The horse (Equus ferus caballus)[2][3] is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus. It is an odd-toed ungulate mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. 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, such as the endangered Przewalski's horse, a separate subspecies, and the only remaining true wild horse. There is an extensive, specialized vocabulary used to describe equine-related concepts, covering everything from anatomy to life stages, size, colors, markings, breeds, locomotion, and behavior.

Horses' anatomy enables them to make use of speed to escape predators and they have a well-developed 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.[4] 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 saddle or in 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.

Horses and humans interact in a wide variety of sport competitions and non-competitive recreational pursuits, as well as in working activities such as police work, agriculture, entertainment, and therapy. Horses were historically used in warfare, from which a wide variety of riding and driving techniques developed, using many different styles of equipment and methods of control. Many products are derived from horses, including meat, milk, hide, hair, bone, and pharmaceuticals extracted from the urine of pregnant mares. Humans provide domesticated horses with food, water and shelter, as well as attention from specialists such as veterinarians and farriers.

Two Nokota horses standing in open grassland with rolling hills and trees visible in the background.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Perissodactyla
Family: Equidae
Genus: Equus
E. f. caballus
Trinomial name
Equus ferus caballus

at least 48 published


Points of a horse
Points of a horse[5][6]

Specific terms and specialized language are used to describe equine anatomy, different life stages, colors and breeds.

Lifespan and life stages

Depending on breed, management and environment, the modern domestic horse has a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years.[7] Uncommonly, a few animals live into their 40s and, occasionally, beyond.[8] The oldest verifiable record was "Old Billy", a 19th-century horse that lived to the age of 62.[7] In modern times, Sugar Puff, who had been listed in Guinness World Records as the world's oldest living pony, died in 2007 at age 56.[9]

Regardless of a horse or pony's actual birth date, for most competition purposes a year is added to its age each January 1 of each year in the Northern Hemisphere[7][10] and each August 1 in the Southern Hemisphere.[11] The exception is in endurance riding, where the minimum age to compete is based on the animal's actual calendar age.[12]

The following terminology is used to describe horses of various ages:

  • Foal: A foal of either sex less than one year old. A nursing foal is sometimes called a suckling and a foal that has been weaned is called a weanling.[13] Most domesticated foals are weaned at five to seven months of age, although foals can be weaned at four months with no adverse physical effects.[14]
  • Yearling: A horse of either sex that is between one and two years old.[15]
  • Colt: A male horse under the age of four.[16] A common terminology error is to call any young horse a "colt", when the term actually only refers to young male horses.[17]
  • Filly: A female horse under the age of four.[13]
  • Mare: A female horse four years old and older.[18]
  • Stallion: A non-castrated male horse four years old and older.[19] The term "horse" is sometimes used colloquially to refer specifically to a stallion.[20]
  • Gelding: A castrated male horse of any age.[13]

In horse racing, these definitions may differ: For example, in the British Isles, Thoroughbred horse racing defines colts and fillies as less than five years old.[21] However, Australian Thoroughbred racing defines colts and fillies as less than four years old.[22]

Size and measurement

The height of horses is measured at the highest point of the withers, where the neck meets the back.[23] This point is used because it is a stable point of the anatomy, unlike the head or neck, which move up and down in relation to the body of the horse.

In English-speaking countries, the height of horses is often stated in units of hands and inches: one hand is equal to 4 inches (101.6 mm). The height is expressed as the number of full hands, followed by a point, then the number of additional inches, and ending with the abbreviation "h" or "hh" (for "hands high"). Thus, a horse described as "15.2 h" is 15 hands plus 2 inches, for a total of 62 inches (157.5 cm) in height.[24]

Size varies greatly among horse breeds, as with this full-sized horse and small pony.

The size of horses varies by breed, but also is influenced by nutrition. Light riding horses usually range in height from 14 to 16 hands (56 to 64 inches, 142 to 163 cm) and can weigh from 380 to 550 kilograms (840 to 1,210 lb).[25] Larger riding horses usually start at about 15.2 hands (62 inches, 157 cm) and often are as tall as 17 hands (68 inches, 173 cm), weighing from 500 to 600 kilograms (1,100 to 1,320 lb).[26] Heavy or draft horses are usually at least 16 hands (64 inches, 163 cm) high and can be as tall as 18 hands (72 inches, 183 cm) high. They can weigh from about 700 to 1,000 kilograms (1,540 to 2,200 lb).[27]

The largest horse in recorded history was probably a Shire horse named Mammoth, who was born in 1848. He stood 21.2 14 hands (86.25 inches, 219 cm) high and his peak weight was estimated at 1,524 kilograms (3,360 lb).[28] The current record holder for the world's smallest horse is Thumbelina, a fully mature miniature horse affected by dwarfism. She is 17 in (43 cm) tall and weighs 57 lb (26 kg).[29]


Ponies are taxonomically the same animals as horses. The distinction between a horse and pony is commonly drawn on the basis of height, especially for competition purposes. However, height alone is not dispositive; the difference between horses and ponies may also include aspects of phenotype, including conformation and temperament.

The traditional standard for height of a horse or a pony at maturity is 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm). An animal 14.2 h or over is usually considered to be a horse and one less than 14.2 h a pony,[30] but there are many exceptions to the traditional standard. In Australia, ponies are considered to be those under 14 hands (56 inches, 142 cm).[31] For competition in the Western division of the United States Equestrian Federation, the cutoff is 14.1 hands (57 inches, 145 cm).[32] The International Federation for Equestrian Sports, the world governing body for horse sport, uses metric measurements and defines a pony as being any horse measuring less than 148 centimetres (58.27 in) at the withers without shoes, which is just over 14.2 h, and 149 centimetres (58.66 in), or just over 14.2​12 h, with shoes.[33]

Height is not the sole criterion for distinguishing horses from ponies. Breed registries for horses that typically produce individuals both under and over 14.2 h consider all animals of that breed to be horses regardless of their height.[34] Conversely, some pony breeds may have features in common with horses, and individual animals may occasionally mature at over 14.2 h, but are still considered to be ponies.[35]

Ponies often exhibit thicker manes, tails, and overall coat. They also have proportionally shorter legs, wider barrels, heavier bone, shorter and thicker necks, and short heads with broad foreheads. They may have calmer temperaments than horses and also a high level of intelligence that may or may not be used to cooperate with human handlers.[30] Small size, by itself, is not an exclusive determinant. For example, the Shetland pony which averages 10 hands (40 inches, 102 cm), is considered a pony.[30] Conversely, breeds such as the Falabella and other miniature horses, which can be no taller than 30 inches (76 cm), are classified by their registries as very small horses, not ponies.[36]


Horses have 64 chromosomes.[37] The horse genome was sequenced in 2007. It contains 2.7 billion DNA base pairs,[38] which is larger than the dog genome, but smaller than the human genome or the bovine genome.[39] The map is available to researchers.[40]

Colors and markings

Bay (left) and chestnut (sometimes called "sorrel") are two of the most common coat colors, seen in almost all breeds.

