10 Interesting Facts Even Equestrians Might Not Know About Horses

December 23, 2022 3 min read

10 Interesting Facts Even Equestrians Might Not Know About Horses

Humans and horses have a relationship that began thousands of years ago. From working fields and charging into armies to breaking world records and winning competitions, this companionship has only grown stronger throughout the ages. There is, however, a lot that we still don’t know about these magnificent beasts.

In this article we discuss the history of horses and how our bond with them most likely came about. We’ll also be sharing some trivia that you probably didn’t know about your beloved companion. Read on as we break down this amazing educational read into three sections:

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Ever wondered how different modern-day horses are from their original ancestor?

 
Fun horse trivia and history

1. Horses and humans have worked together for 5,000 years 

According to the British Museum, the written history of this relationship goes as far back as 3500 BC, and likely even beyond that. Domesticating horses is considered to be one of our civilization’s milestones. Horse muscle was used in evolving ways of doing agriculture, commerce, travel, and war.

Horses as we know them are said to have first been seen in what is now Ukraine and West Kazakhstan. A feature on Science.com says that while it’s very hard to study the genetic lineage of domesticated horses due to interbreeding and diversity in mitochondrial DNA, evidence has shown that their ancestors roamed eastern Eurasia 160,000 years ago. Their ancestry, however, could be traced back 50 million years ago to a hoofed animal known as the Hyracotherium, also known as the “eohippus” or the “dawn horse”, as the Smithsonian Magazine notes. Isn’t that just amazing?

2. Horses play a huge role in many mythologies

There are still a lot of unknown equine facts when it comes to how horse and man formed a strong bond throughout the changes, but this relationship is most probably best seen in how they play a huge role in spiritual beliefs. Horses also have carved for themselves an important place among pantheons of gods in different societies. 

One of the most famous is the winged Pegasus, Greek mythology’s beautiful horse that was said to have been born from the blood of Medusa after being beheaded by Perseus. Pegasus was then tamed by Bellerophon with the help of Athena, the goddess of the hunt. According to Britannica, this mythical creature transformed into a constellation, and was seen as a symbol of the immortality of the human soul. 

Norse gods also have interactions with sacred horses. Odin, the All Father, is known to have the eight-legged steed Sleipnir, who was born of the god Loki, who transformed into a mare and mated with a giant’s stallion. Sleipnir carried Odin throughout his journeys in Norse mythology’s nine known realms.

Aside from the Greeks and the Norse, Indo-European tradition also has legendary horses that go back to the Bronze Age. According to Archeology.org, mentions of them were seen in the Rig Veda, India’s ancient collection of sacred Vedic Sanskrit hymns. 

3. The oldest evidence of horseback riding was found in China

Previously unknown horse facts, particularly about mounted equestrianism, saw the light of day through recently discovered horse skeletons in East Asia. A feature on The New York Times reveals that horseback riding or mounted equestrianism goes as far back as 350 BC in China, which reveals that this may have helped unify the empire under the Qin dynasty. 

Aside from strengthening the military, horses were also believed to have improved commerce, and made trading through the Silk Road more efficient and profitable. These findings were based on research done by University of Colorado Museum of Natural History archaeologist William Taylor and his colleagues Yue Li and Jian ma from the Northwest University in Xi’an, China. The academic work focused on horse skeletons approximately 2,400 years old that showed vertebrae that had unusual bone growth and other physical abnormalities that were consistent not just with horseback riding, but also with working the beast hard. Researchers theorized that these could be signs that they were pulling chariots or were some of the first that were used for cavalry combat. 

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Only about 2,000 Przewalskii’s Horses remain out in the wild, making them an endangered species.

 
Facts about different horse breeds

4. There is only one true wild horse breed

When you think about wild horses, you probably imagine images of big and beautiful stallions and mares galloping in slow motion through dusty fields. The reality is that these are not wild horses, but feral ones from domesticated breeds living in the wild. 

There is only one true wild horse breed in the world today. The Equus ferus przewalskii or Przewalskii’s Horse roams the steppes of Central Asia, and is considered a holy animal in Mongolia, where it’s called takhi.

Takhi are not for the equestrian lifedata-style. As a spiritual animal, they are not to be ridden nor tamed. They don’t have the graceful curves of horses usually seen in commercials. They are small compared to their domesticated peers and quite muscular. They have a white muzzle, light-brown fur and short, fuzzy hair on their heads. National Geographic places their weight at around 440 to 750 pounds and are usually just short of six feet in height. They have never been domesticated, and it was only because they were dangerously close to extinction that they were bred in captivity. A huge part of Mongolia’s culture, takhi have only been recently reintroduced back into the wild as conservation efforts for the breed continue.

