Ranchers have passed down old wives’ tales about horses and their health for years and just like any tall tale some have truth behind them while others are just false. When it comes to horse health if you have any resignations about the treatment you should immediately seek the assistance of a large animal veterinarian. Five horse fact that every equine owner should know is detailed below.
#1Horses are NOSE Breathers!
The fancy technical name for this is Obligate Nasal Breathing but what it means is that a horse cannot breathe through its mouth. Horses aren’t the only nose breathers, rabbits, ferrets, mice and other rodents all share this trait. Many believe that this is an evolutionary trait amongst prey animals. They have adapted so that in the wild they can eat and breathe at the same time, to stay alert for predators, most likely. After exerting themselves the horse’s nostril will flare out to allow more oxygen to pass through them. The reason horses breathe through their noses is because the nasal passage is separated from the oral cavity by the soft palate this allows them to breathe while eating without choking but a disadvantage is it prevents horses from being able to vomit, which takes us to the second health fact.
#2 Horses cannot Vomit:
When horses eat the food passes through the esophageal sphincter, which is a whole lot stronger than in most animals and once that sphincter closes it’s almost impossible for that food to come back through it. So, basically, horses have a one-way only digestive system. A horse’s stomach is protected within the rib cage making it nearly impossible for the stomach to contract which if you’ve ever vomited yourself you know occurs. Perhaps horses don’t require a vomiting reflex because they don’t ingest a lot of toxins so it’s unneeded. Ragweed is toxic to horses so make sure your pasture is clear of ragweed because as we know if ingested the horse is unable to vomit it up.
#3 Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth:
You can roughly estimate a horses age by the size of its teeth. The old saying is based on this phenomenon. It literally means it would be rude to look at the teeth of a free horse to see how old it is. Like looking at the price tag on a shirt that was given to you. Just like humans, horses have baby teeth and permanent teeth. The presence of baby teeth tells you the horse is under the age of 5 and after that, the presence of cups (under 15 years old), the surface of the teeth and space between the teeth are all indicators of a horses’ age.
#4 Horses have a sweet tooth!
Just like people horses love sweets. Many have been known to steal unattended sodas from their owners. Horses love eating apples, bananas, oranges, plums, strawberries and even watermelon. Fruit juices are a known favorite, frozen in the summertime for a cool treat. Sugar cubes have been used during training as a reward for hard work. Commercial horse treats are usually sweetly flavored as well.
#5 They say elephants never forget well neither do horses:
Horses have an incredible long-term memory. Research has proven that horses can remember tasks they were taught up to ten years later. They especially remember incidents where they were frightened. Having a scare down a favorite path may prevent them from returning to that path. Horses also remember their human friends and recognize them even after several years have passed.