 BC, and the use of horses in warfare was widespread by the end of the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

. Although mechanization has largely replaced the horse as a weapon of war, horses are still seen today in limited military uses, mostly for ceremonial purposes, or for reconnaissance and transport activities in areas of rough terrain where motorized vehicles are ineffective. Horses have been used in the 21st century by the Janjaweed
Janjaweed
The Janjaweed is a blanket term used to describe mostly gunmen in Darfur, western Sudan, and now eastern Chad...

 militias in the War in Darfur
War in Darfur
The Darfur Conflict was a guerrilla conflict or civil war centered on the Darfur region of Sudan. It began in February 2003 when the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army and Justice and Equality Movement groups in Darfur took up arms, accusing the Sudanese government of oppressing non-Arab Sudanese in...

.

Products


Horses are raw material for many products made by humans throughout history, including byproducts from the slaughter of horses as well as materials collected from living horses.

Products collected from living horses include mare's milk, used by people with large horse herds, such as the Mongols
Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

, who let it ferment to produce kumis
Kumis
Kumis, also spelled kumiss or koumiss in English is a fermented dairy product traditionally made from mare's milk. The drink remains important to the peoples of the Central Asian steppes, of Turkic and Mongol origin: Bashkirs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Yakuts, Mongols and Kalmyks...

. Horse blood was once used as food by the Mongols and other nomad
Nomad
Nomadic people , commonly known as itinerants in modern-day contexts, are communities of people who move from one place to another, rather than settling permanently in one location. There are an estimated 30-40 million nomads in the world. Many cultures have traditionally been nomadic, but...

ic tribes, who found it a convenient source of nutrition when traveling. Drinking their own horses' blood allowed the Mongols to ride for extended periods of time without stopping to eat. The drug Premarin
Premarin
Premarin is the commercial name for a compound cream of vaginally administered estrogens, consisting primarily of conjugated estrogens. Isolated from mares' urine , it is manufactured by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and has been marketed since 1942...

 is a mixture of estrogen
Estrogen
Estrogens , oestrogens , or œstrogens, are a group of compounds named for their importance in the estrous cycle of humans and other animals. They are the primary female sex hormones. Natural estrogens are steroid hormones, while some synthetic ones are non-steroidal...

s extracted from the urine of pregnant mares (pregnant mares' urine), and was previously a widely used drug for hormone replacement therapy
Hormone replacement therapy (menopause)
Hormone replacement therapy is a system of medical treatment for surgically menopausal, perimenopausal and to a lesser extent postmenopausal women...

. The tail hair of horses can be used for making bows
Bow (music)
In music, a bow is moved across some part of a musical instrument, causing vibration which the instrument emits as sound. The vast majority of bows are used with string instruments, although some bows are used with musical saws and other bowed idiophones....

 for string instrument
String instrument
A string instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. In the Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification, used in organology, they are called chordophones...

s such as the violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

, viola
Viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

, cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

, and double bass
Double bass
The double bass, also called the string bass, upright bass, standup bass or contrabass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra, with strings usually tuned to E1, A1, D2 and G2...

.

Horse meat
Horse meat
Horse meat is the culinary name for meat cut from a horse. It is a major meat in only a few countries, notably in Central Asia, but it forms a significant part of the culinary traditions of many others, from Europe to South America to Asia. The top eight countries consume about 4.7 million horses...

 has been used as food for humans and carnivorous animals
Carnivore
A carnivore meaning 'meat eater' is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of animal tissue, whether through predation or scavenging...

 throughout the ages. It is eaten in many parts of the world, though consumption is taboo
Taboo
A taboo is a strong social prohibition relating to any area of human activity or social custom that is sacred and or forbidden based on moral judgment, religious beliefs and or scientific consensus. Breaking the taboo is usually considered objectionable or abhorrent by society...

 in some cultures, and a subject of political controversy in others. Horsehide leather has been used for boots, gloves, jackets
A-2 jacket
The Type A-2 leather flight jacket is a military flight jacket closely associated with World War II U.S. Army Air Forces pilots, navigators and bombardiers, who often decorated their jackets with squadron patches and elaborate artwork painted on the back...

