Horse Facts for Kids - Discover Equine Secrets
You know already a lot about these wonderful animals: but have a look on some interesting horse facts for kids with"equinitis" or horse-craziness:
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Horses are scientifically called Equines. This derivates from their Latin name, Equus caballus. Close to them are donkeys, zebras, mules, the hinny and the Onager that is also known as the Asian Wild Ass.
Equines have been domesticated and bred by man for approximately 6000 years. They can be kept together with other animals as companions, e.g. sheep, goats, donkeys or cattle. They can be very attached to smaller animals, like cats. Dogs need to be well behaved and trained to avoid accidents, because horses are easily scared by dogs.
Have you ever wondered how old a pony/horse can get?
The oldest horse I’ve ever seen in veterinary practice was 48 years old! Usually they reach 30 years, ponies often live even longer. Their age can be estimated by looking at the incisors of the upper and lower jaws. From the age of 12 on it becomes very hard to say how old it really is, because the teeth are becoming worn that much.
Did you know how Equines are called at the different stages of life?
Any young baby-horse is called foal until it is 6 months old, then up to the age of 2 years we talk about yearlings. If it is a male horse it is called colt as long as it is under 4 years old. If it gets older than 4 we call him stallion. Most colts will be operated (castrated), because they are not intended to be used for breeding and they will be easier to handle, ride or drive and keep. After castration (removal of the testicles), it is called a gelding. A young female pony or horse is a filly and after the age of 4 years we call it a mare.
Did you know that Equines are very social animals?
We call a group of ponies or horses herd. In a herd is a clear defined hierarchy or ranking amongst the animals: the strongest, leading female is called alpha mare. One stallion can live together with about 20 -25 mares in a natural herd.
Do you speak "Horse-ish"?
You probably experienced already how equines communicate with each other. Whinnying and neighing can be heard, if you ride away from other horses or if they meet. Mares express very different sounds when they are nursing a foal. Deep, smooth sounds, whickering can be heard then. You might also have heard it at feeding time from other horses. To warn others in the herd, they use an alarming snorting. If two new ponies meet they are snuffling at each other and are very excited. Usually you can hear a sharp and loud squealing sound. They often face each other, squeal and lift a front leg or back up and swirl round, ready to kick. When a mare is in season, a stallion can express a loud roaring which is his mating call.
About "Gears" and Speed
This list of horse facts for kids would not be complete without mentioning how the different speeds or gaits are called: the slowest is called Walk. A bit faster than that is the Trot. It can be a bit hard to sit the Trot comfortably. The Canter is faster than trot and the fastest pace is the Gallop. There are also some breeds, like the Icelandic pony or sometimes the Trotter which are able to perform Toelt or Pace. These gaits are extremely comfortable to sit!
Did you know how and where a horse’s height is measured?
They are measured on the tallest point of the spine, the whither. You can find this very bony part of the spine directly at the end of the neck, where you usually put the front of saddle to. The height is measured in cm or in hands (hh). A pony reaches up to14.2 hh, a horse measures over 14.2 hh.
How well do you know horse breeds?
We have got a countless breeds on our planet! They can be very different in color, height and shape.
Hooves and Legs
Horses are able to stand while sleeping without falling down!
Photo: Alex Brollo
Equines sense their environment differently to us humans. Their senses are very good, because this helps to survive as prey animals in the wild. They can smell better than we, they can hear a lot sharper and are able to turn their ears into various directions and the eyes are located on the side of the head. So they are able to see far behind themselves, but not very sharp. If they sense danger they instinctively run!