Understanding Horses - A Brief Overview!
The horse (Equus caballus) is a hoofed mammal, belonging to the family Equidae. As per historical evidence, the domestication of horses started way back during the 3000B.C. and has continued ever since. Back then horses were used in warfare and a wide variety of riding techniques were developed, using various styles of equipment and methods of control. An extensive and specialized vocabulary is used to describe the horse related concepts, including everything from anatomy to size, color, markings, locomotion, behavior, breeds and life stages.
Horses and their well-developed sense of balance coupled with a strong fight-or-flight instinct enable them to make use of a great speed to escape predators. It is also noteworthy that horses are capable of sleeping both when they are standing up or lying down. Female horses known as mares have a gestation period of approximately 11 months, and the newborn young horse, called the foal, can stand and even run shortly following birth.
The training of a domesticated horse ideally should begin by the age of two to four under saddle or in a harness because they usually reach the full adult development stage by age five. The average lifespan of a horse is approximately 25 and 30 years.
Horse breeds are loosely divided into three broad categories based on their general temperament:
- Spirited hot blood with high speed and endurance.
- Cold blood which are the draft horses and some ponies. They are mostly used for slow, heavy work
- Warmblood developed by genetic engineering between hot blood and cold blood. These breeds were developed with the main focus on specific riding purposes, particularly in Europe.
Horses and humans interact widely in a variety of sports competitions and non-competitive recreational pursuits. They have found their place and importance in various working activities such as police work, entertainment, agriculture, and therapy.
Many products including meat, milk, hide, hair and bone are derived from horses. Nowadays even pharmaceuticals are being extracted from the urine of pregnant mares. The human horse relation is very well developed with them providing the domesticated horses with food, water, and shelter, as well as attention from specialists such as veterinarians.
Most of the horses today are domesticated but there are still the endangered populations of the Przewalski Horse which is correctly referred to as the only remaining true wild horse. There are other nondomesticated horses as well. These include the common feral horses which live in the wild but are descended from domesticated ancestors.
Understanding Horses - Right from the early ages when humankind was busy taking his tottering footsteps through the winding roads of evolution, horses were domesticated for various purposes like transportation and carrying goods.