Horses have roamed the earth for nearly 55 million years and were domesticated around 4000 BC. Horses are very fast and have a well-developed sense of balance and a strong fight-or-flight response, which enables them to identify and escape predators. A horse’s height, which for centuries made them an ideal companion for expeditions and battles alike, is measured from hoof to withers, the area where the neck meets the back. The size of a horse varies both by breed and upbringing – with smaller riding horses clocking in at 56-64 inches and 840-1,210 pounds and the largest draft horses averaging 64-72 inches and 1,540-2,200 pounds.Adult female horses are known as mares, while adult male horses are called stallions. Though largely referred to as a pony, baby horses are actually called foals (until age one) and are known as a filly (female) or colt (male) until age four. Ponies, on the other hand, are taxonomically the same animal as a horse, with the difference found primarily in their height, conformation and temperament.
When compared to a horse, ponies usually have thicker manes, tails and coats, as well as shorter legs, wider barrels, heavier bones, shorter and thicker necks and short heads with broad foreheads. Ponies are also known to be calmer than horses and exhibit high levels of intelligence, which makes them ideal of cooperating with human handlers and thus for pony ride sessions.
Horses and ponies are herbivores, meaning they eat grasses and other plant materials. Horses also have a keen sense of smell and an advanced sense of taste, which provides them with the ability to choose what they would most like to eat. Their lips then make it possible for them to sort even the smallest of grains.
Horses eyes, the largest of any land mammal, are positioned on the sides of their heads, which gives them a range of vision of more than 350 degrees. Additionally, they are able to see very clearly in both day and night and, though they can see colors, they exhibit a colorblindness similar to that found in humans – where reds appear as greens. Horses also have an elevated sense of hearing. In fact, a horse’s ear can rotate up to 180 degrees, which allows them to hear a full 360 degrees around them without having to move their head, but also raises the likelihood that they will encounter noises that will stress or startle them.