Grace, Speed, Endurance
The first ancestors of the horses that we see today lived about 50 million years ago. There are thought to be more than 300 different breeds of horses found around the world today, each being bred for a purpose. Wild horses once roamed freely in the grasslands, small forests and the deserts of Asia and Africa. In time, they were domesticated and introduced to many areas worldwide. Horses are beautiful, graceful mammals that have long slender legs, a stocky body, and a long, narrow head. They are swift runners and possess grace, speed, and endurance. Their hoofs are made out of horn which comes in different colors, with black being most common. Horses have remarkable hearing – they can hear sounds from almost every direction. Their vision is also excellent and they have an advanced sense of taste. Horses and their relatives are referred to as odd-toed ungulates- a term used to described hoofed animals.
Some horses are almost as tall as a man, but they are quite heavy and some of them may weigh up to a 1000 pounds- or as much as a big motorcycle. All horses are grazers. They love to eat grass and plant materials. They eat what are known as legumes. The best known legumes are peas, beans, peanuts, lentils, alfalfa and carob. Horses also enjoy eating fruit, especially apples, and carrots are a special treat. They need a high amount of salt in their diets because they drink a lot of water. A horse’s gut is designed to have food flowing through it almost continually and horses graze most of the day, if allowed to do so. The horse is a very useful animal but some species of wild horses are threatened. One species, Przewalski’s horse, was classified as extinct in the wild, but thanks to captive breeding it survived in captivity and has been reintroduced to its native habitat in Mongolia.