20 Common Questions About Horses

Questions Non-Horse Owners Have About Horses

Horses in field
marchellem / Twenty20

These are the twenty most common questions non-horse people ask about horses. 

  • 01 of 20

    Are Horses Color Blind?

    Horse standing in snow
    caitlinspaulding / Twenty20

    Horses are not color blind. However, they don't see color in the same way we do. Understanding Horse Vision describes how horses see color, distance and in the dark.

  • 02 of 20

    Are Horses Mammals?

    A wild newborn colt (Equus caballus) standing up being nuzzled by its mother. Foothills of Reno, Nevada, USA, May.
    Horses are mammals. Diane McAllister / Getty Images

    Horses are mammals. They give birth to live young, who suckle milk from their mothers. They have hair, like all other mammals, and are warm-blooded with a four-chambered heart. Humans, dogs, and cats are mammals too.

  • 03 of 20

    Are Horses Dangerous?

    Woman on a rearing white horse
    Rearing can be dangerous. vm / Getty Images

     Horses are generally docile animals and are unlikely to hurt a person intentionally. However, because of their size and tendency to react quickly, they can hurt you by accident. Some of the most common ways to be injured by a horse are having your toes stepped on, being bitten or falling off while riding. If you ride, you need to be aware that the sport of horseback riding can be dangerous, and it's important to learn to ride well and always wear safety equipment such as helmets and riding boots.

  • 04 of 20

    Are Horses Made into Glue?

    Gold leaf being put on the leather cover of a book, the skillful art of restoring and replacing book bindings is a trade practiced by only a few craftsmen throughout the country
    Traditional glues are still used in bookbinding. Paul Felix / Getty Images

    Traditionally, animal hides and hooves were used to make glue. The collagen rendered from the skin and hooves made a sturdy adhesive. The glue was used in woodworking, bookbinding and musical instrument making among other things. With more inexpensively made synthetic glues available, animal glue is no longer commonly used. However, some craftspeople prefer traditional glue, and it is still available, but not manufactured in as large quantities as it once was.

    Presently, dead stock, including cattle, pigs, and horses are rendered for pet and livestock food, fertilizer and some of the rendered materials may go into things like cosmetics, soaps and industrial fluids. If a horse is not picked up by a dead stock truck for rendering, it may be buried or cremated, depending on local regulations.

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  • 05 of 20

    Are Horses Smarter than Dogs?

    dog and horse looking at each other
    Dogs are a bit smarter than horses. Image Credit:Maria itina/Maria itina/Getty Images

    Horses and dogs are very different. Both are very good at being the type of animal they are. And people often judge the intelligence of animal in terms of wanting what we want. So because they aren't motivated and don't react to things the way we do, many people think horses are stupid. There's also the belief that a horse's brain is the very small the size of a walnut. That's not true, it actually weighs about twenty-five times more than a walnut. And, it has lots of convolutions—creases and furrows that add surface area. That means horses have more brain area to think with than many people realize.

    Horses are very good at picking up human body language. However, they may not beat out dogs in this respect. Dogs are able to read our cues much better, especially when it comes to getting them to pay attention to an external object. Research has shown we can train horses to do many of the things dogs do,  but it takes much more effort than training dogs. This may have to do with how we've bred horses—for size, speed, strength, beauty, but not necessarily intelligence or companionship qualities.

  • 06 of 20

    Is a Horse a Carnivore, Herbivore or an Omnivore?

    Two horses in a shady pasture.
    Horses grazing in a shady pasture. Image Credit::Demetrio Carrasco/ Dorling Kindersley /Getty Images

    Carnivores are meat eaters, so animals like those in the cat family, crocodiles and badgers are considered carnivores. Their teeth are developed to tear apart flesh, and they have a short digestive system since they don't need to digest tough plant fibers.

    Omnivores eat a variety of meats and plants. Humans, skunks, pigs and mice are examples of omnivores.Omnivores have flat teeth for grinding food and sharp teeth for tearing meat. They are able to digest both plant fibers and meat.

    Horses are herbivores. They have flat grinding teeth, and a very long digestive system designed to break down the tough cellulose fiber in plants.

  • 07 of 20

    Is a Horse Considered Livestock?

    Foal resting in the sun
    Horses are considered livestock. MarcusRudolph.nl / Getty Images

    Horses are classified as livestock along with animals like sheep, goats, cattle and swine, although many people consider them pets or companion animals. There are advantages to having horses classified as livestock rather than companions.

  • 08 of 20

    Is a Horse a Domestic Animal?

    Young cowboy on Shetland pony
    Horses are domestic animals. Ralf Nau / Getty Images

    The modern horse is a domestic animal. They have domesticated about 5600 years ago.

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  • 09 of 20

    Is a Horse a Pet?

    Child sitting with pet horse
    ArtMarie / Getty Images

    Many people consider their horse's pets and have horses for no other reason then they're companionship and enjoyment. It's not a great idea to treat a horse too much like a pet, as they tend to take advantage of the situation and can become disrespectful and a hazard. In other parts of the world, horses are raised for meat. Many horses are still used as pack and draw animals and are still used to pull horse-drawn vehicles for transportation and agricultural cultivation. Horses are still also used in logging operations.

