The horse has become a loyal friend and helper of man since ancient times. Endurance, grace and beauty make this animal indispensable on the battlefield, traveling, hunting and in agriculture, in sports. The progenitor of the modern horse, scientists believe Eogippus - an animal that weighed just over 5 kg and lived on earth more than a few tens of millions of years ago.
Throughout the history of human development, the horse was a faithful friend and indispensable helper, a rich man’s pride and breadwinner for the poor. Most often the horse was used for riding. Archaeologists find confirmation that our ancestors portrayed horsemen as early as three thousand years BC.
On average, horses live for about 30 years, but there are some unique individuals that can live twice as long. Thus, it is a fact that the horse born in Great Britain, nicknamed “Billy,” died at the age of 62 years. It is believed that the years of a horse’s life can be compared with periods of a person’s life. For example, 12 years of a person’s life are equal to the first year of a horse’s life. The next 7 years are equal to the second year of the horse. With this calculation, the long-liver Billy lived more than 173 human years. Experts determine the age of the horse according to the state of the animal's teeth.
These unique animals, like people, have not only developed feelings: scent, taste, hearing, touch and sight, but also a strong intuition that allows you to protect yourself from danger and protect your master at the right time. Very interesting is the structure of the horse's eye. They allow the animal to embrace the panorama and see objects in color. It has been proven that horses see color dreams. Another interesting feature is the horse's hooves. With pressure on them, the blood rises upward through the vessels, thereby facilitating the circulation of the venous blood of the animal.
Throughout the ages, a lot of legends, interesting facts and historical events have been associated with the horse. The closest and inseparable friend of man - the horse is sung in many works of art. Writers, painters, sculptors portrayed this amazing animal in their works. Horses were given royal honors, for example, the legendary Bucephalus, buried as a royal person, and the horse of Emperor Caligula was appointed Roman senator.
In many countries, there are laws and customs directly related to horses. For example, in the African Masai tribe, a man who killed a horse goes to heaven, and in the US state of Utah, an unmarried woman is forbidden to ride a horse on Sunday. Some nations consider the horse a sacred animal.
Equestrian sport, especially horse riding, have a healing effect for people with problems of the musculoskeletal system, improves posture, burns calories well. Scientists have proven that communication with these noble animals strengthens the nervous system, has a beneficial effect on the entire human body.
For many years, by crossing different species, more than 160 species of horse breeds were bred. Distinguish riding, poglovye, sledding and other horse breeds. Of course, the Arabian horses, by right, are considered the most purebred and unique breed.
How old are the horses?
The story of interesting facts about horses is logical to start with this question. According to archaeological data, a horse is much older than a man. It is believed that the ancestor of modern solids was the so-called gyracotherium - a mammal that lived on our planet about 50 million years ago. It had a size of 60 cm in length and 20 cm in height, that is, in its parameters did not exceed the modern fox.
When was this animal domesticated? Many historians agree that the first to tame a horse were Mongol tribes. It happened about 5,000 years ago. Nevertheless, one should not say so categorically: firstly, there is no consensus on where the modern horse originates from, since their ancient remains are found in Europe, America and Asia, and secondly, in some ancient caves that have rock carvings. drawings of ancient people depicted these solitary, while the drawings are dated 15 000 years BC.
Water is a substance animals cannot live without.
We now turn to the question of the vital need for water for this mammal. No animal can exist without this liquid, but for horses it is of fundamental importance.
How many liters of water does a person need to drink per day? About 2-3 liters. And what is the number for horses? At least 10 times more! According to statistics, these solids drink from 25 to 55 liters per day. At the same time, they receive some of the water from various feeds (60–70% of grass, 10–12% of hay).
Another interesting fact about horses is briefly noted. To find out that your horse needs fluid in his body, it is enough to put a fold on his skin with two fingers, in which case it will not straighten quickly when you release it.
Eye and vision features
One of the amazing facts about horses is that they have the largest eyes among terrestrial mammals. If we take all animals known to people, then the horse's eyes in the category “The Biggest” will take the 4th line after the whale, seal and ostrich.
Due to the location of the eyes on both sides of the head, these animals have two types of vision: monocular and binocular. The first of them (monocular) provides "panoramic", the horse sees almost 360 o around him (for comparison, we note that for humans this figure is about 120 o). There are only two narrow corners located immediately in front of the animal and behind it, which are called "blind", that is, if the object is in these zones, the horse will not see it. This fact explains why they are known for their ability to kick: in this way, the animal protects itself from the "invisible" danger from behind.
Binocular vision, that is, the situation when the same object sees two eyes at the same time, provides the ability to distinguish the shape and dimensions of the object, or, as they say now, to observe it in 3D. However, the area for binocular vision is just below and in front of the animal.