Horses exhibit a diverse array of coat colors and distinctive markings, described by a specialized vocabulary. Often, a horse is classified first by its coat color, before breed or sex.[41] Horses of the same color may be distinguished from one another by white markings,[42] which, along with various spotting patterns, are inherited separately from coat color.[43]

Many genes that create horse coat colors and patterns have been identified. Current genetic tests can identify at least 13 different alleles influencing coat color,[44] and research continues to discover new genes linked to specific traits. The basic coat colors of chestnut and black are determined by the gene controlled by the Melanocortin 1 receptor,[45] also known as the "extension gene" or "red factor,"[44] as its recessive form is "red" (chestnut) and its dominant form is black.[46] Additional genes control suppression of black color to point coloration that results in a bay, spotting patterns such as pinto or leopard, dilution genes such as palomino or dun, as well as graying, and all the other factors that create the many possible coat colors found in horses.[44]

Horses that have a white coat color are often mislabeled; a horse that looks "white" is usually a middle-aged or older gray. Grays are born a darker shade, get lighter as they age, but usually keep black skin underneath their white hair coat (with the exception of pink skin under white markings). The only horses properly called white are born with a predominantly white hair coat and pink skin, a fairly rare occurrence.[46] Different and unrelated genetic factors can produce white coat colors in horses, including several different alleles of dominant white and the sabino-1 gene.[47] However, there are no "albino" horses, defined as having both pink skin and red eyes.[48]

Reproduction and development

Gestation lasts approximately 340 days, with an average range 320–370 days,[49] and usually results in one foal; twins are rare.[50] Horses are a precocial species, and foals are capable of standing and running within a short time following birth.[51] Foals are usually born in the spring. The estrous cycle of a mare occurs roughly every 19–22 days and occurs from early spring into autumn. Most mares enter an anestrus period during the winter and thus do not cycle in this period.[52] Foals are generally weaned from their mothers between four and six months of age.[53]

Horses, particularly colts, sometimes are physically capable of reproduction at about 18 months, but domesticated horses are rarely allowed to breed before the age of three, especially females.[54] Horses four years old are considered mature, although the skeleton normally continues to develop until the age of six; maturation also depends on the horse's size, breed, sex, and quality of care. Larger horses have larger bones; therefore, not only do the bones take longer to form bone tissue, but the epiphyseal plates are larger and take longer to convert from cartilage to bone. These plates convert after the other parts of the bones, and are crucial to development.[55]

Depending on maturity, breed, and work expected, horses are usually put under saddle and trained to be ridden between the ages of two and four.[56] Although Thoroughbred race horses are put on the track as young as the age of two in some countries,[57] horses specifically bred for sports such as dressage are generally not put under saddle until they are three or four years old, because their bones and muscles are not solidly developed.[58] For endurance riding competition, horses are not deemed mature enough to compete until they are a full 60 calendar months (five years) old.[12]


Skeletal system

Horse anatomy
The skeletal system of a modern horse

The horse skeleton averages 205 bones.[59] A significant difference between the horse skeleton and that of a human is the lack of a collarbone—the horse's forelimbs are attached to the spinal column by a powerful set of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that attach the shoulder blade to the torso. The horse's legs and hooves are also unique structures. Their leg bones are proportioned differently from those of a human. For example, the body part that is called a horse's "knee" is actually made up of the carpal bones that correspond to the human wrist. Similarly, the hock contains bones equivalent to those in the human ankle and heel. The lower leg bones of a horse correspond to the bones of the human hand or foot, and the fetlock (incorrectly called the "ankle") is actually the proximal sesamoid bones between the cannon bones (a single equivalent to the human metacarpal or metatarsal bones) and the proximal phalanges, located where one finds the "knuckles" of a human. A horse also has no muscles in its legs below the knees and hocks, only skin, hair, bone, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and the assorted specialized tissues that make up the hoof.[60]


The critical importance of the feet and legs is summed up by the traditional adage, "no foot, no horse".[61] The horse hoof begins with the distal phalanges, the equivalent of the human fingertip or tip of the toe, surrounded by cartilage and other specialized, blood-rich soft tissues such as the laminae. The exterior hoof wall and horn of the sole is made of keratin, the same material as a human fingernail.[62] The end result is that a horse, weighing on average 500 kilograms (1,100 lb),[63] travels on the same bones as would a human on tiptoe.[64] For the protection of the hoof under certain conditions, some horses have horseshoes placed on their feet by a professional farrier. The hoof continually grows, and in most domesticated horses needs to be trimmed (and horseshoes reset, if used) every five to eight weeks,[65] though the hooves of horses in the wild wear down and regrow at a rate suitable for their terrain.


Horses are adapted to grazing. In an adult horse, there are 12 incisors at the front of the mouth, adapted to biting off the grass or other vegetation. There are 24 teeth adapted for chewing, the premolars and molars, at the back of the mouth. Stallions and geldings have four additional teeth just behind the incisors, a type of canine teeth called "tushes". Some horses, both male and female, will also develop one to four very small vestigial teeth in front of the molars, known as "wolf" teeth, which are generally removed because they can interfere with the bit. There is an empty interdental space between the incisors and the molars where the bit rests directly on the gums, or "bars" of the horse's mouth when the horse is bridled.[66]

An estimate of a horse's age can be made from looking at its teeth. The teeth continue to erupt throughout life and are worn down by grazing. Therefore, the incisors show changes as the horse ages; they develop a distinct wear pattern, changes in tooth shape, and changes in the angle at which the chewing surfaces meet. This allows a very rough estimate of a horse's age, although diet and veterinary care can also affect the rate of tooth wear.[7]


Horses are herbivores with a digestive system adapted to a forage diet of grasses and other plant material, consumed steadily throughout the day. Therefore, compared to humans, they have a relatively small stomach but very long intestines to facilitate a steady flow of nutrients. A 450-kilogram (990 lb) horse will eat 7 to 11 kilograms (15 to 24 lb) of food per day and, under normal use, drink 38 to 45 litres (8.4 to 9.9 imp gal; 10 to 12 US gal) of water. Horses are not ruminants, they have only one stomach, like humans, but unlike humans, they can utilize cellulose, a major component of grass. Horses are hindgut fermenters. Cellulose fermentation by symbiotic bacteria occurs in the cecum, or "water gut", which food goes through before reaching the large intestine. Horses cannot vomit, so digestion problems can quickly cause colic, a leading cause of death.[67]


A horse's eye

The horses' senses are based on their status as prey animals, where they must be aware of their surroundings at all times.[68] They have the largest eyes of any land mammal,[69] and are lateral-eyed, meaning that their eyes are positioned on the sides of their heads.[70] This means that horses have a range of vision of more than 350°, with approximately 65° of this being binocular vision and the remaining 285° monocular vision.[69] Horses have excellent day and night vision, but they have two-color, or dichromatic vision; their color vision is somewhat like red-green color blindness in humans, where certain colors, especially red and related colors, appear as a shade of green.[71]

Their sense of smell, while much better than that of humans, is not quite as good as that of a dog. It is believed to play a key role in the social interactions of horses as well as detecting other key scents in the environment. Horses have two olfactory centers. The first system is in the nostrils and nasal cavity, which analyze a wide range of odors. The second, located under the nasal cavity, are the Vomeronasal organs, also called Jacobson's organs. These have a separate nerve pathway to the brain and appear to primarily analyze pheromones.[72]

A horse's hearing is good,[68] and the pinna of each ear can rotate up to 180°, giving the potential for 360° hearing without having to move the head.[73] Noise impacts the behavior of horses and certain kinds of noise may contribute to stress: A 2013 study in the UK indicated that stabled horses were calmest in a quiet setting, or if listening to country or classical music, but displayed signs of nervousness when listening to jazz or rock music. This study also recommended keeping music under a volume of 21 decibels.[74] An Australian study found that stabled racehorses listening to talk radio had a higher rate of gastric ulcers than horses listening to music, and racehorses stabled where a radio was played had a higher overall rate of ulceration than horses stabled where there was no radio playing.[75]

Horses have a great sense of balance, due partly to their ability to feel their footing and partly to highly developed proprioception—the unconscious sense of where the body and limbs are at all times.[76] A horse's sense of touch is well developed. The most sensitive areas are around the eyes, ears, and nose.[77] Horses are able to sense contact as subtle as an insect landing anywhere on the body.[78]

