10 Fascinating Facts About Horses

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Horses have accompanied humans for thousands of years and they show no sign of going away. As such, they’re an instantly recognizable and familiar sight, even though increasingly many of us only ever really see them on television. It’s a shame, really, because these mighty animals are well worth all the attention they can get. Today, let’s honor them by taking a look at some of the more interesting aspects of their life and history.

10 The “Horse Laugh”

You may have seen a horse making a strange expression where it curls its upper lip and bares its teeth into a wide grin. This makes the animal look like it’s laughing. In reality, this is part of a special nose-enhancing technique called a flehmen response.

Horses pull this amusing face in order to direct scents floating in the air toward special olfactory glands that are located at the end of the horse’s nasal passage. The lip-curling and the slight tilting of head help the animal to waft these smells toward these glands. The horse isn’t laughing at you, it’s just trying to determine whether you smell bad.

The flehmen response is far more common in male than female horses. Much like giraffes, stallions often sample the urine of mares this way to check if they’re in heat.

9 The Horse Industry

For people who have never been involved with horses, it’s easy to assume all they need is some hay every now and then, a field to run around on, and a preteen girl or two to swoon over them. This could not be further from the truth.

Horses are used for various competitions and sports, breeding, recreation, and plain old work. It takes a lot more than just a farmer and a plow to keep the show running. In fact, horses are a massive business. Approximately 4.6 million Americans work in the horse industry in one way or another. The US horse industry is estimated to have an economic effect of $39 billion—annually.

That’s just the measly nine million American horses. There are approximately 58 million horses in the world and the vast majority of them are cared for by humans.

8 Police Horses

Police horses have been used in peacetime law enforcement since the 17th century and the first official mounted police unit was established in 1805. This London-based unit was a massive success, and in a few years, both Australia and America had adopted the idea.

Police horses have always been much more than a mere method of transportation. The benefits of a horseback cop are obvious—after all, a police officer riding a huge animal commands a very different kind of respect than one on foot. That’s why the horses selected for the job tend to be large geldings (castrated horses), who are both imposing and level-headed enough for the potentially stressful job.

The number of police horses is slowly waning due to the advent of police motorcycles and other modes of light transport, but many countries still keep a few mounted units around for public relations and crowd-control purposes.

7 Eyes

Horses have fairly good eyesight, thanks to their very peculiar eyes. At a diameter of roughly 5 centimeters (2 in), they are the largest of any land mammal. When measured in volume, a horse’s eye is up to nine times larger than that of a human. Legend has it that this means horses see things as bigger than humans, which is why they sometimes startle easily, but this is not true.

The horse eye has three eyelids—two ordinary ones and a third called the nictitating membrane—which is located in the inner corner of the eye and occasionally sweeps the eye, lubricating and cleaning it if need arises. Horses can’t properly focus their eyes like humans do. Instead, the lower parts of their retina see objects at a distance, and the upper ones are for closer viewing. This means that if you want to know where a horse is looking, you should pay attention to how it’s holding its head. If you see a horse standing on a field and it’s doing that thing where it’s standing with its head held up high and ears pricked forward, it’s not just showboating—the animal is probably just looking at something interesting in the distance.

6 Equid Hybrids

Equid hybrids are, as the name tactfully suggests, hybrid animals that are bred from the three equid species—zebras, donkeys, and horses. Most people know about the mule (also known as “john” or “molly” depending on the gender), the cross of a donkey male and a horse female. However, it is only one of the many, many equid hybrids out there.

One such combination is the offspring of a horse father and a donkey mother called a “hinny.” Zebras and horses can be bred into “zorses” and “hebras”, which are also known as golden zebras because, frankly, those names make the poor creatures sound like science fiction characters. Adding ponies to the mix brings even more hilarious sounding options, such as “zonies” and “zetlands.”