An interesting fact about horses for children, who often ask their parents about whether these animals can distinguish colors, will be a positive answer. Yes, they distinguish color shades, but not in such a range as is characteristic of man. Scientists have found that horses see yellow, green and shades of gray, but do not distinguish the long-wave part of the spectrum, that is, red. It can be said that the perceived color gamut of a horse is similar to that of a dog.
Listing the facts about horses for children, it is impossible not to mention how fast they can ride. It is difficult to answer this question unequivocally, since many factors must be taken into account. The speed indicators are primarily influenced by the breed of the animal. So, the fastest in the world are English thoroughbreds, which demonstrate speeds up to 70 km / h at equestrian competitions. It should be noted that these values correspond to distances of 400 meters. If we talk about distances of 1-3 miles (up to 6 km), then here speeds fall to 60 km / h and less.
An average horse can sustain enough speed up to 44 km / h. If we talk about movements over such distances as 40-160 km, the animal overcomes them at a speed of about 27 km / h.
Considering world records, it should be noted a thoroughbred horse named Winning Brew, who in 2008 at a distance of 1/4 mile (about 400 m) showed an average speed of 70.76 km / h, while in some areas it accelerated to 80 km / h .
Considering the facts about horses and equestrian sports, one cannot but mention the legendary Secretariat. The horse with this nickname was considered and is considered the fastest in the world. He was born in 1970 in the USA (Virginia) and at the age of 2 he began to win first places in competitions of various levels. Lived this horse for 19 years. Unfortunately, at that time it was not yet customary to register animal speeds at races, however, the Secretariat can rightly be considered the fastest, since its heart weighed 9.8 kg (the heart of an average horse has a weight of 3.8 kg).
Movement immediately after birth
Another surprising fact about horses is that the foal can walk almost immediately after birth and even tries to ride. This can be explained from the point of view of the evolutionary factor, because a horse is a herbivore animal that has many enemies in nature (a bright example is African zebras), so it has to flee from the moment it sees the white light.
It is interesting to note that the size of the foal's legs reaches 90% of that for an adult animal. And his hooves finally get stronger and "ossify" only 9-12 months after birth.
Do horses burp?
Listing short facts about horses, one should pay attention to this question. The answer to it will be negative. The fact is that in these equids, the digestive system is arranged in such a way that food can only flow in one direction: into the stomach and further into the intestine. This is due to the fact that at the base of the stomach the animal has a special valve, which is called cardia.
What does this "invention" of evolution lead to? To the fact that if a horse eats food that is toxic to it, it will inevitably lead to colic, and if it gets further into the intestine, it will cause poisoning of the whole organism. This situation is often the cause of the death of the animal. It is interesting to note that of all the toxic plants, the majority of deaths of these equids are associated with ambrosia.
By the way, if you hear something muttering in the belly of a horse, it means that it is in perfect order.
This part of the animal has 16 different muscles. However, the amazing facts about horses and their ears do not end there. With the help of them, the like-minded person expresses his mood and emotional state. The following main positions of the ears are distinguished:
- They stand and are in constant motion. This is a normal condition.
- Sluggish and fall. In this case, the horse is either tired, or sad for it, or it is ready to submit to someone. Sluggish and weak ears can also mean a painful condition.
- Directed forward. This means that the animal does not trust us, so you need to be vigilant, because it is not known how it will react to the next gesture.
- Directed backwards. This is a clear sign that the horse is afraid of something.
- Literally lie on the back of your head. This is a state of aggression towards anyone.
- One ear is turned forward, the other - back. The animal doubts, so you need to explain it again.
Of course, this fact about horses is certainly interesting to everyone. As in the case of speed, here it is impossible to answer unequivocally. For example, in the wild, a horse does not live longer than 25 years. A pet can live for 30 years or more.
Depending on the type of horse and the type of work that it performs, there are the following categories:
- Traction, or heavy horses. Their weight lies in the range of 700 - 1000 kg, they grow from 1.63 to 1.83 meters. These animals usually live 25-30 years.
- The horses Their weight is in the region of 550 kg, and the growth is 1.42-1.63 meters. This may seem strange to many, but they live less than heavyweights (25 years is the upper limit).
- Pony. These are real long-livers. The average duration is about 40 years. In addition, they have a beautiful mane and tail and have a calm character, that is, they are suitable for teaching children to ride a horse.
The main long-liver is the horse named Old Billy, who was born in 1760 in England and lived for 62 years.