  • 10 of 20

    Will a Horse Die If It Lays Down?

    Horse laying in field
    martonaphoto / Getty Images

    Horses can and do lie down. Horses will lie down if they feel comfortable in their stall or pasture. Often, groups will lie out in the sun, while one or two others stand to watch. Horses will nap for short times when they lie down. However, if a horse is prone for too long, blood flow can be restricted causing a reperfusion injury when muscles and organs become damaged from lack of blood. Blood can also pool in the lungs. 

  • 11 of 20

    Can Horses See in the Dark?

    Equine Dusk
    Horses see better than humans in low light. Silentfoto / Getty Images

    Horses can see better in low light than humans can, but they can't see in pitch dark. Horses have a membrane at the back of their eye called the tapetum lucidum, which reflects light more efficiently than a human eye. This allows the horse to see better low-light conditions.

  • 12 of 20

    Can Horses Sit?

    Irish brown horse on field in funny pose.
    This horse looks like its sitting, but it's only paused while getting up from lying down. mikroman6 / Getty Images

    Horses don't generally sit as natural behavior, but a horse can be trained to sit. Because it is an unnatural position, it would be uncomfortable for the horse to sit for a long time.

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  • 13 of 20

    Can a Horse Bite Your Finger Off?

    A sign saying 'Warning-Horses May Bite' with trees and grass in the background.
    Horses can bite and cause injury. Best to not stick fingers or faces over fences where unknown horses live. Getty Images/Angelo DeSantis

    Horse can bite hard. They don't have the tearing teeth of a carnivore, but the flat grinding teeth of an omnivore. So, they probably won't be able to bite a finger off, but they could likely crush it. Horses can leave nasty bite marks on faces and other body parts and have been known to rip noses and ears off. This is one more reason why you should always check with the handler before approaching a horse.

  • 14 of 20

    Can a Horse Have Twins?

    Twins are rare. antonio arcos aka fotonstudio photography / Getty Images

    Horses can have twins. Unfortunately, it's common for one or both twins to die shortly after birth. Responsible breeders will have mares checked for twin pregnancies early on, and if it's found the mare is carrying twin embryos, one can be 'pinched', allowing the other to thrive. It's very unusual for twin foals to survive.

  • 15 of 20

    Can a Horse Sleep While Standing Up?

    three horses sleeping in sun. close up of head.
    Horses do sleep standing up. Daniel Valla Frps / Getty Images

     Yes, horses can sleep while standing up. A mechanism in the joints of the front and hind leg locks when the horse drops one hip as it dozes off into REM sleep. This way, the horse doesn't fall over while it sleeps. Horses sleep standing up to allow them a quick get-away should a predator approach.

  • 16 of 20

    Do Horses like to Be Ridden?

    Man riding horse
    Yuri_Arcurs / Getty Images

    Many people think their horses like to be ridden. A 2012 study tried to evaluate a horse's desire to work. Researchers concluded that horses don't really care to work at all and would rather be eating or chumming with their pasture mates.

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  • 17 of 20

    Do Horses Get Fleas?

    Horses and insects
    Randy Swiatek / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Horses don't get fleas. Fleas can't make a meal of their blood. However, horses do get lice and other skin parasites.

  • 18 of 20

    Do Horses Eat Meat?

    Horse eating hay.
    Horses can, but probably shouldn't eat meat. Image: Mac99/Getty Images

    Horses can eat meat and there are instances when horses were fed meat diets, such as during early expeditions to Antarctica, when horses were fed fish meal as part of their diet. However, given a choice, horses don't usually eat meat, and because their digestive system isn't designed to digest meat, it might not be good for them in the long term. Horses have the digestive system of a herbivore and are healthiest eating good grass or hay.

  • 19 of 20

    Do Horses Have Feelings?

    Newborn foal in stall with mare; College Park, Maryland, United States of America
    Horses have feelings. Edwin Remsberg / Getty Images

    Horses have feelings and express them through facial expressions and body language. Some horses are very emotional and others are more reserved. Facial expressions might be hard for a non-horse person to see, but many horses have expressive eyes and muzzles that show how they are feeling. Their ears and tails are other obvious indicators of they may be thinking and feeling.

    Horses are also very sensitive skinned. They can feel a tiny fly landing on their coat, and are able to shiver away pests with very precise movements of their muscles and skin.

  • 20 of 20

    Are Horses and Donkeys the Same Species?

    Horses And Donkey On Grassy Field Seen Through Fence
    Equus asinus and Equus caballus are two distinct species. Betty Blahna / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Horse and donkeys are from the same family, that of the Equidae, that includes horses, asses, and zebras. They are of the same genus, Equus. However, donkeys are the species Equus asinus and modern horses are Equus caballus. The Prezwalski's horse, the last truly wild horse is the species Equus virus sap. Przewalskii. The offspring of a donkey and a horse is called a mule. Mules are not able to reproduce (with exceedingly rare exceptions).