Equid hybrids have been created since the start of the 20th century. Scientists started the work by crossbreeding zebras and donkeys, but quickly moved on to horses, presumably because they got too embarrassed to call their creations names like “zebra ass.”

5 Horse Shoes

Everyone knows most horses are fitted with horseshoes, but most people aren’t aware that these curved pieces of metal are not just to protect the hoof. The hard parts of horse hooves are made of keratin—the same sturdy protein that comprise horns, nails, and hair—and therefore leave a lot to be desired when it comes to things like traction. Imagine running around a wet, paved street wearing horns as shoes and you can see the problem.

Fitting the hoof with a shoe fixes this issue. The shoe improves the traction of the hoof and provides extra shock absorption, which you may recognize as the exact same benefits your running shoes give you. That’s right—horseshoes are, more or less, equine Air Jordans. Horse shoes also share another similarity with the sports shoe industry—there is a ridiculously huge selection of different types, such as pronation-correcting support shoes, “natural balance” shoes, and even super lightweight aluminum shoes for serious racing horses.

4 Horse Names

If you’ve ever been to a horse race, you probably know that most horse names are ridiculous. Cats and dogs are usually given cute, powerful, or human-like names, but horses tend to end up with names like “Seabiscuit”, “Horlicks” or “Ohnoitsmymotherinlaw.” As random as this may seem, there are actually many traditions and superstitions associated with naming horses.

Many breeders name their horses to respect its pedigree, which can lead to some unfortunate variations over time. After all, it doesn’t take many generations to twist “Binky” into “Flunky.” Naming a horse after a family member is generally avoided, because if the horse you named after your mother turns out to be a failure, Mom probably isn’t going to be too happy. Many owners prefer powerful names like “Man O’War,” because it is believed this brings the horse good fortune in the races. On the other hand, naming a horse “The Winner” is a sure fire way to create a horse that will never win a race in its life, so some owners just decide to have a bit of fun with the name.

Of course, there are also actual rules governing the naming tradition. Otherwise, a horse race program would read like a list of the usernames of a particularly insane Internet discussion forum. These rules vary depending on your area. For instance, The Jockey Club of Louisville limits name length to 18 characters; forbids names that are obscene, racist, or too similar to actively competing horses; and does not allow names that are entirely made of numbers. If a horse gets famous enough, its name might be pulled from use altogether, much in the same way some sports retire the numbers of particularly legendary athletes.

3 Arabian Horses

Most horses can be quite beautiful creatures when they put their mind to it, but many people consider the Arabian horse the most majestic of all. We know that they first appeared at least 4,500 years ago, which also makes them one of the oldest horse breeds. It is generally assumed that the Bedouin, who are noted for their passion for horse breeding, are behind the creation of the Arabian breed.

With its wiry, “desert” look and immediately recognizable silhouette, an Arab horse is easy to tell apart from other breeds. As peculiar as its high-tailed look and unique head shape are, things actually get even stranger when you look a little deeper. Arabian horses have a skeletal structure that is quite different from all other horses. Its ribs are much wider, stronger, and deeper, and it usually has one fewer horses normally have. It also has fewer lumbar bones and tail vertebrae. These “missing pieces” do nothing to slow it down, though—Arab horses are considered some of the strongest endurance runners in animal kingdom, capable of running over 160 kilometers (100 mi) without rest.

2 Horse Meat

Despite recent scandals that indicate otherwise, horse meat is considered a delicacy in many countries. France in particular is extremely partial not only to horse meat, but also horse brains and horse heart. The French are not alone, either. In fact, horses have been eaten as long as they’ve been around. During times of war, horses have served as an important—and relatively cheap—source of protein. In times of peace, it’s eaten because it just happens to taste good.

The only countries that have never really managed to jump in the hippophage (horse-eater) wagon are also the two most influential English-speaking ones. Despite the fact that both the US and the UK are among the biggest horse meat exporters in the world, both historically scoff at horse meat as food. As such, what is not exported is usually used as pet food.

