While horses are a much-loved staple of British culture, it seems our stallions are more complex characters than previously believed. Music loving, non-gender biased dreamers: here are 10 facts you may not have known about equine.

Horses communicate their mood through their facial expressions

horse neigh

They use their eyes, ears, and nostrils to indicate a range of emotions from fear to jealousy.

They also have a wide variety of vocalisations to express danger (snorts), sexual interest (roars) and simple greetings/goodbyes (whinnies/neighs).

 

Equine brainpower

Horses can solve advanced cognitive challenges involving categorization, learning and a degree of concept formation.

 

Who needs watchdogs?

horse murderer

Horses won’t be seen lying down as a herd. One, at least, will always stay standing and act as a watch guard for any threats to the group.

 

A horse’s eye is the largest of all land mammals

It’s up to nine times larger than in humans. Horses have three eyelids and an intricate focusing system whereby the lower retina sees into the distance and the upper retina is used for close viewing.

 

A stallion never forgets…

horse

A study in 2010 found that a horse’s memory is as sharp as an elephant's. If you are kind to your horse, it will remember you for the rest of its life.

Regardless of the time left between meetings, the horse will recognise you and resume the friendship immediately.

 

They can understand you

Horses can understand a lot more words than previously thought and will create good or bad associations with particular places that evoke certain memories.

 

How can they sleep standing up?

standing up
Image via Wonderopolis

The reason horses don't fall over when sleeping standing up is due to their lockable limbs. The muscles in their legs lock to prevent any accidents whilst snoozing.

And why do they sleep standing up in the first place? Due to their straight backs, it is more difficult for a horse to stand from a lying position, which isn't ideal if they find themselves in danger and need to quickly run away or fight.

 

Equine dreams

While sleeping, horses experience both short wave sleep and rapid eye movement or REM sleep meaning it is highly likely that they experience dreams.

 

The sugar cube cliché is based on truth

horse sugar cube

Horses have a sweet tooth and will readily accept anything sugary due to their evolution from herbivores searching for carbohydrates.

Yoo much sugar is detrimental to a horse’s health, however, and should only be given in small doses as a treat.

 

Equine equality

Horse herds aren't gender biased. Some herds are led by mares, and others by stallions. Typically, however, it will be a female who leads the way on long treks while the males follow obediently.

 

Horses have specific musical tastes

horse listening to music

They will usually be very receptive to calming or cheerful instrumental tracks, but do not enjoy lyric based heavier genres like rock music or metal.

It could be down to the fact that horses can differentiate between emotions in the human voice and understand many words and their meanings, thus making the lyrics more overwhelming to the senses.

 

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