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What Are Some Interesting Horse Facts?

This page is bursting with interesting facts and trivia about horses.



Below you can find all kinds of interesting facts about equine vision, height, teeth, splint bones, and even horse birthdays!


Horse Vision

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

Image indicating where this horse is looking

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.

A horse's face along with by facts about horse vision


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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's 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.

A horse hoof

Horse Facts: Height


Flehmen Response

The Flehmen response is a posture sometimes exhibited by certain mammals, including horses, when they encounter an interesting or stimulating scent.

The Flehmen response is characterized by a raised, extended neck and head, along with a raising and curling of the upper lip, usually exposing some upper teeth.

For more information about the Flehmen response in horses, please see this page: What Is The Flehmen Response?

Below: A mare showing the flehmen response.

A horse exhibiting the flehmen response


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.

The coronary band of a horse


A cowhide purse

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A beautiful cowhide purse / From Etsy


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.

A horse skull showing the teeth

Below: The interdental space.

Interdental space in a horse

Below: 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.

A horse's chestnut accompanied by chestnut facts and trivia


Inside A Horse


A custom horse cutting board

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Custom made horse cutting board / From Etsy


Ermine Spots, aka Ermine Marks

Ermine spots (also known as "ermine marks") are black or dark spots that appear in white markings just above the hoof. For more information about ermine spots, you can see this page: What Are Ermine Spots?

Below: A horse with ermine spots, or ermine marks.

Ermine spots on a horse


Horse Records


Mares Have Halves

A mare is a female horse. Externally, her udder is made up of two halves, or sides, each with its own teat.

In comparison, cow udders are made up of four quarters (each with its own teat), not two halves.

Below: A mare's udder showing two teats.

A mare's udder showing it has two halves

 

Below: A cow's udder showing four teats.

A cow's udder


Mules and Hinnies

Below: A mule.

A mule


Speaking of Donkeys...

In the information above we mentioned that a mule was a cross between a male donkey and a female horse; and that a hinney was the cross between a male horse and a female donkey. Which brings us to...donkeys.

A donkey is a relative of the horse. A donkey's scientific classification is Equus africanus asinus while a horse is Equus ferus caballus. A donkey can also properly be called an "ass."

And then there are burros, which look a lot like donkeys. That's because a burro and a donkey are the same thing. A donkey and a burro are both classified as Equus africanus asinus which means they are one and the same.

However, it's not uncommon for regional or cultural differences to use the words differently. For example, some people say "burro" when they're talking about a small donkey. And some people say "donkey" when they're talking about a domesticated individual or group, but say "burro" when referring to their feral ("wild") counterparts.

Below: A donkey, or burro.

A burro, or donkey


Lips and Nostrils

Below: A horse's upper lip and nostrils. 

A horse's prehensile lip


Nasolacrimal Ducts

The "nasolacrimal duct" is a tear duct that drains tears from the corner of a horse's eye, down the nose through the 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

In some cases the nasolacrimal duct can become damaged or blocked. In unusual cases, a horse is sometimes born without an opening for the nasolacrimal duct in the nostril. In these cases symptoms commonly include excessive tearing in the corner of the eye. For more information, you can see this page: What Is The Nasolacrimal Duct In Horses?


Happy Birthday!

All horses, regardless of when they were actually born, are considered to have a common birthday. In the Northern Hemisphere they celebrate a common birthday on January 1; in the Southern Hemisphere the common birthday is August 1. This is one of the reasons most horsemen don't like their foals to be born just before those dates: Even if a foal is born only the day before he or she will have their first birthday the very next day.


More

Scientists believe that the first known ancestor of the horse lived about 50 million years ago. This prehistoric horse is called Eohippus and had four padded toes on the front legs and three padded toes on the back legs. Eo means "dawn" and hippus means "horse," so Eohippus is "dawn horse."


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 below 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 right after it separates from the cannon, but when the splint has "set" or healed it is completely pain free and is not a health or soundness concern.

A horse's front leg showing the splint bone


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, which is a cross between a zebra and a pony



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