1 Memory

Have you ever laughed at a horse with a funny name? Or made fun of one when it twists its face in flehmen? If you have, that’s too bad—that horse may well remember your insult for the rest of its life.

A 2010 study revealed some very surprising results about horse intelligence, especially memory. Not only does our equine friend understand our words far better than we have previously anticipated, its memory is at least as good as that of an elephant. If a horse is treated kindly, it will remember the person as a friend for as long as it lives. The horse will instantly resume friendship when it sees them again, regardless of how long they have been apart. They also remember places very well—most horses become nervous when they’re taken to a place where they’ve had a startling experience.

The good memory and relatively powerful intellect of horses is not always a good thing, though. If they get bored, they can accidentally figure out how to untie themselves from posts and open latches and grain bins. Once they learn these methods of mischief, they’ll never, ever forget.


Originally Published with Photos:   http://listverse.com/2014/01/22/10-fascinating-facts-about-horses/

Understanding Horse Behaviour

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The first step to building a strong relationship with your horse is to understand why he is the way he is, what makes him react the way he does and basically- how the world looks from his eyes. A horse is not a human and to try applying the rules that govern our human society to the equine world is not only foolhardy and dangerous, but it is also cruel.

It may not make sense to us why he does some of the things he does, but to him it makes perfect sense. This is why we need to understand horse psychology in order understand our horse and once we understand him, maybe then and only then can we begin to teach and train him.

Today we will begin to explain the dynamic that is the horse and his herd.

Understanding Horse Behaviour

Horses originally lived on wide open plains and would spread out to graze a long way from one another.  The best way to communicate quietly and quickly when you’re a prey animal in such a situation is with body signals.

Horses developed small signals rather than sounds to communicate with each other.  When we learn to recognise what these signals mean, we too can understand horse behaviour.

Horses Don’t Tell Lies

Horses don’t lie to one another. When one horse wants another to move away, he will use a series of signals, until he gets what he wants. He may start with a look, a twitch of the ear or a flick of the tail. If that doesn’t work, he will threaten to bite or kick and will carry out that threat if necessary.

Each horse knows that after the threat will come the action. The other horse has a choice. He can stand his ground and get kicked- or he can move off.


Because we know there are certain facts that are true about horses as a species, we need to consider some facts and how these relate directly to what we observe our horses doing. These facts lead to a series of practical applications that we use in riding, training and communicating with our horses. Lets begin!

FACT: Horses are prey animals.
Which means that their instinct is to run away from danger and not seek it out. They avoid aggression towards things that they think might endanger their lives. This instinct to run is their “means for survival”. It has made their bodies and senses develop in such a way, that when they sense danger, their bodies can react quickly and …run fast.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION: By exposing a horse to a multitude of experiences in a positive way, the horse learns to distinguish that which is life threatening and that which is just new and curious. If on the other hand, a horse reacts by trying to run or avoid something and we react with fear or anger, this reinforces the notion that every time he sees this “something” he will associate it negatively and want to run or get away even more. We are reinforcing negative horse behaviour.

FACT: Because horses have many predators they have a very keenly developed sense of:

  1. 1.     Hearing 
  2. 2.     Sight 
  3. 3.     Smell
  4. 4.     Awareness of movement under foot.

With these keenly developed senses, horses may react to things that are not perceptible to us. People call this ‘spooking’ or ‘shying’. The person may not see or sense what the horse is reacting to and negatively reacts to the horse’s action.

It is essential for good communication to know whether the horse is ‘reacting’ instinctively or ‘acting’ disobedient.

FACT: Horses can sense fear.
If a horse senses fear or indecision in a human he will feel threatened and fearful himself. This will lead to the horse challenging the human and ultimately negative horse-behavior.

It is crucial for the trainer or handler to “feel” confident (not fearful) in the presence of horses.