Horses have an advanced sense of taste, which allows them to sort through fodder and choose what they would most like to eat,[79] and their prehensile lips can easily sort even small grains. Horses generally will not eat poisonous plants, however, there are exceptions; horses will occasionally eat toxic amounts of poisonous plants even when there is adequate healthy food.[80]


Muybridge horse walking animated

Walk 5–8 km/h (3.1–5.0 mph)

Trot animated

Trot 8–13 km/h (5.0–8.1 mph)

Muybridge horse pacing animated

Pace 8–13 km/h (5.0–8.1 mph)

Canter animated

Canter 16–27 km/h (9.9–16.8 mph)

Muybridge race horse animated

Gallop 40–48 km/h (25–30 mph), record: 70.76 km/h (43.97 mph)[81]

All horses move naturally with four basic gaits: the four-beat walk, which averages 6.4 kilometres per hour (4.0 mph); the two-beat trot or jog at 13 to 19 kilometres per hour (8.1 to 11.8 mph) (faster for harness racing horses); the canter or lope, a three-beat gait that is 19 to 24 kilometres per hour (12 to 15 mph); and the gallop.[82] The gallop averages 40 to 48 kilometres per hour (25 to 30 mph),[83] but the world record for a horse galloping over a short, sprint distance is 70.76 kilometres per hour (43.97 mph).[81] Besides these basic gaits, some horses perform a two-beat pace, instead of the trot.[84] There also are several four-beat "ambling" gaits that are approximately the speed of a trot or pace, though smoother to ride. These include the lateral rack, running walk, and tölt as well as the diagonal fox trot.[85] Ambling gaits are often genetic in some breeds, known collectively as gaited horses.[86] Often, gaited horses replace the trot with one of the ambling gaits.[87]


Horses are prey animals with a strong fight-or-flight response. Their first reaction to threat is to startle and usually flee, although they will stand their ground and defend themselves when flight is impossible or if their young are threatened.[88] They also tend to be curious; when startled, they will often hesitate an instant to ascertain the cause of their fright, and may not always flee from something that they perceive as non-threatening. Most light horse riding breeds were developed for speed, agility, alertness and endurance; natural qualities that extend from their wild ancestors. However, through selective breeding, some breeds of horses are quite docile, particularly certain draft horses.[89]

Horses are herd animals, with a clear hierarchy of rank, led by a dominant individual, usually a mare. They are also social creatures that are able to form companionship attachments to their own species and to other animals, including humans. They communicate in various ways, including vocalizations such as nickering or whinnying, mutual grooming, and body language. Many horses will become difficult to manage if they are isolated, but with training, horses can learn to accept a human as a companion, and thus be comfortable away from other horses.[90] However, when confined with insufficient companionship, exercise, or stimulation, individuals may develop stable vices, an assortment of bad habits, mostly stereotypies of psychological origin, that include wood chewing, wall kicking, "weaving" (rocking back and forth), and other problems.[91]

Intelligence and learning

Studies have indicated that horses perform a number of cognitive tasks on a daily basis, meeting mental challenges that include food procurement and identification of individuals within a social system. They also have good spatial discrimination abilities.[92] They are naturally curious and apt to investigate things they have not seen before.[93] Studies have assessed equine intelligence in areas such as problem solving, speed of learning, and memory. Horses excel at simple learning, but also are able to use more advanced cognitive abilities that involve categorization and concept learning. They can learn using habituation, desensitization, classical conditioning, and operant conditioning, and positive and negative reinforcement.[92] One study has indicated that horses can differentiate between "more or less" if the quantity involved is less than four.[94]

Domesticated horses may face greater mental challenges than wild horses, because they live in artificial environments that prevent instinctive behavior whilst also learning tasks that are not natural.[92] Horses are animals of habit that respond well to regimentation, and respond best when the same routines and techniques are used consistently. One trainer believes that "intelligent" horses are reflections of intelligent trainers who effectively use response conditioning techniques and positive reinforcement to train in the style that best fits with an individual animal's natural inclinations.[95]


Horses are mammals, and as such are warm-blooded, or endothermic creatures, as opposed to cold-blooded, or poikilothermic animals. However, these words have developed a separate meaning in the context of equine terminology, used to describe temperament, not body temperature. For example, the "hot-bloods", such as many race horses, exhibit more sensitivity and energy,[96] while the "cold-bloods", such as most draft breeds, are quieter and calmer.[97] Sometimes "hot-bloods" are classified as "light horses" or "riding horses",[98] with the "cold-bloods" classified as "draft horses" or "work horses".[99]

Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary b35 043-0
Illustration of assorted breeds; slim, light hotbloods, medium-sized warmbloods and draft and pony-type coldblood breeds

"Hot blooded" breeds include "oriental horses" such as the Akhal-Teke, Arabian horse, Barb and now-extinct Turkoman horse, as well as the Thoroughbred, a breed developed in England from the older oriental breeds.[96] Hot bloods tend to be spirited, bold, and learn quickly. They are bred for agility and speed.[100] They tend to be physically refined—thin-skinned, slim, and long-legged.[101] The original oriental breeds were brought to Europe from the Middle East and North Africa when European breeders wished to infuse these traits into racing and light cavalry horses.[102][103]

Muscular, heavy draft horses are known as "cold bloods", as they are bred not only for strength, but also to have the calm, patient temperament needed to pull a plow or a heavy carriage full of people.[97] They are sometimes nicknamed "gentle giants".[104] Well-known draft breeds include the Belgian and the Clydesdale.[104] Some, like the Percheron, are lighter and livelier, developed to pull carriages or to plow large fields in drier climates.[105] Others, such as the Shire, are slower and more powerful, bred to plow fields with heavy, clay-based soils.[106] The cold-blooded group also includes some pony breeds.[107]

"Warmblood" breeds, such as the Trakehner or Hanoverian, developed when European carriage and war horses were crossed with Arabians or Thoroughbreds, producing a riding horse with more refinement than a draft horse, but greater size and milder temperament than a lighter breed.[108] Certain pony breeds with warmblood characteristics have been developed for smaller riders.[109] Warmbloods are considered a "light horse" or "riding horse".[98]

Today, the term "Warmblood" refers to a specific subset of sport horse breeds that are used for competition in dressage and show jumping.[110] Strictly speaking, the term "warm blood" refers to any cross between cold-blooded and hot-blooded breeds.[111] Examples include breeds such as the Irish Draught or the Cleveland Bay. The term was once used to refer to breeds of light riding horse other than Thoroughbreds or Arabians, such as the Morgan horse.[100]

Sleep patterns

Biandintz eta zaldiak - modified2
When horses lie down to sleep, others in the herd remain standing, awake or in a light doze, keeping watch.

