Date: July 2015
Place: Nesbyen, Norway
Aren’t they just beautiful?
Such speed! Such agility! Such grace!
Yes, as you might have already guessed, I admire horses. They are one of my favourite species of mammals. This couple of beauties, like all the animals described in the previous blog posts, I have met this summer in Langedrag Nature Park in NesbyenNorway.
The horse (Equus ferus) comes from the family Equidae that includes also donkeys and zebras. In turn the species Equus ferus has 3 subspecies: the domestic horse (Equus ferus caballus), which you can see practically on all farms; the tarpan (Equus ferus ferus), which has unfortunately become extinct; and the Przewalski’s horse (Equus ferus przewalskii), which runs wild in Central Asia.
Horses have several quite interesting anatomical and behavioral characteristics that are related to the need of constantly escaping from predators. For example, they have very strong fight-or-flight response to potential threats that in many cases saves their life. Their eyes are one of the largest ones of any land mammal with approximately 65 percent binocular vision and 285 percent monocular vision. Thus, horses can see everything that happens all around them. Besides, they see very well both in day- and nighttime. In addition, horses can sleep while standing up, thus being constantly ready to make a run for their life. And during the run they make use of an extremely well developed sense of balance to help them control their position, direction, and speed.
The whole skeleton-and-muscle system of the horse is designed for run. For instance, they do not have collarbones: their forelimbs are attached to the spinal column by a powerful combination of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The leg bones and hooves are also made in such way that they can carry a 500 kg horse body with high speed and agility. Technically speaking, horses walk and run always on their tiptoes.
The horse was domesticated about 4000 BC in Central Asia. Now this beautiful and gracious animal has become an important member of our agricultural activities, transportation, sport, culture, and entertainment. Horses have been together with us throughout our history and even now, in the modern age of advanced technology and robots, continue to help us in our economic and social activities. They have truly earned all respect and admiration.