FACT: Horses are most vulnerable when they are eating or drinking.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION: The horse is most approachable when he lowers his head, chews softly and simulates eating. This is because in the wild horses will only put their heads down and graze if they ‘feel’ safe. When communicating with a horse, you know that the horse has “understood”, or is comfortable with what is going on, when he demonstrates positive horse-behavior as in lowering his head, chewing softly etc.

FACT:  Horses are animals of habit that have GREAT memories.
This can work in a positive or negative way for us. They remember the good AND the bad and categorize things into something that causes fear and pain or something that doesn’t.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION: In order to try to adapt a horse to a man made environment he needs to be exposed to it in a way that will leave fear-less and pain-less memories and promote positive horse-behavior.

 FACT: Horses are inherently curious.
Horses are willing to check out new and unusual things that seem interesting but not threatening. In order to survive they know instinctively that they cannot run from everything forever. It is the curiosity inherent in horse-behavior that allows us to teach them and allows them to learn (not unlike children).

PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Good training techniques take advantage of this curiosity and the horse’s willingness to observe new things.

 FACT:  Horses live in herds that have a very sophisticated social order.
Each herd is lead by mare who is at the top of the ‘pecking’ order. This dominant mare is usually older and wiser. She is the one that controls the herd’s eating, traveling and drinking. She also signals when she senses danger and it is time to flee.

When living in herds, young horses and less experienced ones, will learn from the dominant mare what to flee from and what to ignore.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION: When we bring an untrained horse into the man made environment we must substitute for the dominant mare. We need to teach the horse to ignore or associate positively to certain, smells, noises and things that they see.
To train a horse the horse must be willing to accept the trainer as the dominant herd member.

FACT:  After the dominant mare, the rest of the herd is also divided into a social order or “pecking order”.
Again wisdom, age, (as long as the horse is not physically feeble) and respect determine this.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION: The higher up in the pecking order a human finds himself in his horse’s ‘herd’ the more successful he will be in communicating with the horse and altering the ‘instinctive’ horse-behavior.

**When in a situation where there is not a dominant mare, a stallion or gelding may take over as the dominant horse. But the same is true about portraying wisdom, respect and security. 

FACT:  Dominance among horses is not determined by aggressive behavior.
Aggressive horse-behavior is usually punished by ostracizing the herd member to the periphery of the herd where he is in most danger.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Aggressive behavior in humans towards horses produce fearful ‘hard to handle horses’ that can become dangerous to humans.

FACT:  Dominance in a herd is demonstrated by one horse being able to make another horse move OR stop it from moving.
This is accomplished through different methods of communication mainly body language. Biting and kicking may occur when the dominant horse is challenged by the other horse not moving, or responding aggressively.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION: This ability to control the movement (stop or go) of a horse is another key ingredient in a trainer’s ability to obtain respect and the higher position in the pecking order.

FACT:  Body language is the way horses communicate. A prick of the ear, a position of the head etc.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION: The ability to read this body language and control your own body language is important to be able to communicate successfully.



Originally Published with Photo:   http://passionforhorses.ca/understanding-horse-behaviour


Experience: my horse saved me from a raging cow

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It was a beautiful summer’s day, towards the end of July. I was busy in the kitchen of my Castle Douglas farmhouse, making tea for my two-year-old niece, Zara, and husband, Matt, who was working on our second dairy farm a mile away. Matt phoned to ask me to move a cow and its calf out of the paddock, which is only about 200 meters from the house, as there were other cows about to give birth there. Thinking nothing of it, I left Zara watching a DVD, with some potatoes simmering on the stove for tea as I assumed I’d just be briefly popping out.

Raging Cow Story

The thing is with dairy cows, you have to separate the mothers from their calves when they are very young. It sounds horrible, but this is just what happens on a farm. You walk the two of them down to a special calf house, but then the mother is returned, on her own, to the milking parlour. So I began to walk behind the two-day-old calf to cross over the field. It was a little thing with its back reaching my knees, its head thigh high. Normally we’d expect the mother to just happily follow.