Horses are able to sleep both standing up and lying down. In an adaptation from life in the wild, horses are able to enter light sleep by using a "stay apparatus" in their legs, allowing them to doze without collapsing.[112] Horses sleep better when in groups because some animals will sleep while others stand guard to watch for predators. A horse kept alone will not sleep well because its instincts are to keep a constant eye out for danger.[113]

Unlike humans, horses do not sleep in a solid, unbroken period of time, but take many short periods of rest. Horses spend four to fifteen hours a day in standing rest, and from a few minutes to several hours lying down. Total sleep time in a 24-hour period may range from several minutes to a couple of hours,[113] mostly in short intervals of about 15 minutes each.[114] The average sleep time of a domestic horse is said to be 2.9 hours per day.[115]

Horses must lie down to reach REM sleep. They only have to lie down for an hour or two every few days to meet their minimum REM sleep requirements.[113] However, if a horse is never allowed to lie down, after several days it will become sleep-deprived, and in rare cases may suddenly collapse as it involuntarily slips into REM sleep while still standing.[116] This condition differs from narcolepsy, although horses may also suffer from that disorder.[117]

Taxonomy and evolution

Equine evolution
From left to right: Size development, biometrical changes in the cranium, reduction of toes (left forefoot)

The horse adapted to survive in areas of wide-open terrain with sparse vegetation, surviving in an ecosystem where other large grazing animals, especially ruminants, could not.[118] Horses and other equids are odd-toed ungulates of the order Perissodactyla, a group of mammals that was dominant during the Tertiary period. In the past, this order contained 14 families, but only three—Equidae (the horse and related species), Tapiridae (the tapir), and Rhinocerotidae (the rhinoceroses)—have survived to the present day.[119]

The earliest known member of the family Equidae was the Hyracotherium, which lived between 45 and 55 million years ago, during the Eocene period. It had 4 toes on each front foot, and 3 toes on each back foot.[120] The extra toe on the front feet soon disappeared with the Mesohippus, which lived 32 to 37 million years ago.[121] Over time, the extra side toes shrank in size until they vanished. All that remains of them in modern horses is a set of small vestigial bones on the leg below the knee,[122] known informally as splint bones.[123] Their legs also lengthened as their toes disappeared until they were a hooved animal capable of running at great speed.[122] By about 5 million years ago, the modern Equus had evolved.[124] Equid teeth also evolved from browsing on soft, tropical plants to adapt to browsing of drier plant material, then to grazing of tougher plains grasses. Thus proto-horses changed from leaf-eating forest-dwellers to grass-eating inhabitants of semi-arid regions worldwide, including the steppes of Eurasia and the Great Plains of North America.

By about 15,000 years ago, Equus ferus was a widespread holarctic species. Horse bones from this time period, the late Pleistocene, are found in Europe, Eurasia, Beringia, and North America.[125] Yet between 10,000 and 7,600 years ago, the horse became extinct in North America and rare elsewhere.[126][127][128] The reasons for this extinction are not fully known, but one theory notes that extinction in North America paralleled human arrival.[129] Another theory points to climate change, noting that approximately 12,500 years ago, the grasses characteristic of a steppe ecosystem gave way to shrub tundra, which was covered with unpalatable plants.[130]

Wild species surviving into modern times

France Lozère Causse Méjean Chevaux de Przewalski 20
A small herd of Przewalski's Horses

A truly wild horse is a species or subspecies with no ancestors that were ever domesticated. Therefore, most "wild" horses today are actually feral horses, animals that escaped or were turned loose from domestic herds and the descendants of those animals.[131] Only two never-domesticated subspecies, the Tarpan and the Przewalski's Horse, survived into recorded history and only the latter survives today.

The Przewalski's horse (Equus ferus przewalskii), named after the Russian explorer Nikolai Przhevalsky, is a rare Asian animal. It is also known as the Mongolian wild horse; Mongolian people know it as the taki, and the Kyrgyz people call it a kirtag. The subspecies was presumed extinct in the wild between 1969 and 1992, while a small breeding population survived in zoos around the world. In 1992, it was reestablished in the wild due to the conservation efforts of numerous zoos.[132] Today, a small wild breeding population exists in Mongolia.[133][134] There are additional animals still maintained at zoos throughout the world.

The tarpan or European wild horse (Equus ferus ferus) was found in Europe and much of Asia. It survived into the historical era, but became extinct in 1909, when the last captive died in a Russian zoo.[135] Thus, the genetic line was lost. Attempts have been made to recreate the tarpan,[135][136][137] which resulted in horses with outward physical similarities, but nonetheless descended from domesticated ancestors and not true wild horses.

Periodically, populations of horses in isolated areas are speculated to be relict populations of wild horses, but generally have been proven to be feral or domestic. For example, the Riwoche horse of Tibet was proposed as such,[134] but testing did not reveal genetic differences from domesticated horses.[138] Similarly, the Sorraia of Portugal was proposed as a direct descendant of the Tarpan based on shared characteristics,[139][140] but genetic studies have shown that the Sorraia is more closely related to other horse breeds and that the outward similarity is an unreliable measure of relatedness.[139][141]

Other modern equids

Besides the horse, there are six other species of genus Equus in the Equidae family. These are the ass or donkey, Equus asinus; the mountain zebra, Equus zebra; plains zebra, Equus quagga; Grévy's zebra, Equus grevyi; the kiang, Equus kiang; and the onager, Equus hemionus.[142]

Horses can crossbreed with other members of their genus. The most common hybrid is the mule, a cross between a "jack" (male donkey) and a mare. A related hybrid, a hinny, is a cross between a stallion and a jenny (female donkey).[143] Other hybrids include the zorse, a cross between a zebra and a horse.[144] With rare exceptions, most hybrids are sterile and cannot reproduce.[145]


Bhimbetka rock paintng1
Bhimbetka rock painting showing man riding on horse, India

Domestication of the horse most likely took place in central Asia prior to 3500 BC. Two major sources of information are used to determine where and when the horse was first domesticated and how the domesticated horse spread around the world. The first source is based on palaeological and archaeological discoveries; the second source is a comparison of DNA obtained from modern horses to that from bones and teeth of ancient horse remains.

The earliest archaeological evidence for the domestication of the horse comes from sites in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, dating to approximately 3500–4000 BC.[146][147][148] By 3000 BC, the horse was completely domesticated and by 2000 BC there was a sharp increase in the number of horse bones found in human settlements in northwestern Europe, indicating the spread of domesticated horses throughout the continent.[149] The most recent, but most irrefutable evidence of domestication comes from sites where horse remains were interred with chariots in graves of the Sintashta and Petrovka cultures c. 2100 BC.[150]

Domestication is also studied by using the genetic material of present-day horses and comparing it with the genetic material present in the bones and teeth of horse remains found in archaeological and palaeological excavations. The variation in the genetic material shows that very few wild stallions contributed to the domestic horse,[151][152] while many mares were part of early domesticated herds.[141][153][154] This is reflected in the difference in genetic variation between the DNA that is passed on along the paternal, or sire line (Y-chromosome) versus that passed on along the maternal, or dam line (mitochondrial DNA). There are very low levels of Y-chromosome variability,[151][152] but a great deal of genetic variation in mitochondrial DNA.[141][153][154] There is also regional variation in mitochondrial DNA due to the inclusion of wild mares in domestic herds.[141][153][154][155] Another characteristic of domestication is an increase in coat color variation.[156] In horses, this increased dramatically between 5000 and 3000 BC.[157]

Before the availability of DNA techniques to resolve the questions related to the domestication of the horse, various hypotheses were proposed. One classification was based on body types and conformation, suggesting the presence of four basic prototypes that had adapted to their environment prior to domestication.[107] Another hypothesis held that the four prototypes originated from a single wild species and that all different body types were entirely a result of selective breeding after domestication.[158] However, the lack of a detectable substructure in the horse has resulted in a rejection of both hypotheses.