Beautiful and stately stallions lead their story from an unprepossessing ancestor, whose name is Eogippus. This creature, which lived on Earth about 60 million years ago, looked like a hairy dog. Even the animal's hooves were not actually hooves, but were thin legs with toes at the ends. The growth of Eogippus, who inhabited Western European lands, barely reached 1 m. This creature had an arched back, short neck and small head. The animal fed on soft leaves and fruits, because his teeth were completely different from the strong and powerful teeth of modern horses. Therefore, Eogippus did not chew the food they extracted, but rather crushed their jaws.
After 20 million years the climatic conditions on the planet changed, in connection with which the appearance of Eohyppus was transformed. To be more precise, several new and independent species arose at once - mesochippus, parahippus and anchiteria. All these animals were united by the fact that they no longer ate fruit or juicy leaves, because the arrival of cold weather forced them to abandon these rare delicacies and get used to the dry, hard grass. This has led to the development and improvement of the chewing apparatus. The surface of the Earth firmly hardened, in connection with which, the mesocippi, parahippus and anchiteria began to rely mainly on the middle fingers, which ended in hoofs. Creatures also became larger in size - they already reached 1.2 m. Growth.
An ancestor, in the appearance of which you can already find all the signs inherent in modern horses, was hipparion, who lived about 5 million years ago in the era of the Upper Miocene. The remains of this animal were found at once in several areas - this is Europe, and Asia, and even America, where the ancient creatures fell along a narrow isthmus that once connected America and Eurasia in the place of the Bering Strait.
Three-toed species were finally supplanted by single-toed species, the limbs of which ended in keratinized and strong hoofs. Using the foot as a support turned out to be more untenable, because animals could not run fast, so they became prey to ancient predators, in particular, wolves. At the same time, hipparions and their closest descendants, plio-hippuses, learned not only to run with their hoofs, but also to use them for survival — for example, for loosening snow and getting grass. These creatures subsequently settled the planet and left behind a rich offspring in the form of wild forest horses.
At once some interesting facts are connected with the keen hearing of horses. With it, animals can recognize high-frequency sounds (up to 25 kHz) that a person cannot hear - he is able to capture only sounds with a frequency of up to 20 kHz. In turn, low-frequency sounds, such as a deaf rumble, etc., reach the mounts of the horses faster than those of a person. All this is necessary for the animal in order to respond in time to the danger. A horse can also turn each ear separately to the side of the stimulus in order to focus on a particular sound. But if the horse is angry, he starts to hear worse, because its external auditory canal is blocked due to the intense pressing of the ears to the head.
It is known that horses are even connoisseurs of music! Animals like to listen to calm melodies, while loud and heavy compositions cause them to feel anxious and worried.
Hearing is a vital biological feeling, not only for the horse itself, but also for its owner. It is precisely by capturing the intonation of the voice and recognizing the spoken words that the horse reacts to commands given to it or to its own nickname. Even in a dream, this solitary mammal does not cease to move its ears, which indicates the tireless work of the auditory organs!
Using acoustic perception of the world, horses are capable of anticipating natural disasters — earthquakes, landslides, avalanches, rising groundwater, etc. That is far, signals and sounds that are not yet distinguishable to human hearing.
The following interesting fact about horses is related to how they rest and sleep. If you watch a pet during the day, you will notice that from time to time it falls into a state of brief and light half-sleep, which lasts from a few minutes to half an hour. In this case, the horse does not fall on the soft grass, but remains standing on its feet and simply closes its eyes.
There is a scientific explanation for this - the whole thing is that natural instincts and habits are especially strong in horses. Long ago, these mammals simply could not afford to lie down and sleep for several hours, because such short-sightedness could cost them their lives. As a result, the horses learned to doze off on their feet, because in this way they could always jerk off and escape from danger.
Full horse sleep in most cases also takes place on the legs, even though the average weight of an adult is 400 kg! So that it does not give the animal inconvenience and pain, nature has provided his body with the ability to "pinch" the joints. Due to this mechanism, the load exerted by the mass of the body is distributed evenly, and the knee joints are blocked. The horse no longer feels excessive heaviness.
В отдельных случаях, когда скакун чувствует потребность в полноценном сне, а также уверенность в безопасности окружающей обстановки, он ложится на землю и впадает в глубокий сон. Как правило, это происходит тогда, когда животное находятся в компании своих собратьев. Horses are creatures that lead a herd way of life in the wild, so it is important for them to feel the presence of a number of representatives of their own species. An adult individual only needs a few hours of this state to fully replenish its strength. In addition, excessive lying in the prone position is fraught with problems, because after 6 hours the edema of the lungs may occur.
It is interesting! It has been scientifically proven that when lying awake (i.e., in the phases of deep sleep) horses are able to see dreams. This becomes evident from the quiet snort and the involuntary movements that they make with their ears, jaws, hooves imitating running, etc.