As they are nosey creatures, the other five cows in the paddock, all waiting to give birth, had gathered to saunter around the calf. Although I was huddled in by huge cows (I could just see over their enormous backs), I wasn’t alarmed as dairy cows are notoriously placid. I’m used to gently shifting them on with a pat. But as I was trying to move the calf, they became a bit flighty.

The confused calf started to bellow. Its three-year-old mother, in a panic, ploughed into my left side. With her head she butted my shoulder, knocking me to the ground.

I’m a townie, but at that point in my life I’d been working with cows for more than 20 years. I’d always felt safe around them but now I became very wary. I’d been taught that once someone is on the ground dairy cows have been known to group together and attack en masse – to kill. I knew I had to be on my feet.

But the cow wouldn’t let me get back up. She kept pushing me back into the ground with her head. I was screaming but there was no one around to hear me. I shouted and tried to hit the beast’s face, but she was so powerful I couldn’t push her away.

The cow, 600kg and angry, was intent on attacking me. If I could have reached the barbed wire and electric fence about 15ft away I’d be safe, but she wouldn’t let me move. She was straddling me, and all I could see was her massive body looming over me. Instinctively, I knew she was about to crush me. Terrified, I realised that escape was impossible, so I just gave up. All I could do was curl up into a little ball. I tucked my head under my arms to protect my neck, as I couldn’t bear the idea of the cow breaking it.

But then the cow moved away. I was stunned to see that my horse, Kerry Gold (who’d been in the same paddock), had galloped over and started kicking the cow with her back hooves. Recognising I was in trouble, she continued to lash out at the cow as I crawled away to safety under the electric fence. The cow left and Kerry stood protectively beside me as I cowered under the fence. My back was painful and I was sore all over, bruised and in tears. I needed to check on my niece, but was too scared to move. I stayed there for about a quarter of an hour until Matt, whom I’d managed to ring from the mobile I was carrying, came to help. Luckily, Zara, absorbed in her DVD, remained oblivious to it all.

I was tearful for days after, but had no lasting injuries – just cuts and bruises and a tender back. We rewarded Kerry Gold with extra apples and carrots, and she continued to protect me, and anyone else who entered her field, by walking along beside them like a bodyguard. It has been eight years since the incident – Kerry Gold died two years ago.

At the time, I suggested to my husband we have the cow shot. He disagreed – after all, it was one of his best.


Originally Published with Photo:   http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/nov/21/experience-my-horse-saved-me-from-raging-cow

Budweiser shows off newest Clydesdale

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Just in time for the super bowl, the Budweiser Clydesdales have a new family member.

The first foal of 2016, Mac, was born Tuesday at Warm Springs Ranch in Boonville, Missouri.

Anheuser-Busch says ‘Mac’s name is a nod to the iconic legacy of the Budweiser Clydesdales, the most macro of all icons.

The name also serves to acknowledge the brand’s tag line, “proudly a macro beer.”

Mac will live at Warm Springs with a herd of 160 other Anheuser-Busch’s Clydesdales.

In a Facebook post, the ranch says both mom and baby are happy and healthy.

Mac Pony 1

Mac Pony 2



Originally Published with Photos:   http://www.ktvu.com/news/82802470-story

Family saves baby wild horse ‘Jazz’, forms ‘amazing’ bond

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On Oct. 5, 2011, a little foal who became known as Jazz was born at the BLM holding facility in Delta, Utah. His mother had been brought there after a roundup of wild horses in Nevada six months earlier. But a week after giving birth, she died. Jazz became an orphan.

Jazz the baby horse

Fortunately, Eric Reid, the facility’s manager and a wild horse and burro specialist, spotted Jazz’s mother as he was closing for the night. He knew he had little time to save the young horse, who needed milk every 3 hours. So he called his wife, Lisa, and asked if she would care for the foal until a foster home could be found.

