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Monday, 27 July 2015

Horse

HISTORY

Even in prehistoric times, hunters scratched pictures of horses on the walls of caves. These drawings, some of which date back to about 18,000 BC, vividly depict in simple lines the animation and action of the animals.

The breeding of horses was practised in Central Asia as early as the fifth pre-Christian millennium.

The horse had almost joined the woolly mammoth and the T. Rex on the list of extinct species when man first domesticated it in around 4000BC.

The Sumerians used the onager, a type of horse to pull wheeled carts.

In Asia Minor, archaeologists discovered Hittite cuneiform clay tablets from the fourteenth century BC with elaborate instructions for an entire course of horse training. The earliest known work devoted exclusively to the care, feeding, and training of horses, it was written by a Mitanni horseman hired by a Hittite king.

By the 1500s BC, the Egyptians used horse-drawn vehicles, but few Egyptians rode horses.

The ancient Egyptians decorated their tombs with spindle-legged stylized horses. Those shown on tombs were often many times larger than life size.

The Scythians of the Russian central steppes were a nomadic people to whom the horse was very important to their lives. In their burial mounds warriors were buried in their riding outfits with their trusted animals.

When Greek traders first saw these mounted Scythian men in the Black Sea region, they believed them to be a strange animal, half horse and half man. The Greeks called them centaurs and developed many fables about these unusual beasts.

The Assyrians and Babylonians were expert horsemen and made good use of the animal in hunting. A stone carving from Nimrod's palace at Nineveh, shows the king sitting secure on his galloping horse and, notwithstanding its tremendous speed, shooting an arrow at the prey. Mounted servants are seen following him, carrying a supply of spare arrows and his lance.

For social and military reasons, the horse was of immense importance in early Ireland. Its introduction to Ireland was credited to the mighty Celtic god Lugh.

The word "canter" entered into the English language from the pace of the horses heading for Canterbury in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. People mockingly called their leisurely progress "the Canterbury pace." Eventually, they dropped most of the phrase and retained only half of Canterbury.

European explorers brought horses to the New World--the first in the Americas since the native horses had died out about 8,500 years before. The Spanish had royal horse farms operating in Jamaica by 1515, and Francisco Pizarro obtained horses from these farms for his expeditions to Peru.

A great number of the horses (the majority were Arabians) that the Spaniards brought to the New World managed to escape. Roaming the country, they bred and multiplied, to be joined by other horses that had escaped from French settlers in the north. Together they established the wild American breeds.

A quarter of the horses in the US died of a vast virus epidemic in 1872.

By the middle of the 20th century, machines were performing many of the jobs that horses had done, and the population of horses--especially in Europe and North America--dropped drastically. In 1915 there were more than 21 million horses in the United States, but by 1955 their number had dropped to only a little more than 3 million.

In 2004, Congress designated December 13th as National Day of the Horse.

The world's horse population is estimated at 75,000,000.

ANATOMY

The horse genome contains 2.7 billion DNA base pairs, and horses have over 90 hereditary diseases similar to those found in humans.


An individual horse puts out 14.9 horsepower.

Horses expend more energy lying down that they do standing up.

Horses can lock their knee and elbow joints to enable them to stand (and sleep) without using their muscles.

Horses have bigger eyes than any other mammal that lives on land.

A horse can look forward with one eye and backwards with the other.

Horses have nearly 360 degree vision.

Horses can't vomit.

An unborn horse has a rubbery covering over its hooves to protect its mother from being harmed during gestation and birth. They fall off almost immediately as the foal tries to stand.

A horse's hoof is technically a single toe, so horses run on their toes.

Icelandic horses have a unique gait called tölt in which one foot is on the ground at all times.

The phrase "Long in the tooth," meaning "old" was originally used to describe horses. As horses age, their gums recede, giving the impression that their teeth are growing. The longer the teeth look, the older the horse.

HORSE BEHAVIOR

When a horse is expressing a positive emotion, it whinnies at a low frequency. When it's upset or excited, it whinnies at a high frequency.

RECORDS

Big Jake is the tallest living horse. A Belgian draft horse, he stands at 210.19cm (just over 6ft 10in). and lives on a farm in Wisconsin, America. Big Jake eats 40 quarts of oats and one-and-a-half bales of hay a day.

FUN HORSE FACTS

A male horse is called a stallion and a female horse is a mare. A male horse which has been castrated is known as a gelding.

Hippophobia is the fear of horses.

The Przewalski's horse is the only true wild horse living in the world today.

There are more horses in the USA than any other country but Mongolia has most horses per head of population.


There are about 9.2 million horses in the United States and 4.6 million Americans are involved in the horse business.

Sources Europress Encyclopedia,  Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc

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