Horses are called the noblest of creatures. They are known to be man’s unique and best friend from 4000 to 2000 B.C. Domesticating horses began around 4000 BC, and it was widespread by 3000 BC. In the olden days, horses were widely used during battles. Before the dawn of automated vehicles, the horse was extensively used as a draft animal, and riding on horseback was one of the foremost means of transportation.
Horse, (Equus caballus) is a solid-hoofed herbivorous mammal. It belongs to the Equidae family. Horses belonging to the subspecies caballus are domesticated. Around 400 different species of horses are used in various activities like racing, pulling carts and ploughing fields.
Physical Attributes of Horses
- The horse is the largest eyed land mammal with a range of vision of more than 350 degree.
- Horses are found in numerous colours and types with shining skin being their outstanding feature.
- Based on their gender horses have around 36 to 42 teeth.
- The horse skeletal system consists of 205 bones.
- Anatomy of the horse is well developed, which ensures a good sense of balance and a flight or fight response.
- Horses have a connective tissue, called the nuchal ligament. This provides support for their long and heavily muscled neck.
- The vision of horses is better at night when compared to humans.
- The size of the horse’s brain is only half of the human’s brain.
- Horses have 4 natural gaits of gradually increasing speed: walk, trot, canter, and gallop.
- The legs of horses are easily prone to injuries.
Natural Habitat of Horses
Wild horses prefer wide open spaces with grass blankets as their home. These warm-blooded animals thrive in grassy plains, lush valleys, and mountainsides. Horses have a chief trait of easily adapting themselves to the environment. Horses are nomadic grazers and spend 20 hours a day just grazing. A dozen horses consisting of both mares and young horses live in groups. Each herd consists of one adult male. The stallion warns the herd from the predators and positions itself at the back of the herd. Wild horses take shelter in hills, under trees, cliff faces to safeguard themselves from severe climatic conditions. Arabian horses can sustain very dry conditions in arid areas.
In domestic circumstances, horses are restricted to a stall or a yard for part of the day. Otherwise they are seen in a small field or paddock. Stables are made up of stalls measuring around 12 by 12 feet. Caretakers provide hay, other feeds, and water within the confined space. The horse moves freely and grazes over for some amount of time, so it is mandatory that those horses kept inside a stable are also allowed to roam out in the open space.
Role of the Horse in Human Society
In the olden days, horses were employed in fields to help in agriculture. Machinery has replaced horses in most part of the world but still, horses are used to plough fields in under-developed countries. By the end of the Bronze Age, horses were used in warfare. Although automation has mostly substituted the horse as a weapon of war, horses are still used in limited military uses, mostly for ceremonial purposes. In areas of rough terrain, horses are used in transport activities where usage of motorized automobiles is not possible. Therapeutic horse riding is used to improve the life of mentally and physically disabled persons. Mounted police horses are engaged for patrol duties and crowd control. Horse racing is a famous international sport watched globally. Horses are given special training to participate in polo. Horsehide leather is used in manufacturing boots, gloves and jackets.
The life period of horses is between 20 to 33 years. Galloping through time, the relationship between horse and human has improved from hunting to domestication, accelerating global development.