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Why We Mount On The Left & Other Fun Horse Facts

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 Ever wondered why you do the things you do with your horse? If someone asked you, you would probably respond “that’s the way I was taught.” But why did they teach you that? We give you the answer below, plus some other fun facts about horses you probably never knew.

#1 – Why we mount on the left

This dates back to ancient Europe when gentlemen carried swords. The scabbard was usually on the left side of the body, so the man could draw the sword with his right. Therefore, in order to get on the horse unhindered by the scabbard, he had to mount on the left side. Makes you wonder if left-handed men mounted on the right? Interestingly, Xenophon in The Art of Horsemanship, which was written in 360 BC, said a true horseman should be able to mount on both sides.

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#2 – Why do we walk them on the left

Okay, so the first one makes sense, you don’t want your sword in the way when you mount. But why lead a horse on the left? Well it seems to be just for convenience. If you are leading your horse on the left, you can quickly mount if needed.

Image source: @William via Flickr
Image source: @William via Flickr

#3 – Mares have less teeth than stallions/geldings

You can tell the sex of a horse by the number of teeth they have. Stallions/geldings have 40 teeth while mares only have 36.

Image source: @zpics via Flickr
Image source: @zpics via Flickr

#4 –  More about horse teeth…

A horse’s teeth takes up more space in their skull than their brain does. No wonder some of them seem to only think about eating!

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#5 – Horses can see almost 360 degrees

Being a prey animal, the horse has eyes set on the side of the head, allowing them to see almost 360 degrees. According to Equine Medical Services, there is a small space directly behind the rump they cannot see if their head is straight forward. However, if they move their head, they can see this area as well! Pretty incredible.

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#6 – Horses can’t breathe through their mouths

Equines are obligate nose breathers, meaning they can only breathe their mouth. Why? The horse’s soft palate blocks off the pharynx from the mouth except when they swallow. This prevents accidental inhaling of food, but it also means horses cannot breathe through their mouth like we do, or pant to regulate heat like a dog does. (thehorse.com)  In fact, there has been some research into horses suffocating while wearing a bit because the mouth is open, thus releasing the soft-palate.

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#7 – Horses have big eyes

Just how big? Bigger than any other land mammal!

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#8 – Wild horses aren’t wild

While we Americans refer to our wonderful Mustangs as “wild horses” and The Australian Brumbies are also seen as wild – technically they are all feral horses. A feral animal is one that lives in the wild but was once domesticated or is descended from domesticated animals. There is only one true wild horse still in existence and that is the famed Przewalski’s horse. (animals.nationalgeographic.com)

 

By Claudia Feh - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40820924
Image source: Claudia Feh – wikimedia 

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