I have always had a love for horses. I remember when I was a little girl and I loved to get books about horses from the library. They enchant and amaze me. I have had some experience with them but not much. I've had a few riding lessons and lived in close proximity to horses when I was young. I had free rein to ride them bare back and spend time with them. I have some questions about them and went online recently to answer these and thought perhaps readers here would be interested in the answers I found.
1. Why do horses lie down?
If a horse feels comfortable somewhere they will lay down. They are animals and can be seen as prey by other wild animals so unless the horse feels at ease in their surroundings they won't lay down. They love to itch their backs and roll in the dusty dirt. It is only bad for a horse to be in a laying position if they are experiencing collic since it is a blockage usually and being down isn't going to help this at all. However, if they are not showing signs of colic they should be fine. Laying down is relaxing and at times in the wild you may see one lying down and another one standing on watch until it's their turn.
2. Do horses laugh?
I have often seen horses with their lips peeled back and it looks like they are laughing. Actually a horse has an organ in their nasal cavity called the voneronasal organ. This usually happens more with stallions and has to do with the brain's sexual behavior center. It is used in deciphering the pheromones a mare emits. A horse may do this if you are wearing perfume or lotion on your hands. What you are seeing is basically when the male horse is checking out the females urine to see if she is in heat.
3. How do horse communicate?
A horse communicates through body language. A dominant horse will raise it's head with it's chin up and ears folded back to get another horse to move. The dominant animal may also bite another on the hindquarters or shoulder to get them to move. They may also push them. The horse also uses its tail to communicate fear or excitement. The tail hidden between their legs means fear. They will raise their tails when excited. A spinning tail means they are mad or annoyed. Pinned back ears mean they are frustrated.
4. Do horses have tempers?
If a horse has had good horsemanship and good training there shouldn't be a problem. Sometimes a horseman doesn't know that they actually may need to go back to the basics and reteach the horse. Especially if you have a new horse. Timing and balance come into play here. A frustrated animal may seem to have a temper but it may just be lack of understanding on the horseman's behalf.
5. How old is the average age for a horse?
It seems that the fifties are the average age for horses. One named Shayne in Brentwood, UK is said to be the oldest horse on record although he doesn't have a valid birth certificate. He was brought to the Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary in 2007 and is in his fifties.
The title of oldest living horse in the world was held by a Welsh/Arab named Badger from Pembrokeshire, Wales. He died at age 51, in 2004.
I hope that the answers I've found to these questions will start a conversation and open some awareness. Horses are wonderful animals and I think we need to really understand them to enjoy them fully.