Do you love horses? In chapter 13, Mo and Finchy help a group of farm animals make the best apple pie in the world. A horse is among this group of animals that they meet.
Have you ever cared for a horse, seen one up close, or perhaps ridden one? Some people find them scary because they’re so big. The largest horse ever was named Sampson (and later called Mammoth). He stood over seven feet tall and weighed more than 3,300 pounds! But horses can also be tiny. The smallest dwarf horse stood 17.5 inches tall.
Archeologists (scientists who study human history by digging up human remains and artifacts) believe the earliest ancestor of the horse lived sometime around 55 million years ago and was the size of a large dog, like a Labrador retriever. Evidence suggests that people started using horses for transportation or to help with work chores as far back as 6,000 (or more) years ago.
Horses are beautiful and amazing animals. Did you know they can sleep both lying down and standing up? They have a special locking system in their legs that allows them to rest without falling over and still conserve energy. However, they do lay down for short periods of time for a deeper sleep.
Here are 7 more facts about horses that you may find interesting:
- Horses can only breathe through their noses, not through their mouths as humans can.
- Because their eyes are on the side of their head, horses almost have a 360-degree field of vision. They can’t see behind them nor just in front of them and below their noses. This means that they can’t see the grass they are grazing on or even the carrot you’re placing in front of them. In such cases, they use their mobile and sensitive lips, whiskers, and sense of smell to know what is in front of them and then decide if they want to eat it. They can also move their eyes separately and focus on two different things at one time.
- They’re very social animals and form strong, social relationships with each other. They use their senses to recognize (horse) friends and spend time with them. In the wild, they find safety in a herd. One horse stands guard to watch for predators while the others in the herd eat, rest, and sleep.
- Horses are very intelligent and intuitive. They are taught to perform many different tasks, just like dogs, through training and positive reinforcement. In one study, the horses touched symbols on a board to communicate to their caretaker whether they wanted a blanket on or off. Some believe they’re at least four times faster learners than humans. One vet, for example, believes the horses she treats can tell the difference between when she’s touching them as a friend or to examine them.
- Horses have a unique ability to read people or understand and interpret human emotions. You can’t lie to a horse! They sense your true feelings. Some police officers in big cities use horses in their daily work and believe they would be great at interrogating people for crimes.
- Horses have bigger eyes than any other land mammal. What many people don’t know is that they also have a third eyelid on the inside of their eye that closes diagonally over it for added protection.
- The fastest horse ever recorded was clocked at 55 MPH (miles per hour) during a race in 2005. That’s the speed limit on some US highways!
The average horse lives between 25 and 30 years and weighs about 1,000 pounds, which is half a ton or about the same weight as a small car. Yet the oldest horse on record lived to be 62 years old. That’s about 162 years old in human years!
Horses live all over the world, on every continent, except for Antarctica. The US has the most horses (around 3.8 million) followed by Mexico and China. The most expensive horse sold in 2000 for $70 million to a farm in Ireland that breeds and races thoroughbred racehorses.
Now for some fun facts:
- In Wilbur, Washington, you can be fined if you ride an “ugly horse”.
- How long was the longest tail ever recorded on a horse? Take a guess… According to the Guinness Book of Records, a mare (adult female horse) named JJS Summer Breeze in Kansas had a tail that measured 12 feet, 6 inches, back in 2007.
- Like to laugh? Check out this website that shares horse jokes.
Does your family own a horse? If so, tell us in your own words what makes your horse so special! We’ll post it along with a photo of the horse on Mo’s social media pages as well as your first name, age and state where you live.