Mind and wit
Horses accompanied man throughout history, not only because they served as a means of transportation or help in the economy. Since ancient times, humans have discovered that these equine mammals have the ability to learn and have a lively mind. The annals and chronicles are familiar with the nicknames of many horses, who were indispensable "partners" for their masters - emperors, military leaders, kings, scientists, etc.
Beloved mount Alexander of Macedon, the king of Macedonia from the dynasty of Argeadov, was called Bucephalus. An interesting fact is that, according to legend, at the age of 10 years, the future great ruler became the only person who could tame and ride this incredibly obstinate and wayward horse (at that time, the latter was already 11 years old).
The stallion and his master were together until the moment when Bucefalu turned 30 years old - then, after all the battles and battles that had been fought, the horse fell because of old age and heat. In honor of the faithful horse, which throughout life distinguished the noble disposition and ingenuity, Alexander of Macedon even founded the city and gave him the appropriate name - Bucephalus.
The most interesting thing is that this locality exists in the world today in Pakistan, but today it is called Jalalpur.
Another horse is also known, which corresponded to its owner in everything - it is about Savrasogo, a faithful companion of Subedi. This man was an associate of Temujin-Genghis Khan and one of the greatest Mongol commanders. As contemporaries of the commander recalled, the horse always carried out the orders of its master and understood all the words addressed to it.
A dedicated and brave horse even sacrificed himself when it turned out to be necessary. One day, he and Subedei were bogged down. The commander managed to jump out of the saddle and escape, but the animal forever tightened the swamp.
Several interesting facts are connected with a horse named Clever Hans. This horse, who lived in Germany in the early 20th century, won world fame as one of the smartest and most intelligent animals in history! Its owner was Wilhelm von Austin, a school teacher of mathematics. At that time, the public was especially keen on Darwinian theory, in which animals were represented as creatures clothed with reason. In this regard, von Austin decided to test the intellectual abilities of his horse.
Imagine his surprise when it turned out that Hans really possesses abstract thinking and outstanding natural talents! Wilhelm gave them a complete facet, namely, he developed skills such as the ability to add, subtract, multiply, divide, perform fractions, indicate exact time and dates, and also perceive by ear both individual words and whole utterances. German language. At that time, the level of development of Hans corresponded to the level of development of 14-year-old children.
With his “teacher,” and subsequently the general public, for whom von Austin began to organize free street performances with his ward, Hans communicated by tapping his hoof. In this way he answered the questions posed. In spite of the fact that the answers were not always exclusively correct, in most cases Clever Hans did cope with the task.
At home of Smart Hans, in Germany, scientists are very interested in the phenomenon of this horse and decided to study his intellect more closely. A specially convened commission conducted a series of practical experiments. Hans was asked questions not only by his master, but also by other people. He was blindfolded so that he did not see the questioner and could not receive possible clues from his side. The questions were of a different type - the person himself knew the correct answer to some of them, while only the observers could answer the others.
The final statistics showed that when the master (von Austin, as a rule, was still speaking) knew the correct answer, the horse coped with the task 89% of the time. But if Wilhelm himself was in the dark about the question, Hans coped with the task only in 6% of cases!
This allowed the German psychologist Oscar Pfungst to conclude that in reality the animal did not have unique intelligence, but was able to correctly interpret various expressions of “social communication”. In other words, Clever Hans did not receive any special hints from his master, but over the years of communication and interaction he learned to “read” his behavior, facial expressions, gestures and postures. Tapping out the answer with a hoof, the horse followed the reaction of both its owner and the people around them in order to understand when to stop.
Apparently, Hans was very sensitive to emotional human reactions, such as excitement, tension, relaxation, a sharp look, etc. Although Pfungst released a study exposing the mathematical and linguistic abilities of Clever Hans, he admitted that this horse is still possible and must be considered a phenomenally clever creature! Von Austin himself categorically rejected the results of Pfungst's scientific research and continued to travel around the country with Hans until his death in 1909.
Developed scent and good memory
Both of these qualities are characteristic of horses. Many animals have an excellent scent, but not everyone can boast the ability to smell the water under the ground. This ability is very useful for desert horses.
As for good memory, it should be said that the animal remembers its enemies well and for a long time, as well as the places where it was offended or frightened. Thanks to a developed scent, horses can independently carry a rider along the road they once passed. They can do this even at night.
Statues of famous people on horseback and their significance
I would like to finish the article with a curious fact about horses, or rather, about monuments that are famous commanders and politicians of the past, sitting on horseback. Initially, among the sculptors of such monuments, there was a rule that the position of the animal's feet reflects the cause of the rider's death. So, if two front legs are cut off from the ground, it means that a person died in battle, if only one leg is raised, then the rider died from the wounds he received in battle, if all the legs of the animal are on the ground, then death has come natural reasons.
Currently, this rule is abandoned.