Feral populations

Feral horses are born and live in the wild, but are descended from domesticated animals.[131] Many populations of feral horses exist throughout the world.[159][160] Studies of feral herds have provided useful insights into the behavior of prehistoric horses,[161] as well as greater understanding of the instincts and behaviors that drive horses that live in domesticated conditions.[162]

There are also semi-feral horses in many parts of the world, such as Dartmoor and the New Forest in the UK, where the animals are all privately owned but live for significant amounts of time in "wild" conditions on undeveloped, often public, lands. Owners of such animals often pay a fee for grazing rights.[163][164]


The concept of purebred bloodstock and a controlled, written breed registry has come to be particularly significant and important in modern times. Sometimes purebred horses are incorrectly or inaccurately called "thoroughbreds". Thoroughbred is a specific breed of horse, while a "purebred" is a horse (or any other animal) with a defined pedigree recognized by a breed registry.[165] Horse breeds are groups of horses with distinctive characteristics that are transmitted consistently to their offspring, such as conformation, color, performance ability, or disposition. These inherited traits result from a combination of natural crosses and artificial selection methods. Horses have been selectively bred since their domestication. An early example of people who practiced selective horse breeding were the Bedouin, who had a reputation for careful practices, keeping extensive pedigrees of their Arabian horses and placing great value upon pure bloodlines.[166] These pedigrees were originally transmitted via an oral tradition.[167] In the 14th century, Carthusian monks of southern Spain kept meticulous pedigrees of bloodstock lineages still found today in the Andalusian horse.[168]

Breeds developed due to a need for "form to function", the necessity to develop certain characteristics in order to perform a particular type of work.[169] Thus, a powerful but refined breed such as the Andalusian developed as riding horses with an aptitude for dressage.[169] Heavy draft horses developed out of a need to perform demanding farm work and pull heavy wagons.[170] Other horse breeds developed specifically for light agricultural work, carriage and road work, various sport disciplines, or simply as pets.[171] Some breeds developed through centuries of crossing other breeds, while others descended from a single foundation sire, or other limited or restricted foundation bloodstock. One of the earliest formal registries was General Stud Book for Thoroughbreds, which began in 1791 and traced back to the foundation bloodstock for the breed.[172] There are more than 300 horse breeds in the world today.[173]

Interaction with humans

Three Counties Equine Hospital - - 1770200
Equine hospital in the United Kingdom

Worldwide, horses play a role within human cultures and have done so for millennia. The genetic makeup of the human population in a geographical area is affected by the presence or absence of horses (more variation in Africa, less in Eurasian steppes). Societies where horse riding is an integral part of life have developed traditional attires specially suited for horse riding such as tightly wrapping waistbands or cummerbunds giving wide support useful for protecting the spine during long journeys, and voluminous headgear such as turban to protect the skull during falls from the horse. Horses are used for leisure activities, sports, and working purposes. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that in 2008, there were almost 59,000,000 horses in the world, with around 33,500,000 in the Americas, 13,800,000 in Asia and 6,300,000 in Europe and smaller portions in Africa and Oceania. There are estimated to be 9,500,000 horses in the United States alone.[174] The American Horse Council estimates that horse-related activities have a direct impact on the economy of the United States of over $39 billion, and when indirect spending is considered, the impact is over $102 billion.[175] In a 2004 "poll" conducted by Animal Planet, more than 50,000 viewers from 73 countries voted for the horse as the world's 4th favorite animal.[176]

Communication between human and horse is paramount in any equestrian activity;[177] to aid this process horses are usually ridden with a saddle on their backs to assist the rider with balance and positioning, and a bridle or related headgear to assist the rider in maintaining control.[178] Sometimes horses are ridden without a saddle,[179] and occasionally, horses are trained to perform without a bridle or other headgear.[180] Many horses are also driven, which requires a harness, bridle, and some type of vehicle.[181]


Beijing2008 HOKETSU Hiroshi
A horse and rider in dressage competition at the Olympics

Historically, equestrians honed their skills through games and races. Equestrian sports provided entertainment for crowds and honed the excellent horsemanship that was needed in battle. Many sports, such as dressage, eventing and show jumping, have origins in military training, which were focused on control and balance of both horse and rider. Other sports, such as rodeo, developed from practical skills such as those needed on working ranches and stations. Sport hunting from horseback evolved from earlier practical hunting techniques.[177] Horse racing of all types evolved from impromptu competitions between riders or drivers. All forms of competition, requiring demanding and specialized skills from both horse and rider, resulted in the systematic development of specialized breeds and equipment for each sport. The popularity of equestrian sports through the centuries has resulted in the preservation of skills that would otherwise have disappeared after horses stopped being used in combat.[177]

Horses are trained to be ridden or driven in a variety of sporting competitions. Examples include show jumping, dressage, three-day eventing, competitive driving, endurance riding, gymkhana, rodeos, and fox hunting.[182] Horse shows, which have their origins in medieval European fairs, are held around the world. They host a huge range of classes, covering all of the mounted and harness disciplines, as well as "In-hand" classes where the horses are led, rather than ridden, to be evaluated on their conformation. The method of judging varies with the discipline, but winning usually depends on style and ability of both horse and rider.[183] Sports such as polo do not judge the horse itself, but rather use the horse as a partner for human competitors as a necessary part of the game. Although the horse requires specialized training to participate, the details of its performance are not judged, only the result of the rider's actions—be it getting a ball through a goal or some other task.[184] Examples of these sports of partnership between human and horse include jousting, in which the main goal is for one rider to unseat the other,[185] and buzkashi, a team game played throughout Central Asia, the aim being to capture a goat carcass while on horseback.[184]

Horse racing is an equestrian sport and major international industry, watched in almost every nation of the world. There are three types: "flat" racing; steeplechasing, i.e. racing over jumps; and harness racing, where horses trot or pace while pulling a driver in a small, light cart known as a sulky.[186] A major part of horse racing's economic importance lies in the gambling associated with it.[187]


Policja konna Poznań
A mounted police officer in Poland

There are certain jobs that horses do very well, and no technology has yet developed to fully replace them. For example, mounted police horses are still effective for certain types of patrol duties and crowd control.[188] Cattle ranches still require riders on horseback to round up cattle that are scattered across remote, rugged terrain.[189] Search and rescue organizations in some countries depend upon mounted teams to locate people, particularly hikers and children, and to provide disaster relief assistance.[190] Horses can also be used in areas where it is necessary to avoid vehicular disruption to delicate soil, such as nature reserves. They may also be the only form of transport allowed in wilderness areas. Horses are quieter than motorized vehicles. Law enforcement officers such as park rangers or game wardens may use horses for patrols, and horses or mules may also be used for clearing trails or other work in areas of rough terrain where vehicles are less effective.[191]

Tanga (carriage) at Darbhanga Bihar
Tanga (carriage) at Darbhanga Bihar

Although machinery has replaced horses in many parts of the world, an estimated 100 million horses, donkeys and mules are still used for agriculture and transportation in less developed areas. This number includes around 27 million working animals in Africa alone.[192] Some land management practices such as cultivating and logging can be efficiently performed with horses. In agriculture, less fossil fuel is used and increased environmental conservation occurs over time with the use of draft animals such as horses.[193][194] Logging with horses can result in reduced damage to soil structure and less damage to trees due to more selective logging.[195]


Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1970-073-17, Türkische Kavallerie südlich von Jerusalem
Turkish cavalry, 1917
Napoleon i Poniatowski Lipsk
A bloated dead horse on the ground in front of Napoleon and Poniatowski at the Battle of Leipzig, painted by January Suchodolski

Horses have been used in warfare for most of recorded history. The first archaeological evidence of horses used in warfare dates to between 4000 and 3000 BC,[196] and the use of horses in warfare was widespread by the end of the Bronze Age.[197][198] Although mechanization has largely replaced the horse as a weapon of war, horses are still seen today in limited military uses, mostly for ceremonial purposes, or for reconnaissance and transport activities in areas of rough terrain where motorized vehicles are ineffective. Horses have been used in the 21st century by the Janjaweed militias in the War in Darfur.[199]

Entertainment and culture

The horse-headed deity in Hinduism, Hayagriva

Modern horses are often used to reenact many of their historical work purposes. Horses are used, complete with equipment that is authentic or a meticulously recreated replica, in various live action historical reenactments of specific periods of history, especially recreations of famous battles.[200] Horses are also used to preserve cultural traditions and for ceremonial purposes. Countries such as the United Kingdom still use horse-drawn carriages to convey royalty and other VIPs to and from certain culturally significant events.[201] Public exhibitions are another example, such as the Budweiser Clydesdales, seen in parades and other public settings, a team of draft horses that pull a beer wagon similar to that used before the invention of the modern motorized truck.[202]

