Given that humans have been interacting with horses for thousands of years, it’s not surprising that we’ve developed some funny ideas about them. No matter your level of involvement with horses, there are surely some details that you didn’t know about these awe-inspiring, mysterious creatures. In this post, we’ll bust 7 common myths about horses.
1. Horses only sleep standing up.
It’s true that, unlike humans, horses often sleep standing up. Since it takes them a long time to get moving once they’re lying down, standing enables them to run away quickly if there’s any danger.
However, in the wild, some horses will often take the opportunity to lie down while a couple stand on the alert. Lying down allows horses to enter deep REM sleep, which is essential for their health and performance.
2. Horses are colour-blind.
This statement is another one that’s not completely wrong. Unlike humans, horses can’t see all 4 primary colours (blue, green, red, and yellow), let alone all the intermediate hues. Horses can only perceive blue and green, meaning that any other colours appear as either white, grey, or a desaturated blue or green.
3. Horses’ hooves are solid.
Although horses’ hooves may look hard, they’re actually a mixture of bone, tissue, and keratin, a protein that’s also present in human hair and fingernails. The 3 bones in a horse’s hoof are surrounded by laminae, or sensitive tissue that carries blood. The hoof also contains a digital cushion, or rubber-like shock absorber.
4. Horses cannot drink cold water.
If you think about it, in the wild, horses drink from streams and rivers that are often cold. The only caveat is that, as warm-blooded animals, horses may prefer not to drink cold water right after working out.
5. Cold-blooded horses have a different body temperature than hot-blooded ones.
Although you can be forgiven for assuming that cold-blooded horses have cooler blood than hot-blooded ones, this description does not refer to the temperature of the liquid running through their circulatory system. Rather, these adjectives describe a horse’s body and personality type.
As we noted in our post about horse breeds, hot-blooded horses are spirited and energetic. Cold-blooded equines, meanwhile, tend to be calmer.
6. When a horse shows its teeth or curls its lips, it’s smiling or laughing.
Unfortunately, the horse is not showing its amusement at the joke that you just told. In fact, it’s taking a sniff, in what is known as the flehmen response. A horse’s olfactory glands are buried deep in its nasal passage, so it needs to make a funny face to smell things.
7. The only way that horses can communicate is via neighing or whinnying.
Horses are generally not very vocal, so it would be challenging for them if neighs and whinnies were their only way of communicating. In fact, these animals also use body language to get their point across.
Do you know any other myths about horses? Let us know in the comments!
Hello, My name is Shelby Gatti, and I am the owner of Shelby Ranch. I love being able to share my passion for animals with you and your family. At Shelby Ranch you can expect a ton of family adventure from horseback riding to mechanical bull riding & axe throwing.