Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Why do horses like sweet things?

Horses have a sweet tooth - but why? It's because the freshest grass with the highest nutritional value is also the sweetest.

(Needless to say, horses should not get too many sweets).

Monday, July 24, 2017

Can horses tell men and women apart?

Likely, yes. In particular, horses are definitely going to notice if a woman handling them is menstruating (although it doesn't seem to bother a properly trained domestic horse much). They have a good sense of smell and are very good at reading body language.

Some horses do appear to be prefer to be handled and ridden by one sex over the other.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Can horses hold grudges?

Yup. It's common belief that horses don't understand delayed consequences and therefore won't stay "mad" with their handlers, but this is not entirely true. (Actually, it's that given the communication barrier between the species, horses tend to assume that they are in trouble for the most recent thing they did).

I've had a horse grump at me for an entire ride because they were annoyed that I made them walk out of the barn on their own, or otherwise do something they didn't want to do. And they definitely remember people who didn't treat them well (and people who did). So, yup, they can hold a grudge. How long, well...that depends.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

What is the guttural pouch?

The barn I ride at just had to get rid of a new pony because he turned out to be a chronic strangles carrier.

This happens when the bacteria gets into the guttural pouch, from which it is nearly impossible to extract using antibiotics. You and I don't have guttural pouches - they are found in equines, rhinoceri and tapirs, as well as in some bats, hyraxes and one species of mouse. They connect the middle air to the pharynx. So, they're kind of part of the inner air.

The purpose of the guttural pouch is to cool the brain during extreme exercise - a useful adaptation for a being that relies on running for defense. But when it becomes infected, it can be very hard to treat.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Why are most male racehorses not gelded?

Two reasons.

The first is to give them a chance to prove their worth through actual performance.

The second is that the natural aggression of intact males can be channeled through training to give them a stronger desire to win (geldings, on the other hand, tend to perform more reliably).

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Can two horses pull more than twice as much as one horse?

It depends. An experienced team (pair) that gets along well and is trained correctly can pull well over twice what each horse can pull separately.

A green or ill-matched team can't pull much more what one of them can as they get in each other's way.

Monday, July 17, 2017

What is a "prophet's thumbprint"?

A prophet's thumbprint is an indentation in a horse's neck, most often found in Arabians. It is associated by the Bedouin with unusual loyalty and trainability - most likely the trait was found in a genetic line that was particularly good and became associated with it. However, it's still thought to be lucky by some people.