Horses are frequently used in television, films and literature. They are sometimes featured as a major character in films about particular animals, but also used as visual elements that assure the accuracy of historical stories.[203] Both live horses and iconic images of horses are used in advertising to promote a variety of products.[204] The horse frequently appears in coats of arms in heraldry, in a variety of poses and equipment.[205] The mythologies of many cultures, including Greco-Roman, Hindu, Islamic, and Norse, include references to both normal horses and those with wings or additional limbs, and multiple myths also call upon the horse to draw the chariots of the Moon and Sun.[206] The horse also appears in the 12-year cycle of animals in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar.[207]

Therapeutic use

People of all ages with physical and mental disabilities obtain beneficial results from association with horses. Therapeutic riding is used to mentally and physically stimulate disabled persons and help them improve their lives through improved balance and coordination, increased self-confidence, and a greater feeling of freedom and independence.[208] The benefits of equestrian activity for people with disabilities has also been recognized with the addition of equestrian events to the Paralympic Games and recognition of para-equestrian events by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI).[209] Hippotherapy and therapeutic horseback riding are names for different physical, occupational, and speech therapy treatment strategies that utilize equine movement. In hippotherapy, a therapist uses the horse's movement to improve their patient's cognitive, coordination, balance, and fine motor skills, whereas therapeutic horseback riding uses specific riding skills.[210]

Horses also provide psychological benefits to people whether they actually ride or not. "Equine-assisted" or "equine-facilitated" therapy is a form of experiential psychotherapy that uses horses as companion animals to assist people with mental illness, including anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, mood disorders, behavioral difficulties, and those who are going through major life changes.[211] There are also experimental programs using horses in prison settings. Exposure to horses appears to improve the behavior of inmates and help reduce recidivism when they leave.[212]


Horses are raw material for many products made by humans throughout history, including byproducts from the slaughter of horses as well as materials collected from living horses.

Products collected from living horses include mare's milk, used by people with large horse herds, such as the Mongols, who let it ferment to produce kumis.[213] Horse blood was once used as food by the Mongols and other nomadic tribes, who found it a convenient source of nutrition when traveling. Drinking their own horses' blood allowed the Mongols to ride for extended periods of time without stopping to eat.[213] The drug Premarin is a mixture of estrogens extracted from the urine of pregnant mares (pregnant mares' urine), and was previously a widely used drug for hormone replacement therapy.[214] The tail hair of horses can be used for making bows for string instruments such as the violin, viola, cello, and double bass.[215]

Horse meat has been used as food for humans and carnivorous animals throughout the ages. It is eaten in many parts of the world, though consumption is taboo in some cultures,[216] and a subject of political controversy in others.[217] Horsehide leather has been used for boots, gloves, jackets,[218] baseballs,[219] and baseball gloves. Horse hooves can also be used to produce animal glue.[220] Horse bones can be used to make implements.[221] Specifically, in Italian cuisine, the horse tibia is sharpened into a probe called a spinto, which is used to test the readiness of a (pig) ham as it cures.[222] In Asia, the saba is a horsehide vessel used in the production of kumis.[223]

Checking teeth and other physical examinations are an important part of horse care.

Horses are grazing animals, and their major source of nutrients is good-quality forage from hay or pasture.[224] They can consume approximately 2% to 2.5% of their body weight in dry feed each day. Therefore, a 450-kilogram (990 lb) adult horse could eat up to 11 kilograms (24 lb) of food.[225] Sometimes, concentrated feed such as grain is fed in addition to pasture or hay, especially when the animal is very active.[226] When grain is fed, equine nutritionists recommend that 50% or more of the animal's diet by weight should still be forage.[227]

Horses require a plentiful supply of clean water, a minimum of 10 US gallons (38 L) to 12 US gallons (45 L) per day.[228] Although horses are adapted to live outside, they require shelter from the wind and precipitation, which can range from a simple shed or shelter to an elaborate stable.[229]

Horses require routine hoof care from a farrier, as well as vaccinations to protect against various diseases, and dental examinations from a veterinarian or a specialized equine dentist.[230] If horses are kept inside in a barn, they require regular daily exercise for their physical health and mental well-being.[231] When turned outside, they require well-maintained, sturdy fences to be safely contained.[232] Regular grooming is also helpful to help the horse maintain good health of the hair coat and underlying skin.[233]

See also


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Further reading

  • Chamberlin, J. Edward (2006). Horse: How the Horse Has Shaped Civilizations. New York: Bluebridge. ISBN 978-0-9742405-9-6. OCLC 61704732.

External links

Arabian horse

The Arabian or Arab horse (Arabic: الحصان العربي‎ [ ħisˤaːn ʕarabiː], DMG ḥiṣān ʿarabī) is a breed of horse that originated on the Arabian Peninsula. With a distinctive head shape and high tail carriage, the Arabian is one of the most easily recognizable horse breeds in the world. It is also one of the oldest breeds, with archaeological evidence of horses in the Middle East that resemble modern Arabians dating back 4,500 years. Throughout history, Arabian horses have spread around the world by both war and trade, used to improve other breeds by adding speed, refinement, endurance, and strong bone. Today, Arabian bloodlines are found in almost every modern breed of riding horse.

The Arabian developed in a desert climate and was prized by the nomadic Bedouin people, often being brought inside the family tent for shelter and protection from theft. Selective breeding for traits including an ability to form a cooperative relationship with humans created a horse breed that is good-natured, quick to learn, and willing to please. The Arabian also developed the high spirit and alertness needed in a horse used for raiding and war. This combination of willingness and sensitivity requires modern Arabian horse owners to handle their horses with competence and respect.

The Arabian is a versatile breed. Arabians dominate the discipline of endurance riding, and compete today in many other fields of equestrian sport. They are one of the top ten most popular horse breeds in the world. They are now found worldwide, including the United States and Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, continental Europe, South America (especially Brazil), and their land of origin, the Middle East.

Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse (Lakota: Tȟašúŋke Witkó in Standard Lakota Orthography, IPA: /tχa'ʃʊ̃kɛ wit'kɔ/, lit. 'His-Horse-Is-Crazy'; c. 1840 – September 5, 1877) was a Lakota war leader of the Oglala band in the 19th century. He took up arms against the United States federal government to fight against encroachment by white American settlers on Native American territory and to preserve the traditional way of life of the Lakota people. His participation in several famous battles of the Black Hills War on the northern Great Plains, among them the Fetterman Fight in 1866 in which he acted as a decoy and the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 in which he led a war party to victory, earned him great respect from both his enemies and his own people.

In September 1877, four months after surrendering to U.S. troops under General George Crook, Crazy Horse was fatally wounded by a bayonet-wielding military guard while allegedly resisting imprisonment at Camp Robinson in present-day Nebraska. He ranks among the most notable and iconic of Native American warriors and was honored by the U.S. Postal Service in 1982 with a 13¢ Great Americans series postage stamp.

Dark Horse Comics

Dark Horse Comics is an American comic book and manga publisher. It was founded in 1986 by Mike Richardson in Milwaukie, Oregon.

Richardson started out by opening his first comic book store, Pegasus Books, in Bend, Oregon, in 1980. From there he was able to use the funds from his retail operation to start his own publishing company. Dark Horse Presents and Boris the Bear were the two initial titles in 1986 and within one year of its first publication, Dark Horse Comics added nine new titles to its roster, including Hellboy, The American, The Mask, Trekker, and Black Cross. Frank Miller's Sin City is one of the most famous works associated with Dark Horse, and it has become something of a signature comic to the publishing house. They also established a reputation for publishing licensed works such as Aliens, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Conan, and Star Wars.

