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What Are... Some Horse Facts

We have some fun and interesting facts about horses! Below are facts and information about horse vision, teeth, height, records, horse terms, and more.

Horse Vision

Below: The areas with a #1 shows where a horse has monocular vision. The area with a #2 shows where a horse has binocular vision.

Horse facts: Vision

Below: This horse is looking forward with his right eye, and back with his left eye.

Horse facts: Eyesight


A Horse Is A Horse When...


A Horse Has A Frog......Four, Actually

On the underside of a horse's hoof is a triangular shaped area called the "frog." When pushed on the frog has a firm, rubbery feel that yields to pressure. Each time the frog comes into contact with the ground it acts as a shock absorber for a horse's leg, and also helps to pump blood back up the leg.

A healthy, functioning frog that makes good contact with the ground is vital to the hoof and leg health of a horse.

Below: The yellow highlights outline the frog.

A horse frog


Horses Are Ungulates

A horse is an ungulate, which means it is a mammal with hooves. Horses have one hoof at the end of each leg, which makes them odd-toed ungulates. Cattle have two hooves at the end of each leg, which makes them even-toed ungulates.

Below: A horse hoof.

Horse Facts: A horse hoof


Horse Facts: Height


Flehmen Posture

The flehmen posture (also called the flehmen position, the flehmen response, and other similar names) is a posture sometimes exhibited by mammals, including horses, when they encounter an interesting or stimulating scent. The flehmen posture is characterized by a raised, extended neck and head, along with a raising and curling of the upper lip, usually exposing some upper teeth.

While scientists aren't sure why mammals perform the flehmen posture, it seems to be a way for the animal to trap and analyze interesting odors.

Below: A horse exhibiting the flehmen posture.

A horse exhibiting the flehmen posture


Coronary Band

The coronary band (sometimes also called the cornary band or coronet band) is a band of tissue circling a horse's leg just above the hoof. The coronary band is the source from which the hoof wall grows. An injury to the coronary band can sometimes result in irregular hoof growth and/or an unsound hoof wall.

In the photo below you can see that this mare's leg has a scar resulting from a deep cut that extended into the coronary band. In this case, even though the growth of the hoof wall was affected, she was sound for light use.

Below: The blue arrows point to the coronary band circling the hoof.

Horse coronary band


BLM Brand

A BLM brand is a brand placed on an animal by the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It is probably best known as the brand used on BLM horses (aka "mustangs). The brand uses a system known as the "angle system" to create the numbers 0-9 with only two characters.

We have a lot more information on BLM brands, including how to read them, here: What Is The Angle System For Branding.

Below: A BLM brand on a horse.

BLM brand on a horse


Horse Facts: Teeth

Below: There are no wolf teeth on this horse skull. However, the blue arrow is pointing to the approximate location where a wolf tooth would be found.

Horse teeth

Below: The interdental space.

Interdental space in a horse

Above: A horse getting its teeth floated.

A horse getting its teeth floated


Horse Terms


Chestnuts

Horse chestnuts are normal, healthy growths found on most horse's legs. Chestnuts appear on the front legs of a horse above the knee, or on the back legs of a horse below the hock. They can be large or very small. Some people call horse chestnuts "night eyes."

For more information about horse chestnuts, please see our article What Are Horse Chestnuts and Ergots?

Below: A horse chestnut above the knee.

Horse chestnut


Inside A Horse


Ermine Marks

Ermine marks are black or dark spots that appear in white markings just above the hoof.

Below: A horse with ermine marks.

Horse facts: Ermine marks


Horse Records


Mules and Hinnies

Below: A mule.

A mule


Lips and Nostrils

Below: A horse's upper lip and nostrils. 

Horse prehensile lip


Nasolacrimal Ducts

In horses of typical anatomy the "nasolacrimal duct" is a tear duct that drains tears from the corner of the eye, down the tube-like nasolacrimal duct, and out through an opening at the bottom of the nose. This opening is usually visible to the naked eye inside the horse's nostril.

Below: The yellow arrow is pointing to the nasolacrimal duct inside the left nostril of a horse.

Nasolacrimal duct (tear duct) in a horse

If a horse's eye tears excessively the problem may be a nasolacrimal duct that is blocked by debris, inflammation, or scar tissue, or that has been damaged.

Less commonly, a horse may have a congenital condition in which there is not an opening for the nasolacrimal duct in the nostril. These conditions usually result in excessive tearing in the eye since there is nowhere for the tears to drain. Fortunately, these conditions are often easily treatable.

Below is a young mare who was born without an opening in her nostrils for her nasolacrimal ducts (this condition was present on both sides of her face). Surgery was performed to create openings, then a small tube was inserted the entire length of her nasolacrimal ducts to hold the new openings open until they healed. Excess tubing was brought out the top (at the eyes) and bottom (at the nose) of the nasolacrimal ducts then stitched to her face to keep it in place. When the surgically created openings were healed, the tubing was removed.

Nasolacrimal duct after surgery 


More


Splint Bones

A horse's splint bones are thought to be remnants of toes from prehistoric horses. The splint bones are small bones (about the size of a pencil at the top and tapering down to be much smaller) found on each side of the cannon bone.

In the photo to the right the red arrow is pointing to a small bulge that is a splint bone that has "popped." This happens when the splint bone becomes detached from the cannon bone. A splint might become detached due to a nutritional imbalance or trauma. It is usually not a cause for concern. In most cases a popped splint will cause mild pain to the horse but when the splint has "set" or healed it is completely pain free and is not a health or soundness concern.

Horse facts: A front leg


Zebroid

A zebroid is a cross between a zebra and any other member of the family Equidae (which, besides zebras, includes donkeys, ponies, and horses).

Below: A zony.

A zony: A cross between a zebra and a pony


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