The horse is an animal belonging to the family of Equidae and class Mammalia. Horse definition also states it is a large herbivorous domesticated mammal, with a beautiful flowing mane, and solid hoofs. It belongs to the subdivision of species Equus ferus that is subspecies Equus ferus caballus. This subdivision of species caballus is not necessarily wild rather they are free-roaming feral horses.
Horses are used for many purposes by humans, especially to carry the load. In fact, people implement selective breeding methods for the production of horse breeds bigger than the ones naturally bred for doing heavy work. North America is the origin of horses and then spread across Asia and Europe. Horse species were earlier used for wars and battles. And now mostly for racing and riding.
Based on the American Museum of Natural History, Horses have been living for around 50 million years now. Originally in North America and then moved across Asia and Europe. The evolution of the horse breeds has been occurring since 45-50 million years ago, from a multi-toed small animal to a single-toed large animal.
The domestication of the horse species extensively began around 4000 BC but has been around since 3000 BC in Asia according to the Oklahoma State University. About 10,000 years ago, Horses were extinct in their place of origin in North America and were only reintroduced after the colonization of the Europeans.
The first form of use of the Horse species was for warfare, especially in the ancient times when everybody waged wars and the horses were trained for the same. Over the years, they have been used for other purposes like transportation to carry and pull goods, riding, racing, because of their high-speed nature and now even for recreational non-competitive pursuits, entertainment and therapy. Today there are around 400 horse breeds, many selectively bred and each serving a different purpose around the world.
What is the Scientific Name of a Horse?
The scientific name of this species is Equus caballus. This is the domesticated subspecies of the species Equus ferus. This is a name given officially for the purpose of identification of an animal via Binomial Nomenclature. The name Equus is the first name which denotes the family of the animal and the second name is the specificity of the family and often the domestic names are added after as the subspecies, which in this case is caballus.
Equus is the genus, which is derived from the earliest attested variants in Latin wherein Equus means horse and Greek language ‘hippos’ or often referred to as ‘horse’. The trinomial name specifying three distinctive types an animal can be identified is Equus ferus caballus.
About Horse Animal
Referred Terminologies For Horse:- Horses have a distinctive horny part of the foot and hence are also classified as an ungulate animal. The horse species are mammals with hooves, wherein the females called the mares secrete milk to nourish the young ones. The breeds of either sex under age 1 are called Foal and between 2-4 are called Yearling. A foal still in the stage of nursing and dependent on mare’s milk is called suckling. When introduced to other diets, the process referred to as weaning around the time 5-7 months after the birth is called Weanling. Horses under 4, female is called Filly and male is a colt. Mare is referred to the female horse age above 4. The uncastrated 4 and older male is called a stallion. A horse is referred to as Gelding if castrated above 4 years old. A horse is a general term for the Stallion.
Horse’s Characteristics and Features
Due to the variety of 400 horse breeds around the entire world, it is palpable that the Horse characteristics and horse features vary depending on their specific breeds. They can be large, small, heavy or light. Let’s understand the different types of Horses. There are majorly 5 different types of horses.
Horse Habitat and Habits
Horses, especially domesticated ones can live in any climate conditions in any continent when shelter and food are provided, the only exception being Antarctica. Like Budyonny is from Russia, and Deliboz is from Georgia and Armenia, according to Oklahoma State University that shows that Horses are resilient and have excellent endurance to thrive in any part of the world.
Horses are very amicable and social animals who are often found in herds of about 20 of them. Another reason for the travel of horses in herds is also for defense against predators. The herd is usually led by a Stallion and Mares with their young ones following in the herd.
LifeSpan of Horse
Horses live up to 25-30 years usually but there are a few who have lived till later years up to 40s and 50s. Like the recorded verifiable oldest one lived in the 19th century called ‘Old Billy’ who lived till the age of 62. The recorded data in the Guinness World Records show ‘Sugar Puff’ as the oldest pony who died at the age of 56.
Diet of Horse
The horse breeds are herbivores, the ones who roam about in free plains feed on green pastures while the domesticated horses along with grass, hay are also fed with bran which is rolled oats as well as barley. As for supplements of nutrition, the domesticated horses are also given blocks of minerals and blocks of salt to lick. It only eats 1-2 percent of its body weight in roughage and must graze throughout the day.
They have a small stomach so it is easily digested and it is not a complicated process of digestion like the cows with 4 stomachs.
The gestation period that is the time being when Mare is pregnant with the child lasts for about 11 months. This is close to about 340 days and in some cases may also extend up to 370 days. The oestrous cycle in Mare is roughly about 19-22 days and this starts from early spring till autumn. Foals are the young ones of both sexes below a year are called wean, and they depend on their mothers for food and nourishment till about 4-6 months. After the weaning period ends they slowly start taking the diet from an outside source like grass and hay. Soon after their birth foals are able to walk on their own.
After 18 months of their birth, the females have developed reproductive organs and are capable of reproduction but are not allowed to till the age of 4. After 4 they become mature and engage in activities where conceiving is possible. The maturity for being able to reproduce and the complete development of skeleton muscles and bones differs from one breed to the other. Depending on the countries or regions protocol they engage in the breeding season.
Use of Horse by Humans
In the olden days, horses were used for riding when waging wars in the center of a battlefield. Gradually discovered for transportation. They were also used for meat and milk. The flowing mane was also extracted for interiors, pottery, necklaces and bracelets for their lustrous nature. The urine of a pregnant Mare is also used for many pharmaceutical purposes. Horses are also used by humans for activities like racing, and also by farmers in plowing. Horse Riding has also become a popular sport to maintain fitness and a healthy lifestyle and many indulge in it for therapy purposes as well. Interaction of horses with humans have been through various mediums like sports, equestrian sports have been prevalent practices. Even after the horse was used as a means in combating wars, humans have actually still preserved this beautiful creature and not endangered its species.
The horse is an interesting animal to study and learn about and there are many fun and interesting facts about horses which are as follows;
Horses can sleep standing as well as lying down, in an alert mode as they are preys so they are always ready in case there is a threat, they easily flee.
They are extremely loyal and empathetic.
To pull the air or wind for a sense of smell towards the olfactory glands, they make funny faces while doing so.
They are able to walk and run within a short time post-birth.
They are vegetarians even when in the wild, or open in nature they only feed on grass.
They possess extremely large and beautiful eyes among all the mammals on the land.
Their evolution has been in reverse unlike others from a small creature to a large one over a period of 50 million years.
They are still well taken care of in all regards and their use in wars has been long prohibited.
They have an excellent day as well as night vision with a dichromatic equine vision.
Estimates suggest that there are around 60 million horses with 400 different types of breeds in the world.
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