In 2011, Dark Horse Presents relaunched including the return of Paul Chadwick's Concrete and Steve Niles' Criminal Macabre, as well as new talent including Sanford Greene, Carla Speed McNeil, Nate Crosby and others. In late summer of 2018 a set of comic books for Mysticons were released.

Draft horse

A draft horse (US), draught horse (UK, Ireland and Commonwealth) or dray horse (from the Old English dragan meaning "to draw or haul"; compare Dutch dragen and German tragen meaning "to carry" and Danish drage meaning "to draw" or "to fare"), less often called a carthorse, work horse or heavy horse, is a large horse bred to be a working animal doing hard tasks such as plowing and other farm labor. There are a number of breeds, with varying characteristics, but all share common traits of strength, patience, and a docile temperament which made them indispensable to generations of pre-industrial farmers.

Draft horses and draft crossbreds are versatile breeds used today for a multitude of purposes, including farming, draft horse showing, logging, recreation, and other uses. They are also commonly used for crossbreeding, especially to light riding breeds such as the Thoroughbred, for the purpose of creating sport horses of warmblood type. While most draft horses are used for driving, they can be ridden and some of the lighter draft breeds are capable performers under saddle.


Equestrianism (from Latin equester, equestr-, equus, horseman, horse), more often known as horse riding (British English) or horseback riding (American English), refers to the skill and sport of riding, driving, steeplechasing or vaulting with horses. This broad description includes the use of horses for practical working purposes, transportation, recreational activities, artistic or cultural exercises, and competitive sport.

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible, the Book of Revelation by John of Patmos, at 6:1–8. The chapter tells of a book or scroll in God's right hand that is sealed with seven seals. The Lamb of God opens the first four of the seven seals, which summons four beings that ride out on white, red, black, and pale horses.

The prophecy describes a period of time when a quarter of the population of the earth would be killed by a combination of wars, famine and disease. The prophecy describes the causes as 1) a conquering people whose weapon was the bow "I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest." 2) a people engaged in constant war "Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword." 3) high food prices leading to famine "before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!" and 4) disease " I looked and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him.". These four are are then summed up as follows "They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by the sword (war), famine, and plague and by the wild beasts of the earth". The sword refers to the first 2 horsemen, famine to the 3rd, and plague and beasts of the earth to the 4th.Though theologians and popular culture differ on the first Horseman, the four riders are often seen as symbolizing Conquest or Pestilence (and less frequently, the Christ or the Antichrist), War, Famine, and Death. The Christian apocalyptic vision is that the Four Horsemen are to set a divine apocalypse upon the world as harbingers of the Last Judgment. One reading ties the Four Horsemen to the history of the Roman Empire subsequent to the era in which the Book of Revelation was written as a symbolic prophecy.


A gelding is a castrated horse or other equine, such as a donkey or a mule. Castration, as well as the elimination of hormonally-driven behavior associated with a stallion, allows a male horse to be calmer and better-behaved, making the animal quieter, gentler and potentially more suitable as an everyday working animal. The gerund and participle "gelding" and the infinitive "to geld" refer to the castration procedure itself.

Horse breeding

Horse breeding is reproduction in horses, and particularly the human-directed process of selective breeding of animals, particularly purebred horses of a given breed. Planned matings can be used to produce specifically desired characteristics in domesticated horses. Furthermore, modern breeding management and technologies can increase the rate of conception, a healthy pregnancy, and successful foaling.

Horse racing

Horse racing is an equestrian performance sport, typically involving two or more horses ridden by jockeys (or sometimes driven without riders) over a set distance for competition. It is one of the most ancient of all sports, as its basic premise – to identify which of two or more horses is the fastest over a set course or distance – has been unchanged since at least classical antiquity.Horse races vary widely in format and many countries have developed their own particular traditions around the sport. Variations include restricting races to particular breeds, running over obstacles, running over different distances, running on different track surfaces and running in different gaits.

While horses are sometimes raced purely for sport, a major part of horse racing's interest and economic importance is in the gambling associated with it, an activity that in 2008 generated a worldwide market worth around US$115 billion.


Horsepower (hp) is a unit of measurement of power, or the rate at which work is done. There are many different standards and types of horsepower. Two common definitions being used today are the mechanical horsepower (or imperial horsepower), which is about 745.7 watts, and the metric horsepower, which is approximately 735.5 watts.

The term was adopted in the late 18th century by Scottish engineer James Watt to compare the output of steam engines with the power of draft horses. It was later expanded to include the output power of other types of piston engines, as well as turbines, electric motors and other machinery. The definition of the unit varied among geographical regions. Most countries now use the SI unit watt for measurement of power. With the implementation of the EU Directive 80/181/EEC on January 1, 2010, the use of horsepower in the EU is permitted only as a supplementary unit.

List of horse breeds

This page is a list of horse and pony breeds, and also includes terms for types of horse that are not breeds but are commonly mistaken for breeds. While there is no scientifically accepted definition of the term "breed", a breed is defined generally as having distinct true-breeding characteristics over a number of generations. Its members may be called "purebred". In most cases, bloodlines of horse breeds are recorded with a breed registry. The concept is somewhat flexible in horses, as open stud books are created for developing horse breeds that are not yet fully true-breeding.

Registries also are considered the authority as to whether a given breed is listed as a "horse" or a "pony". There are also a number of "color breed", sport horse, and gaited horse registries for horses with various phenotypes or other traits, which admit any animal fitting a given set of physical characteristics, even if there is little or no evidence of the trait being a true-breeding characteristic. Other recording entities or specialty organizations may recognize horses from multiple breeds, thus, for the purposes of this article, such animals are classified as a "type" rather than a "breed".

The breeds and types listed here are those that already have a Wikipedia article. For a more extensive list, see the List of all horse breeds in DAD-IS.

For additional information, see horse breed, horse breeding, and the individual articles listed below. Additional articles may be listed under Category:Horse breeds and Category:Types of horse.


A mare is an adult female horse or other equine.In most cases, a mare is a female horse over the age of three, and a filly is a female horse three and younger. In Thoroughbred horse racing, a mare is defined as a female horse more than four years old. The word can also be used for other female equine animals, particularly mules and zebras, but a female donkey is usually called a "jenny". A broodmare is a mare used for breeding. A horse's female parent is known as its dam.

An uncastrated adult male horse is called a stallion and a castrated male is a gelding. Occasionally, the term "horse" is used to designate only a male horse.


A mule is the offspring of a male donkey (jack) and a female horse (mare). Horses and donkeys are different species, with different numbers of chromosomes. Of the two first generation hybrids between these two species, a mule is easier to obtain than a hinny, which is the offspring of a female donkey (jenny) and a male horse (stallion).

The size of a mule and work to which it is put depend largely on the breeding of the mule's female parent (dam). Mules can be lightweight, medium weight or when produced from draft horse mares, of moderately heavy weight. Mules are reputed to be more patient, hardy and long-lived than horses and are described as less obstinate and more intelligent than donkeys.

Neil Young

Neil Percival Young (born November 12, 1945), is a Canadian singer-songwriter. After embarking on a music career in the 1960s, he moved to Los Angeles, where he formed Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills, Richie Furay and others. Young had released two solo albums and three as a member of Buffalo Springfield by the time he joined Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1969. From his early solo albums and those with his backing band Crazy Horse, Young has recorded a steady stream of studio and live albums, sometimes warring with his recording company along the way.