That evening, as Eric pulled in to the drive, Lisa and their two girls hurried out to see what was in the trailer.

They saw a frightened little foal, red with a big white blaze covering his face.

“He looked at us and we looked at him, sizing up each other on what the weeks ahead had in store,” Lisa remembers. She made a bottle, while Eric built a small pen in the backyard by the door.

“Little did I know that having a young foal would require as much attention as a young baby, feeding every three hours, regardless!” Lisa says. “Your mother mode automatically kicks in wondering is the baby hungry, is he cold?”

Worried about how Jazz would feel his first night without his mother, Lisa retrieved her old horse’s winter blanket from the barn. The family quickly settled into a routine, with someone feeding Jazz every 3 hours. Still worried that the horse was cold at night, Lisa dug through her closet and found a new sweatshirt, cut an opening in front, and draped it over his body.

Then, the challenge became to find a name for what Lisa calls “the little horse who so easily stole our hearts.”

“Thunder? Secretariat? Blaze? No, Jazz,” Lisa recalls. “He had the cutest jazzy personality and willingness to please that it just fit him well.”

The hardest decision, Lisa said, came when Jazz was healthy enough for the family to follow through on finding him a foster home. But by the end of October, she had found a family and the perfect home.

“They couldn’t believe how small yet so precious he was,” Lisa says. “I cried as I handed over his lead rope to his new foster parents. It’s just amazing how much my family and I had bonded to this beautiful little soul in such a short amount of time.”

BLM is hoping to get more Americans to adopt wild horses, especially the youngest horses captured during the roundups. You can learn more about the program here.

Lisa Reid, a public affairs specialist for the agency, says: “I do this job because I love these horses and all that they stand for. One person, one horse at a time, can make a difference.”


Originally Published with Photo:   http://www.today.com/pets/family-saves-baby-wild-horse-forms-amazing-bond-1C9223906

Beautiful mane. . .

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Ladies, don’t you wish our hair was as beautiful as this horses mane? Absolutely gorgeous!

White horse 1White horse 2White horse 3White horse 4White horse 5




Photo credit:   https://www.facebook.com/thehairyhorse?pnref=story

Irene Valenti hosts Rancho Santa Fe Rotary Club ‘Taste of RSF” appreciation reception.

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Irene Valenti hosted the third annual Rotary Club of Rancho Santa Fe’s Celebration and Wine Pairing event at the Valenti Estate in Rancho Santa Fe on Oct. 12.

Taste of RSF Rotary

Guests were the sponsors of the Taste of Rancho Santa Fe 2015 and the membership of the Rancho Santa Fe Rotary Club, which was held Oct. 11 at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe.

The event at the Valenti estate was co-chaired by RSF Rotarian members Heather Manion and Jamie Palizban. Proceeds from the Taste of Rancho Santa Fe support these nonprofits: San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, Women’s Empowerment International, ConectMed International, Miracle Babies, The Vision For Children Foundation, Voices For Children, STEP, JC Cooley Foundation, RSF Community Center, RSF Rotary Foundation.

The event included wine tasting from Navarro Vineyards, 2 Plank Vineyards, Oakville Ranch, Quigly Fine Wines, Ganon Cellars, Powell Mountain Cellars, Vinemark Cellars, Balletto, Cairdean Estate, Coomber Family Ranch, CM Winery, Falkner Winery, Darms Lane, among a variety of additional vendors.

Valenti, the CEO of Valenti International and a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow, is acknowledged as the relationship expert for discriminating professionals. Founded 23 years ago, the company continues to grow and evolve to meet the needs of cosmopolitan single men and women. Call 858-759-9239 or visit www.valentiinternational.com.



Originally Published with Photo: http://www.ranchosantafereview.com/news/2015/nov/08/rotary-club-irene-valenti/