, baseballs, and baseball gloves. Horse hooves can also be used to produce animal glue
Animal glue
An animal glue is an adhesive that is created by prolonged boiling of animal connective tissue.These protein colloid glues are formed through hydrolysis of the collagen from skins, bones, tendons, and other tissues, similar to gelatin. The word "collagen" itself derives from Greek κόλλα kolla, glue...

. Horse bones can be used to make implements. Specifically, in Italian cuisine, the horse tibia
Tibia
The tibia , shinbone, or shankbone is the larger and stronger of the two bones in the leg below the knee in vertebrates , and connects the knee with the ankle bones....

 is sharpened into a probe called a spinto, which is used to test the readiness of a (pig) ham as it cures. In Asia, the saba is a horsehide vessel used in the production of kumis.

Care


Horses are grazing
Grazing
Grazing generally describes a type of feeding, in which a herbivore feeds on plants , and also on other multicellular autotrophs...

 animals, and their major source of nutrients is good-quality forage
Forage
Forage is plant material eaten by grazing livestock.Historically the term forage has meant only plants eaten by the animals directly as pasture, crop residue, or immature cereal crops, but it is also used more loosely to include similar plants cut for fodder and carried to the animals, especially...

 from hay
Hay
Hay is grass, legumes or other herbaceous plants that have been cut, dried, and stored for use as animal fodder, particularly for grazing livestock such as cattle, horses, goats, and sheep. Hay is also fed to pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs...

 or pasture. They can consume approximately 2% to 2.5% of their body weight in dry feed each day. Therefore, a 450 kilograms (992.1 lb) adult horse could eat up to 11 kilograms (24.3 lb) of food. Sometimes, concentrated feed such as grain
Cereal
Cereals are grasses cultivated for the edible components of their grain , composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran...

 is fed in addition to pasture or hay, especially when the animal is very active. When grain is fed, equine nutritionists recommend that 50% or more of the animal's diet by weight should still be forage.

Horses require a plentiful supply of clean water, a minimum of 10 gallons (37.9 l) to 12 gallons (45.4 l) per day. Although horses are adapted to live outside, they require shelter from the wind and precipitation
Precipitation (meteorology)
In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation (also known as one of the classes of hydrometeors, which are atmospheric water phenomena is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation...

, which can range from a simple shed or shelter to an elaborate stable
Stable
A stable is a building in which livestock, especially horses, are kept. It most commonly means a building that is divided into separate stalls for individual animals...

.

Horses require routine hoof
Horse hoof
A horse hoof is a structure surrounding the distal phalanx of the 3rd digit of each of the four limbs of Equus species, which is covered by complex soft tissue and keratinised structures...

 care from a farrier
Farrier
A farrier is a specialist in equine hoof care, including the trimming and balancing of horses' hooves and the placing of shoes on their hooves...

, as well as vaccination
Vaccination
Vaccination is the administration of antigenic material to stimulate the immune system of an individual to develop adaptive immunity to a disease. Vaccines can prevent or ameliorate the effects of infection by many pathogens...

s to protect against various diseases, and dental
Horse teeth
Horses' teeth are often used to estimate the animal's age, hence the sayings "long in the tooth", "straight from the horse's mouth" and "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth".- Types of teeth :At five years of age a horse has between 36 and 44 teeth...

 examinations from a veterinarian
Veterinarian
A veterinary physician, colloquially called a vet, shortened from veterinarian or veterinary surgeon , is a professional who treats disease, disorder and injury in animals....

 or a specialized equine dentist. If horses are kept inside in a barn, they require regular daily exercise for their physical health and mental well-being. When turned outside, they require well-maintained, sturdy fences
Agricultural fencing
In agriculture, fences are used to keep animals in or out of an area. They can be made from a wide variety of materials, depending on terrain, location and animals to be confined...

 to be safely contained. Regular grooming
Horse grooming
Horse grooming is hygienic care given to a horse, or a process by which the horse's physical appearance is enhanced for horse shows or other types of competition.-Reasons for grooming:...

is also helpful to help the horse maintain good health of the hair coat and underlying skin.

Sources