Young's guitar work, deeply personal lyrics and signature tenor singing voice transcend his long career. Young also plays piano and harmonica on many albums, which frequently combine folk, rock, country and other musical styles. His often distorted electric guitar playing, especially with Crazy Horse, earned him the nickname "Godfather of Grunge" and led to his 1995 album Mirror Ball with Pearl Jam. More recently Young has been backed by Promise of the Real.

Young directed (or co-directed) films using the pseudonym Bernard Shakey, including Journey Through the Past (1973), Rust Never Sleeps (1979), Human Highway (1982), Greendale (2003), and CSNY/Déjà Vu (2008). He also contributed to the soundtracks of the films Philadelphia (1993) and Dead Man (1995).

Young has received several Grammy and Juno awards. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted him twice: as a solo artist in 1995 and in 1997 as a member of Buffalo Springfield. In 2000, Rolling Stone named Young the 34th greatest rock 'n roll artist.

He has lived in California since the 1960s but retains Canadian citizenship. He was awarded the Order of Manitoba on July 14, 2006, and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada on December 30, 2009.

Secretariat (horse)

Secretariat (March 30, 1970 – October 4, 1989) was an American Thoroughbred racehorse who, in 1973, became the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. His record-breaking victory in the Belmont Stakes, which he won by 31 lengths, is widely regarded as one of the greatest races of all time. During his racing career, he won five Eclipse Awards, including Horse of the Year honors at ages two and three. He was elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1974. In the List of the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century, Secretariat is second only to Man o' War (racing career 1919–1920), who also was a large chestnut colt given the nickname "Big Red".

At age two, Secretariat finished fourth in his 1972 debut in a maiden race, but then won seven of his remaining eight starts, including five stakes victories. His only loss during this period was in the Champagne Stakes, where he finished first but was disqualified to second for interference. He received the Eclipse Award for champion two-year-old colt, and also was the 1972 Horse of the Year, a rare honor for a horse so young. At age three, Secretariat not only won the Triple Crown, he set speed records in all three races. His time in the Kentucky Derby still stands as the Churchill Downs track record for ​1 1⁄4 miles, and his time in the Belmont Stakes stands as the American record for ​1 1⁄2 miles on the dirt. His controversial time in the Preakness Stakes was eventually recognized as a stakes record in 2012. Secretariat's win in the Gotham Stakes tied the track record for 1 mile, he set a world record in the Marlboro Cup at ​1 1⁄8 miles, and further proved his versatility by winning two major stakes races on turf. He lost three times that year: in the Wood Memorial, Whitney, and Woodward Stakes, but the brilliance of his nine wins made him an American icon. He won his second Horse of the Year title, plus Eclipse Awards for champion three-year-old colt and champion turf horse.

At the beginning of his three-year-old year, Secretariat was syndicated for a record-breaking $6.08 million on condition that he be retired from racing by the end of the year. Although he sired several successful racehorses, he ultimately was most influential through his daughters' offspring, becoming the leading broodmare sire in North America in 1992. His daughters produced several notable sires, including Storm Cat, A.P. Indy, Gone West, Dehere and Chief's Crown, and through them Secretariat appears in the pedigree of many modern champions. Secretariat died in 1989 due to laminitis at age 19. He is recognized as one of the greatest horses in American racing history.


A stallion is a male horse that has not been gelded (castrated).

Stallions follow the conformation and phenotype of their breed, but within that standard, the presence of hormones such as testosterone may give stallions a thicker, "cresty" neck, as well as a somewhat more muscular physique as compared to female horses, known as mares, and castrated males, called geldings.

Temperament varies widely based on genetics, and training, but because of their instincts as herd animals, they may be prone to aggressive behavior, particularly toward other stallions, and thus require careful management by knowledgeable handlers. However, with proper training and management, stallions are effective equine athletes at the highest levels of many disciplines, including horse racing, horse shows, and international Olympic competition.

The term "stallion" dates from the era of Henry VII, who passed a number of laws relating to the breeding and export of horses in an attempt to improve the British stock, under which it was forbidden to allow uncastrated male horses to be turned out in fields or on the commons; they had to be "kept within bounds and tied in stalls." (The term "stallion" for an uncastrated male horse dates from this time; stallion = stalled one.) "Stallion" is also used to refer to males of other equids, including zebras and donkeys.


The Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing. Although the word thoroughbred is sometimes used to refer to any breed of purebred horse, it technically refers only to the Thoroughbred breed. Thoroughbreds are considered "hot-blooded" horses that are known for their agility, speed, and spirit.

The Thoroughbred as it is known today was developed in 17th- and 18th-century England, when native mares were crossbred with imported Oriental stallions of Arabian, Barb, and Turkoman breeding. All modern Thoroughbreds can trace their pedigrees to three stallions originally imported into England in the 17th century and 18th century and to a larger number of foundation mares of mostly English breeding. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Thoroughbred breed spread throughout the world; they were imported into North America starting in 1730 and into Australia, Europe, Japan and South America during the 19th century. Millions of Thoroughbreds exist today, and around 100,000 foals are registered each year worldwide.

Thoroughbreds are used mainly for racing, but are also bred for other riding disciplines such as show jumping, combined training, dressage, polo, and fox hunting. They are also commonly crossbred to create new breeds or to improve existing ones, and have been influential in the creation of the Quarter Horse, Standardbred, Anglo-Arabian, and various warmblood breeds.

Thoroughbred racehorses perform with maximum exertion, which has resulted in high accident rates and health problems such as bleeding from the lungs. Other health concerns include low fertility, abnormally small hearts and a small hoof-to-body-mass ratio. There are several theories for the reasons behind the prevalence of accidents and health problems in the Thoroughbred breed, and research is ongoing.

Trojan Horse

The Trojan Horse is a story from the Trojan War about the subterfuge that the Greeks used to enter the independent city of Troy and win the war. In the canonical version, after a fruitless 10-year siege, the Greeks constructed a huge wooden horse, and hid a select force of men inside including Odysseus. The Greeks pretended to sail away, and the Trojans pulled the horse into their city as a victory trophy. That night the Greek force crept out of the horse and opened the gates for the rest of the Greek army, which had sailed back under cover of night. The Greeks entered and destroyed the city of Troy, ending the war.

Metaphorically, a "Trojan Horse" has come to mean any trick or stratagem that causes a target to invite a foe into a securely protected bastion or place. A malicious computer program which tricks users into willingly running it is also called a "Trojan horse" or simply a "Trojan".

The main ancient source for the story is the Aeneid of Virgil, a Latin epic poem from the time of Augustus. The event is also referred to in Homer's Odyssey. In the Greek tradition, the horse is called the "wooden horse" (δουράτεος ἵππος dourateos hippos in Homeric/Ionic Greek (Odyssey 8.512); δούρειος ἵππος, doureios hippos in Attic Greek).

Trojan horse (computing)

In computing, a Trojan horse, or Trojan, is any malicious computer program which misleads users of its true intent. The term is derived from the Ancient Greek story of the deceptive wooden horse that led to the fall of the city of Troy.Trojans are generally spread by some form of social engineering, for example where a user is duped into executing an e-mail attachment disguised to appear not suspicious, (e.g., a routine form to be filled in), or by clicking on some fake advertisement on social media or anywhere else. Although their payload can be anything, many modern forms act as a backdoor, contacting a controller which can then have unauthorized access to the affected computer. Trojans may allow an attacker to access users' personal information such as banking information, passwords, or personal identity. It can infect other devices connected to the network. Ransomware attacks are often carried out using a Trojan.

Unlike computer viruses and worms, Trojans generally do not attempt to inject themselves into other files or otherwise propagate themselves.

Extant Perissodactyla (Odd-toed ungulates) species by suborder
Equine science and
and sport
Evolution and history
Horse breeds, types
and other Equidae

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