This week, we’re honouring our equine companions with 10 fun and interesting facts about horses…
1. Horses’ teeth take up more space in their heads than their brains do
On average, fully grown male horses have 40 teeth, whereas their female counterparts have 36 teeth. Both genders have tiny brains! They only weigh around 1kg and are the same size as a human child’s.
2. Horses have different names depending on their age and gender
An adult male horse is called a stallion, and a young male is called a colt. On the other hoof, an adult female is a mare, and a young female is a filly. A castrated adult male also has its very own name – they’re known as geldings.
3. Horses can’t vomit or burp
This is because they have an extremely powerful lower oesophageal sphincter (LES). This is the valve that sits between their stomach and oesophagus. Unlike us and other mammals, this valve is so strong that it only has a one-way function. This means horses are unable to relax this valve, and that their stomach contents – including food, water and gas – can’t come back up.
4. Horses grieve just like us
Horses are very social animals and will get lonely if kept alone or if a companion passes. Wild horses – and even horses residing on pastures – will live in herds consisting of many mares, their offspring and at least one adult male. The central part of the group is the mares. And they’ll stay together even if the stallion leaves.
5. The most expensive horse in the world sold for £53.7 million
The stallion – named Fusaichi Pegasus – was born in 1997 and won the Kentucky Derby in 2000. Throughout his racing career, he racked up winnings totalling £2 million! He was then sold to Coolmore Stud in Ireland – the world's largest breeder of thoroughbred racehorses.
6. Horses have the largest eyes of any land mammal
With a diameter of five centimetres, horse’s eyes are eight times bigger than ours. They also have a third eyelid located on the inside corner of the horse’s eye. It closes diagonally and helps to protect the eye from trauma. Interested in learning more? Check out our guide on how horses see. It dispels the myths around horse vision and includes some interesting equine eye facts.
7. Every horse in North America and Australia descended from European horses
Horses were introduced to Australia by western settlers, as they have no native horse breed. Similarly, horses disappeared from the Americas almost 11,000 years ago and weren’t reintroduced until Europeans brought them over. ‘Wild’ horses in North America are just feral horses that escaped from captivity. A new genetic analysis has shown that almost every single modern horse breed is descended from stallions brought to Europe from Asia and Arabia.
8. Horses can sleep standing up or lying down
You might have heard the old wives’ tale that when a horse is lying down it means that it’s unwell. But that’s exactly that, just a tale. Our four-legged companions can sleep lying down as well as standing up. And did you know that a group of horses won’t all sleep at the same time? One of them will always stand guard on lookout duty.
9. The oldest horse ever lived to 62 years old
The average lifespan of a horse is 25 to 30 years. But for Old Billy – born in 1760 in Lancashire – that would’ve been mere horseplay. He managed to live to more than double the average age. Is your horse getting into its older years? Check out our top tips on how to feed a senior horse.
10. Horse pregnancy lasts for a whopping 11 months
In some cases, it can even last for over a year! And did you know that most horses will give birth to a single litter? Twins are extremely rare in horses as there simply isn’t enough room in the embryo for the competing foals. Triplets are a complete miracle, and they’ll unfortunately often die before birth. And anything over three is completely unheard of!