Recently it’s dawned on me that I’ve been quite ignorant in not continuing to learn more about my favourite things in the world, horses. When you’ve been riding for 20 years it’s easy to be lazy. In light of this, I decided to do some reading and as a result here’s five interesting facts that I found out recently.
1. A horse has a great memory
While some may find this obvious, I was surprised to learn just how good a horse’s memory is. Research has show that the memory of a horse is nearly as good as that of an elephant.
2. The horse eye & vision
A horses eye is the largest of any land mamal and its visual abilities are directly related to its behaviour. When it comes to vision, a horses head position is important. A horse will raise or lower its head to increase its range of binocular vision. When you ask your horse to go “on the bit” your horse’s visual field is lowered. This causes your horse to focus less on distant objects and more on the immediate ground in front of him.
During jumping, it’s important that a rider allows their horse to raise its head several strides before the jump. This will allow the horse to fully focus on the fence and ensure an appropriate take off point is established.
3. Horse Behaviour – Fight & Flight
It’s well known that horses have a “flight or fight” reaction. However, have you ever seen them fight? A horses first reaction to a threat is often to flee. Horses will normally only stand their ground and fight in circumstances such as when the need arises to protect their foals.
4. Horses & Humans
Humans are instictively viewed by horses as potential predators. However, horses are also innately curious and may investigate any creature that is interesting but doesn’t appear threatening. A horse is also very willing to learn, which explains why they are so trainable. Bad horse behaviour most usually directly correlates to poor training and handling (i.e caused by humans!).
A horse is able to sleep standing up because of a “stay apparatus” in their legs which allows them to relax their muscles and doze without collapsing. Horses do not need a solid unbroken period of sleep time. They obtain needed sleep by many short periods of rest.