Lessons with Dad: Horses

 

Good Morning my loyal readers! The Cashmirino Dad is here to regale you with yet another story! We’ve spoken a lot about indoor animals which are kept as pets. Let’s talk about a big animal today, one which is about 60 times bigger than you. Do you believe me? Let’s try this exercise:

Crouch very low and hold out your hand in front of you, spread your fingers slightly. Count that hand as ‘one’. Put your other hand right above the first hand and spread it slightly too, count it as ‘two’. Put the first hand above the second one and count it as ‘three’. Keep putting a hand above the other moving up and counting, until you are standing up straight and can’t reach any higher. How many hands did you count till you couldn’t reach any more? The animal we are talking about today is 14 – 16 hands tall! See I told you it’s a large animal!

This animal is a horse.

Horses were measured in hands years ago. This is because a hand measures 4 inches, and so a horse that is 16 hands would be 64 inches (16 x4). Horses that measure fewer than 14.2 hands are called ponies. Ponies stay small their entire life while horses grow to be bigger. Standard horses are 14.2 hands and above. I am pretty sure you measured a pony when you did the exercise!

Long long ago, horses were hunted for their meat. As you can imagine how big a horse is, they have a lot of meat on their bones. But slowly, humans realised how important horses are to them. They realised how fast they were, how easy they were to train and how sociable they were when tamed. Tamed means the animal is no longer wild. A human can walk about 4 miles per hour, but a horse can walk or trot at distances twice that rate in an hour. It then occurred to humans that sitting on a horse could help them do things faster – like travelling!

Horses are also very strong. They can carry and drag things that the strongest human in the world cannot move at one time. So it occurred to humans again that horses could help with moving other animals such as cows, goats and also their personal belongings. Horses are so strong that they can run while attached to carriages that humans sat in. Horses were doing a fantastic job way before cars were ever invented. They were very solid and reliable for transportation.

Do you know another fascinating fact about horses? They digest food very well and so can move right after eating. Other animals sometimes need to rest after eating or take a sneaky nap. I know I do! Do you take a nap sometimes after eating your favourite meal?

I can tell you even more things horses helped humans with; they helped them when they went to war! The soldiers would ride their horses into the battlefields to fight other soldiers. We can learn from horses - they are very brave! Have you ever heard someone say ‘horse power’? It refers to the strength of horses, they are an amazing animal. Now, horses can be found at sporting games. Some of these games are horse racing and polo. A professional rider who rides the horse in a race is called a jockey. An equestrian is someone who is involved with horseback riding. You don’t have to be a professional rider to be called an equestrian.

Horses can also have jobs, just like police dogs. Sometimes policemen and women ride them on their daily tasks. They ride them while they move through towns and areas. Have you seen a police officer on a horse?

Even though horses are big, it doesn’t always mean they are aggressive or scary. Of course, just like you and me, horses have their special way to be treated so they don’t feel scared. Let’s go through some interesting facts about caring and looking after a horse, and what to do and what not to do.

Something interesting about horses: A horses produces 10 gallons of saliva a day! Do you even drink that much water every day, my loyal readers?

Something to care for horses: Horses also have their special doctors. They are called an ‘equine veterinary’. These veterinaries keep horses healthy for racing, as pets and administer their vaccines. Their vaccines protect them from tetanus, viral respiratory disease and strangles.

Something interesting about horses: They have the biggest eyes out of all land mammals.

Something peculiar to horses: Baby horses can run within hours of entering the world. Look how long humans take until they are able to even crawl after birth. Ask your parents how long it took you before you could walk!

Something peculiar to horses: Horses sleep standing up! Isn’t that strange? You sleep tucked into bed lying down but they sleep the whole night in a standing position.

Something interesting about horses: They can move their skin without moving their muscles. This is how they shake off insects that sit on them. Have you ever seen a horse’s shiny coat? Try shaking your skin without moving your muscles! I bet it feels impossible.

Something to care for horses: Horses love to be groomed. They have a special brush that is used on their waxy shiny coat.

Something to care for horses: They are always on their feet but need to run/ trot to keep active. They need 15 – 30 minutes of working out a day for a small horse. An hour would be the perfect time.

Something peculiar to horses: Horses have 16 small muscles in each ear and can move them 180 degrees.

Something interesting about horses: Horses can jump very high. The highest horse jump on record is 8 feet and 1.25 inches.

Horses, as a general rule should not be too big or too thin. Their ribs should be felt and not seen. If you can see them, they are a bit too thin. If their necks are very large, then they may be considered overweight. When they get too big, it can affect their ‘hoof’. Hooves are the horses’ ‘feet’. Just like dogs and cats have paws, and humans have legs and hands, horses have hooves. They have four hooves and stand on all four. A horse can balance itself for moments on two hooves at a time.

I am sure you are wondering what horses eat and how they can get so big! They can weigh as much as 800 pounds even when they are small. Horses eat roughage – like hay, mixtures of grains such as corn and oats. They may also eat grass sometimes. They drink lots and lots of water, but that is no surprise! Their water is normally stored in a wooden structure or sometimes metallic/ copper structure called a trough.

Horses are trained for several events by people called ‘horse trainers’. These people train them so the horses get used to human contact; they do this by exercising with them, riding them, teaching them positions which mean stop, run faster and slow down. Would you like to be a horse trainer when you grow older? It is a great job to train horses for police work, events and entertainment.

Horses have personalities just like us. Some are extremely active and are mostly groomed for horse racing when they are. Some don’t like exercise too much and would be hesitant to run long distances; these may be used to transport goods, people or herd animals. We also have those who are overachievers; they excel at everything they do. Which type of horse do you think you are?

The most lovable trait about horses is that they recognize humans very well; they can get very fond of you if you love them and treat them well. They recognize their vet, their feeder and the person who sneaks them treats! They may appear reserved and standoffish when around a stranger. They also remember their horse friends from ages ago and have great memories of both good and bad experiences. They are very much like us. I am sure you know your doctor, friends and family and remember all experiences in your life so far!

My loyal readers, I will conclude here with all my interesting facts about horses. Tomorrow, I will be back again with another animal that my twins, Neni & Nat suggest to me. Take Care and remember to do my daily quizzes to keep you refreshed about the animals we talk about!

Quiz about Horses

Exercise: Teach your sibling or mum/dad how to measure a horses’s height using the hand method you’ve learnt.

What is the difference between a horse and a pony?

Answer: A pony is a small horse for all its life while a horse grows to be over 14.2 hands.

Can you list some tasks horses help humans with?

Answer: Horses help humans with transportation of themselves and their goods, with herding animals and police work.

Are horses smaller than dogs?

Answer: No. Horses are bigger than dogs.

Do horses remember people who may sneak them a treat?

Answer: Yes, horses have great memories.

Horses cannot move their skin without moving their muscles. True/ False

Answer: False

Horses have the same doctor as cats and dogs. True/ False

Answer: False. Horses’ doctors are called an equine veterinary.

Can anyone train a horse to do police work, for instance?

Answer: No, there are special people called horse trainers who teach them.

 


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