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Horse Fact

Horses belong to the equus family.  Equus comes from the ancient Greek word meaning quickness.  Horses are mammals in the same family as zebras, mules and donkeys.

How long do horses live?
An average life span for a horse is around 20-25 years though they can live for up to 30 years.  The oldest recorded horse was "Old Billy," an English barge horse, who lived to be 62 years old.

The Parts
of a

The Horse

How many breeds of horses are there?
There are over 350 different breeds of horses and ponies.  These fall into four main groups:
"light" horses with small bones, thin legs, and weighing less than 1300 pounds; i.e. Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, Morgan horses, and Arabians
"heavy" or draft horses that can weigh up to 2000 pounds and are strong with large bones and sturdy legs; i.e. Percherons, Draft, Clydesdale, and Shire horses
ponies that are usually not more than 58" tall (14.2 hands and under), making them smaller than a horse; i.e. Shetland, Haflinger, and Caspian ponies
feral horses that are wild or semi-wild horses.  A mustang is a feral horse.

Why does a horse have to wear shoes?
Horses that work or travel on hard roads need their feet (hooves) protected by metal shoes.  Horses hooves, like our finger and toe nails, also grow continuously and need to be trimmed.  To do this, the horses' shoes need to be removed and their hooves trimmed every 4-6 weeks.  After trimming their hooves, new shoes are fitted.
The person who cares for a horse's feet is called a farrier or blacksmith.  Scan  p35 "know Your Horse" parts of a hoof

What do people mean when they say a horse is so many "hands" tall?

Horses are measured by the width of a human hand - 4" or 10 cm.  Measurement is taken from the ground up to the withers, the highest point on the horse's shoulder.  A light horse such as a Lipizzana measures between 15.1 and 16.2hh while a heavy horse such as a Shire is between 16.2 and 17.2hh.  Ponies are under 14hh.

How can you tell how old a horse is by looking at their teeth?

It is possible to age a horse fairly accurately up to 10 years of age by their teeth.  Whether they are first teeth, permanent teeth, the presence of incisor teeth, the length and slope of teeth all help indicate a horse's age.  It is more difficult to age adult horses by their teeth.

What are the different paces of a horse?
The four natural paces for the horse are the walk, trot, canter and gallop.





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Last updated on 02/21/2001       1:22 PM PDT
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