5. The tallest horse ever recorded was a Shire

The Guinness World Record for the tallest horse ever is a Shire gelding named Sampson. Sampson stood at 7 feet, 2.5 inches and weighed an impressive 3,360 pounds in 1850. This record-setting mount hailed from Toddington Mills, Bedfordshire, UK.

Shires are known to be some of the biggest horses in the world, and are popular for their strength and physique. Many Shire horses were draft horses, which were employed for pulling carts and ploughing fields. This breed is known for being gentle giants, which often makes it very easy for them to work with humans. 

Another horse breed that held a world record was a Percheron named Dr. Le Gear back in 1915, who stood at 7 feet and weighed 2,995 pounds. Hailing from France, this breed of draft horses can also produce smaller mounts, but are known to be some of the strongest steeds when it comes to pulling, Horse and Hound notes.

6. There is such a thing as a “zorse”

A “zorse” or a “zebroid” is the result of having a zebra stallion mate with a horse mare, while a “hebra” or a “zebrinny” is the result of mating a horse stallion with a zebra mare. The former usually needs human intervention, while the latter can happen in the wild, although very rarely so. 

This, however, doesn’t mean that the pairing would result in offspring. Plus, if there is offspring at all, chances are that it will have reproductive issues. According to Farmhouse Guide, zorses and hebras are often sterile.

Want to learn more about interesting horse breeds? You can indulge in even more peculiar horse breeds such as these “10 Unusual Horse Breeds You’ve Probably Never Heard of Before.

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Head, withers, knees, and hooves! Make it a habit to check up on your horse's hooves regularly.

 
Horse health tidbits

7. Horses need to visit the dentist at least once a year. 

Mouth health is highly important when giving your horse the best life possible, as any abnormalities and injuries can affect not just their performance, but also their demeanour. Watch out for your horse’s chewing habits: Are they having a hard time eating? Are they salivating too much? Are horse treats constantly being dropped? Being attentive can help you quickly address any problems.

Aside from regular dental checkups, you also need to choose the correct horse bit to avoid pain. A bit produces pressure in your horse’s mouth, which makes it a must that your chosen bit follows the unique shape of their mouth. A veterinarian or a bitting expert can help you find the best one for your mount. 

Looking for bit accessories? We've got you covered right here.

8. The right saddle pad can help protect your horse’s spine from injury.

It goes without saying that when riding a horse, you’re not the only one who should be safe and comfortable–your partner should have the same experience, too. One way to ensure both your safety is by picking the right tools. Saddle pads are an important investment to your equestrian lifedata-style, as they help keep your horse safer than just going with a saddle alone. The key is finding the right fit so as to be able to distribute your weight better, protect your horse during prolonged rides and rough terrains, and provide the both of you with additional support. 

Saddle pads are one of our favorite products to develop. Check out our collection here.

9. A huge percentage of horse pain problems are often caused by hoof issues.

President of the Florida-based Equine Sports Medicine Group Rob Boswell, DVM, shares with The Horse that when a horse shows no signs of injury in the offending limb, “75% of the time” the issue is the hoof. 

The hoof can hide a lot of injuries–puncture wounds, for one, can seem benign on the outside but may have already caused tremendous destruction on the inside. An accurate diagnosis is important in knowing where exactly the injury is, which means going through an entire battery of tests from diagnostic nerve blocks, to x-rays, to MRIs.

10. Switching up activities can help keep your horse in tip-top shape, especially during active rests.

After competitions and performances, your horse's much-needed rest is highly important. Feel free to explore other activities beyond the routine that they usually practice. Equus Magazine suggests that their active rest habits be interspersed with rides to new locations or with new exercises in the arena. 

Trail riding is a good way to keep your horse active while refreshing their energies. Like you, they also need new sights and sounds, so don’t be afraid of a bit of leisure time.

There’s still much to learn about our four-legged friends for sure, so keep an eye on upcoming trends and on our blog for all the updates and need-to-know’s about the horse world. Don’t forget to regularly maintain your horse’s tack! For replacements, you know you can always count on Kavallerie’s premium pieces. 

Click here to view our selection of high quality horse tack!