Horses have been part of people’s lives as domestic animals for around 5000 years. They have been domesticated for riding and as work animals, but our love for them is still undeniable. Here are some fun facts you may not have known about our equestrian friends.
Horses have the biggest eyes of all land-living mammals
Thanks to this phenomenon horses have the ability to see colours, depth, motion and even in the dark! As a prey animal, large eyes on either side of the horse’s head (monocular vision) is what keeps it safe while grazing, remaining vigilant in case of predators. A horse’s blind spot is in front of its forehead, so even when grazing they can see everything around them in a nearly 360° radius.
The saying “to get someone’s goat” actually comes from horses’ history
Horses are very social creatures and will get lonely if kept alone; they will even mourn the passing of a companion. As social creatures, people noticed this and particularly skittish horses were given a “friend,” often in the form of a goat because they are resilient and equally social. As they pose no predatory instinct that could spook the horse (like a dog) goats act as a kind of emotional support animal for horses.
Goats have been observed to have a strange calming effect on even the most high-strung and skittish thoroughbreds. They form a strong bond and the goat tends to become just as attached to the horse as the horse does to it. So to “get someone’s goat” would leave them feeling stressed and upset the way a horse would be without his buddy. Goats can be considered necessary riding gear as they are especially helpful for keeping horses calm while travelling.
When horses were first domesticated they were ridden and milked
Before riding gear, horse saddles and horse tack the way we know them today horses were domesticated for their milk and riding abilities. Early horseman didn’t use saddles and rode bareback while travelling and in battle. The first horse saddles were brought to Europe by the Huns and the ease of the metal stirrup of the saddle soon caught on and became very popular. The Western saddle is a product of the Spanish Vaquero’s working saddle that was tweaked to suit a better riding position.