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Horses: Top 10 Questions

April 2016

Thanks to Thanks to Myron Amsden, president, Idaho Quarter Horse Association; and Dr. Madison Seamans, equine veterinarian, for their answers. for the answers.

1: Why do horses stand up while sleeping?

Horses have a stay apparatus that's built into their system. They kind of lock their legs so they don't fall over. It's genetic in them because they need to be ready for flight from predators. So they stay standing when they sleep. That way they don't have to get up and go if they need to. They are already standing and can go if needed. Horses stand up when sleeping because they can. (From Kaya at Basin Elementary School in Idaho City)

2: How tall is the tallest horse in the world?

The tallest horse in the world is a Clydesdale. He is in Minnesota and is 84 inches at the shoulder. His name is Big John. (From Landon at Dalton Elementary School in Dalton Gardens)

3: How many breeds of horses are there?

There are about 200 recognized breeds of horses. There are some subcategories of those breeds, but basically 200 throughout the world. (From Avery at Liberty Elementary School in Boise)

4: What makes horses become feral?

A feral horse is a wild horse. If the horses have been uncared for and left in a wild range type setting, they become feral within a couple of generations. They learn how to fend for themselves, and they look at man as a predator and not as a partner. Undoing some of that learned behavior is best left to skilled professionals. (From Skylah at Sagle Elementary School in Sagle)

5: Is there an extinct breed of horse?

If we were to go back and look at DNA, the genetic signature that all animals leave, we would not be able to determine a breed of horse. We could tell that it was a horse from the DNA, but we could not tell what breed of horse. Therefore, it is impossible to tell if there is an extinct breed of horse. (From Madison at Sagle Elementary School in Sagle)

6: Who picked the Appaloosa horse for our state horse and why?

Back in the '70s, Representative Tom Trail put together a program. He had kids throughout the state write in and choose the Appaloosa horse as the state horse. Governor Andrus then signed the proclamation, making the Appaloosa the state horse. (From Emma at Kamiah Elementary School in Kamiah)

7: How much do horses weigh?

The average horse, a horse you would see in someone's backyard, weighs about 1,000 pounds. The Shetland, or the miniature horse, weighs under 100 pounds. The big Clydesdales can weigh anywhere from 1,800 to 2,400 pounds. So there is a wide variation of weight between the different breeds of horses. (From Tana at Basin Elementary School in Idaho City)

8: How long is a horse's gestation period?

The gestation of a horse, the time from conception to the time that the foal comes out of its mom to say hello, is about 345 days. (From Lucy at Liberty Elementary School in Boise)

9: Why do horses have manes?

A horse has a lot of sweat glands in its neck. The mane wicks away some of the sweat, helping to keep the horse a little bit cooler. Manes also add to the beauty of a horse whether we brush it out full or braid it. (From Evan at Liberty Elementary School in Boise)

10: Why do horses kick?

Horses kick because they get startled. They also kick because they want something out of their space. They want to get horses, or even humans, away from them. Mainly they kick because they are startled. (From CJ at Basin Elementary School in Idaho City)


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