The Horses Portal
horse (Equus ferus caballus) is a
hoofed mammal. It belongs to the taxonomic family
Equidae and is one of two
Equus ferus. The horse has
evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature,
Eohippus, into the large, single-toed animal of today. Humans began domesticating horses around 4000 BC, and their
domestication is believed to have been widespread by 3000 BC. Horses in the subspecies caballus are domesticated, although some domesticated populations live in the wild as
feral horses. These feral populations are not true
wild horses, as this term is used to describe horses that have never been domesticated. There is an extensive, specialized vocabulary used to describe equine-related concepts, covering everything from
anatomy to life stages, size,
locomotion, and behavior.
adapted to run, allowing them to quickly escape predators, possessing an excellent
sense of balance and a strong
fight-or-flight response. Related to this need to flee from predators in the wild is an unusual trait: horses are able to sleep both standing up and lying down, with younger horses tending to sleep significantly more than adults. Female horses, called
mares, carry their young for approximately 11 months, and a young horse, called a
foal, can stand and run shortly following birth. Most domesticated horses begin training under a
saddle or in a
harness between the ages of two and four. They reach full adult development by age five, and have an average lifespan of between 25 and 30 years.
Horse breeds are loosely divided into three categories based on general temperament: spirited "hot bloods" with speed and endurance; "cold bloods", such as
draft horses and some
ponies, suitable for slow, heavy work; and "
warmbloods", developed from crosses between hot bloods and cold bloods, often focusing on creating breeds for specific riding purposes, particularly in Europe. There are more than 300 breeds of horse in the world today, developed for many different uses. (
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Clydesdale is a Scottish
draught horse. It is named for its area of origin, the
Clydesdale or valley of the
River Clyde, much of which is within the county of
The origins of the breed lie in the eighteenth century, when
stallions were imported to Scotland and mated with local mares; in the nineteenth century,
blood was introduced. The first recorded use of the name "Clydesdale" for the breed was in 1826; the horses spread through much of Scotland and into northern England. After the
was formed in 1877, thousands of Clydesdales were exported to many countries of the world, particularly to Australia and New Zealand. In the early twentieth century numbers began to fall, both because many were taken for use in the
First World War
, and because of the increasing
mechanisation of agriculture
. By the 1970s, the
Rare Breeds Survival Trust
considered the breed vulnerable to extinction. Numbers have since increased slightly, but the breed is still listed as vulnerable. (
Did you know?
The following are images from various horse-related articles on Wikipedia.
Secondary characteristics of a stallion include heavier muscling for a given breed than is seen in mares or geldings, often with considerable development along the crest of the neck, as shown in this image. (from
longitudinal section of
molars of selected prehistoric horses (from
Evolution of the horse)
This image shows a representative sequence, but should not be construed to represent a "straight-line" evolution of the horse. Reconstruction, left forefoot skeleton (third digit emphasized yellow) and
The pinna of a horse's ears can rotate in any direction to pick up sounds (from
1- Heel perioplium, 2-Bulb, 3-Frog, 4-Frog cleft, 5-Lateral groove, 6-Heel, 7-Bar, 8-Seat-of-corn, 9-Pigmented walls 10-Water line, 11-White line, 12-Apex of the frog, 13-Sole, 14-Toe, 15-How to measure hoof width (blue dotted line), 16-Quarter, 17-How to measure length (blue dotted line) (from
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