Horse Facts -


Tons of facts about horses you probably never knew. Hope you learn something.
  • It takes about three days for a horse to digest an oat.
  • There are a total of about 75 million horses in the world.
  • "The one great precept and practice in using a horse is this, never deal with him when you are in a fit of passion." Xenophon, The Art Of Horsemanship, 400 BC
  • The tallest documented mule is Apollo. He foaled in 1977, measures 19.1 hh, and is the offspring of a Belgian mare crossed with a mammoth jack.
  • Show jumping was first televised in Great Britain in1948 during the Olympic Games at Wembley, London.
  • The smallest recorded horse was a stallion called Little Pumpkin; foaled on April 15, 1973; he stood 14 inches high and weighed just 20 pounds in 1975.
  • The oldest horse recorded was Old Billy. Foaled in 1760, he died on November 27, 1822, having reached an incredible 62 years of age.
  • The oldest Thoroughbred racehorse was Tango Duke. Foaled in 1935, he died on January 25, 1978 at the age of 42.
  • The tallest documented horse was a Shire gelding called Sampson; foaled in 1846, he measured 21.2 hh in 1850 and weighed 3,360 pounds.
  • The oldest horse to win a race was 18 year old Revenge, who won at Shrewsbury, England, in 1790.
  • The fastest horse recorded was Big Racket, who reached an amazing 43.26 mph in a quarter mile race in Mexico City on February 5, 1945.
  • Charles Pahud de Mortanges (Netherlands) holds the record for winning four Olympic gold medals for three-day eventing in 1924, 1928, and 1932.
  • The Thoroughbred Janus, who was imported to the USA in 1756, is considered to be one of the foundation sires of the Quarter Horse.
  • 'Duplice corde, two hearts that beat as one and a single brain: the perfect combination of horse and rider.'  Alessandro Alvisi
  • Horses will generally begin to grow their winter coats in September, when the hair thickens and becomes coarser and dull. This gives rise to the saying, 'no horse looks well at blackberry time'.
  • A 'war horse' is the term given to someone who has lived through many hardships and can always be relied upon.
  • The most common type of Roman chariot to be used in races was drawn by four horses, and was called the quadriga.
  • The earliest methods of harnessing animals always involved two animals, one on either side of a central shaft. The idea of harnessing one animal between two shafts did not appear to develop until the second century in China.
  • The Great Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, kept a herd of approximately  10,000 pure white mares, along with pure white stallions, and these horses were treated as sacred.
  • Koumiss is the name given to a drink made from fermented mare's milk that is a specialty among the nomadic Kazaks of Kazakhstan, Eurasia. The Kazaks believe that this drink can cure many diseases.
  • Old horses will often grow white hairs around the face and their muzzle.
  • Vaqueros is the name given to the Spanish cowboy; they were among the first cowboys in America.
  • The first trams were horse-drawn, usually by one to four horses. They traveled at a speed of around 6-7 mph, and were still being used well into the last half of the 19th century.
  • In the Persian epic Shah Namah, Book of Kings, the chief hero, Rustam, rode a horse called Rakush, who was reputed to be the best warhorse in the world.
  • When a horse or pony loses a shoe, it is sometimes said to have 'thrown a shoe'.
  • Mr. Ed, the talking equine star of the 1960s television series, was a golden palomino. He learned an enormous amount of tricks for his role, including answering a telephone, opening doors, writing notes with a pencil, and unplugging a light. Apparently, Mr. Ed would occasionally have a fit of temper, as befitting his star status, and would stand stock still, wheezing and refusing to move.
  • When clipping a horse's coat, the first clip is usually done in October and the last clip should not be done any later than the last week of January. Clipping after this time will affect the spring coat growing through.
  • The first American-bred and owned racehorse to win the Grand National was Battleship, son of Man O' War, who won the legendary race in 1938 while being ridden by a seventeen year old jockey.
  • The Celts regarded the horse as a sacred animal in their beliefs.
  • Horses' hooves grow approximately 0.25 in a month, and take nearly a year to grow from the coronet band to the ground.
  • In the state of Arizona, it is illegal for cowboys to walk through a hotel lobby wearing their spurs.
  • The WAHO is the World Arabian Horse Association, which approves the Arabian studbooks worldwide.
  • Feeding garlic to horses is believed to help combat some worms, repel flies, aid respiratory disorders, and have a cleansing effect of blood. There is, however, no scientific evidence to prove this, and it does cause halitosis (chronic bad breath).
  • The amazing tomb of Qin Shi Huang, 259 BC to 210 BC, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty contains over 500 terracotta models of chariots horses, and 116 terracotta cavalry horses. The terracotta models show great detail, with the manes clipped and braided, and the horses standing around 17 hh.
  • Han Kan was a famous artist of the T'ang Dynasty, 618-906 AD and was the court and horse painter to the Emperor Hsuan-Tsung, who is believed to have owned approximately 40,000 horses.
  • Horses with lop ears are often said to have a kind temperament, but beware of the exception to the rule.
  • At one time it was a Japanese custom to hang the head of a horse at the entrance to a farmhouse to act as a good luck talisman.
  • Cross-country jumps are marked with a red flag on the right side and a white flag on the left side; the horse has to jump through these two flags or it is considered out of bounds and you are disqualified.
  • During Oliver Cromwell's reign in England (1649-59) horse racing was illegal.
  • When riding on roads it is a good idea to wear some form of reflective clothing.
  • A landau was the preferred fine-weather carriage for fashionable ladies and gentlemen of the 19th century.
  • The western cowboy is responsible for taking care of the vast herds of cattle and horses belonging to the rancher for whom he works.
  • You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink!
  • A healthy adult horse should have a pulse of between 36 and 40 beats per minute while at rest.
  • 'Don't lock the stable door after the horse has bolted' is an old saying meaning that once the damage has been done it is too late to take precautions against it.
  • Japan has restaurants that specialize in horse meat. When this delicacy is served raw, it is called 'cherry blossom'.
  • The highest prize money in horse racing in the world is the $2.4 million first prize for the Dubai World Cup.
  • Arabians have one less rib, one less lumbar bone, and one or two fewer tail vertebrae than other horses.

* Information summarized from The Encyclopedia of Horses and Ponies, by Tamsin Pickeral


Horses are the hoofed, herbivorous species that include the zebra, donkey, and mule. There are several groups of species of horses. One contains the zebra, which is native to Africa and another has the donkey, including the kiang and onager of Asia and the wild ass of Africa. The third group contains Przewalski's wild horse, which is now only able to be found only in captivity. The only extant true wild horse, it produces fertile offspring when crossed with the domestic horse. Other "wild" horses can be found, including the mustang. These horses have been seen living in the wild.

Modern Horses

One of the most noted characteristics of the horse is that it has only one toe, called the hoof. The hoof has a hard covering, made of keratin. There are several parts of the hoof. A horse's skull is very long, and horses have 44 teeth. A horse uses it's incisors, which form a semicircle, to crop grass and other plants. A horse's skull is composed of 34 bones. There is a gap in-between the horse's premolars and other teeth, which is where the bit is settled when the horse is being driven or ridden. All the teeth have long crowns and pretty short roots. A large horse's stomach can hold approximately 10 gallons at one time.

Male and female horses both are mature enough to reproduce by the age of two. However, they are rarely used for breeding until they are at least three years of age. The gestation period is about 11 months, and single births are the rule. Twins are a rarity, and only a few births of three or more foals have ever been recorded.