Dealing with an equine can be challenging, but with those encounters come some gratifying moments. Unfortunately, the industry is full of many myths about horses. We want to set the record straight. After working with these beautiful animals for many years, we ask our staff veterinarian Dr. Cole Younger, DVM for help with these misconceptions and folklore. Many things have been taken out of context while other things are downright false. Have you heard any of these misconceptions?
Myth #1: You Should Never Walk or Stand Behind A Horse
A full-grown horse can weigh anywhere from 850-2,200 pounds. It’s sage advice not to get behind or in front of any large animal, but it’s just a blanket statement. You should know the horse, their temperament and what’s acceptable to them. Take for instance braiding a horsetail. Many people love to engage in this activity. However, some horses are known to bite when they have their tail bothered. So, in this instance, it may be better to be behind the horse rather than in front of it. New riders should always stay in plain sight, but once the horse has become accustomed to you, then there is no reason that you can’t go all the way around them without an issue.
Myth #2: Horses Cannot See Color
While horses don’t see the vast array of colors that a human can, they do see color. An individual can detect yellow, red, green, and blue. The retina mixes these colors allowing you to differentiate from hundreds of color variations. Consequently, a horse is different because they have dichromatic vision, which only allows them to see two distinct hues. They don’t see the hundreds of intermediate colors; instead, they see blues and yellows. When other colors are before then, experts believe they see them as a white or gray. While their pallet is not quite as advanced as yours, they still get to enjoy nature in an intriguing display.
Myth #3: Equines Sleep Standing Up and Never Laying Down
Around Oak Haven Acres, we see lots of horses standing to get their rest. However, we also see horses lying peacefully on the ground sleeping too. So, we know right off that this one is a myth. Horses cannot achieve REM sleep unless they are laying down, but they don’t need to lie down much as they don’t need near this amount of deep sleep as a human. The reason why a horse stands to sleep is that they want to be more aware of their surroundings. They won’t lay down to rest unless they feel very comfortable and safe.
Myth #4: Rescues Take Older Horses Too
Because we work with older horses, we know about the limitations of rescues. A rescue is a non-profit agency that takes in horses with the intention of finding them new homes. Many people who have older horses that need medical care, and have issues they cannot afford, may turn to these agencies for help. While there are exceptions to the rule, most will not take an owner-donated horse.
The reason is most of these places cannot take in the older animals is because they are limited in space and resources. If you find an agency that is willing to take the equine, they will not allow visiting privileges as the owner waives all rights. At Oak Haven Acres, we are different as we are a boarding facility. Here, you can still visit your animals and ensure they are getting the best care possible.
Myth #5: There Are Hot-and-Cold Blooded Horses
Probably the ridiculous myth floating around is that horses are hot and cold-blooded, and nothing could be further from the truth. Just like all the other mammals in the world, a horse is a warm-blooded animal. When a person refers to their blood as “hot” or “cold,” they are referring to their personality and not their internal temperature.
Take for instance the Arabian or the Thoroughbred horses. These are spirited animals that are meant for riding. They love adventure and are often referred to as hot-blooded animals because of their energy levels. They enjoy mingling with people and have a spunky nature about them. On the other hand, the cold-blooded animals have a calmer temperament and are great at getting work done on a farm or different setting. They can pull sleds and haul people on a buggy. You will most likely see breeds like the Belgians and Clydesdales in the working class.
Did you learn something new about horses today? When it comes to equines, even with decades of work you find unique and exciting things out every day.