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15 Interesting & Unusual Horse Facts

Do horses really have two brains? And what's the deal with those muscly ears? Find out with our mane event - this list of amazing horse facts!

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Beano Facts Team
Last Updated:  August 10th 2022

Oh hay there! So, horses are incredible animals that can run up to 55mph, haul giant loads and have a personality like no other. If you're here you must be a huge horse fan - yay or neigh? Well anyway - quit foaling around and read on to learn more about these majestic mammals! For other great animal info, you should check out these tortoise facts, hamster facts, or even these octopus facts!

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1. Horses don't breathe like we do

No, we don't mean they huff and snort all the time! Horses actually can't breathe through their mouths like we can - they can only breathe through their noses. The fancy scientific term for this is "obligate nose breathing" and it happens because their noses and mouths are totally separate - whilst ours are joined up at the back.

2. They have really big teeth

Or do they have small brains? You see, a horse's teeth take up more room inside their head than their brains do! Another side fact is that horse's teeth don't get bigger as they age - something you might have assumed from the phrase "long in the tooth" (which comes from horses). In fact, horse's gums just shrink a bit as they get older, so their teeth look bigger. There you go, two horse's teeth facts for the price of one!

3. Horses have 2 brains… Sort of

Most animal brains (including ours) are split into 2 halves called hemispheres. In horses, the bit that connects these two halves is very underdeveloped. This means horses find it much harder than we do to send messages from one side of the brain to the other. So horses need to learn tricks twice - once on one side and once on the other!

4. Horses can sleep standing up

Horses have a very clever set of muscles that basically locks them in place whilst they sleep. They also use these muscles when they want to rest whilst they're standing up. This helps them save energy and keeps them ready to run if a predator comes near! Because you can never be too careful!

5. They're quick off the mark

Horses

In fact, if a predator does come near they can respond SUPER fast. A horse's reaction time is just 0.3 seconds, whilst the average human does it in about 1.6 seconds! When they need to, horses will either start running or lash out with a powerful kick - but whatever they choose, they do it fast!

6. They have very muscly ears

This is another feature that horses evolved to help them survive out in the wilds - muscly ears! Horses have 10 muscles in their ears, whilst humans have only 3. This allows horses to swivel their ears round almost 180 degrees, independently of each other! This neat party trick helps them hear sounds from a long way away, and work out exactly where it's coming from.

7. They can see almost 360 degrees

Horses have HUGE eyes - the biggest ones of any land mammal. And because their eyes are on either side of their head, horses can see danger coming from any direction. The only places they can't see is right behind them and right in front of them - right under their noses! So horses can smell the apple you might give them - but they can't see it! As annoying as that might be for them, it's worth it to be able to see all the way around your head!

8. Horses are very clever

You probably knew this one already! Horses can be taught all kinds of tricks, much like dogs and other very intelligent animals (like you)! Horses have relationships with other horses, their trainers, and can even communicate the things they want. One bit of research showed how horses can learn to tap different symbols to ask for a blanket to be put on them or taken off. Amazing!

9. Horses have been on Earth for 55 million years!

That's a really long time! The earliest horses were likely very small things - about the size of a dog. And we've not been riding horses for anywhere near that time. In fact, humans only turned up about 1 million years ago (or less, depending on how you count it) and it took us a long time to pluck up the courage to try and ride one. Horses were first used by humans about 6000 years ago - which is basically yesterday compared to 55 million years!

10. They have some pretty big relatives

Rhino horn

Horses are actually related to... wait for it... the rhinocerous! That's right, the rhino is in the same family of animals as horses, just a different part of the family tree. Over the millions of years of earth's history there have been a lot of different members of the horse family, but the only ones left now are horses, tapirs and rhinos!

11. There's only one type of wild horse left

The world's only really wild horse is known as Przewalski's horse. It's a totally different species to the kind of horse we all know, and even has a different number of chromosomes. They still look like horses, but a little bit chunkier. The Przewalski's horse can now only be found in the wilds of Mongolia, it's home for (probably) many millions of years.

12. Horses can't burp or throw up!

Cool fact! The reason for this is when a horse gallops its intestines slap up into it's stomach - so if it could burp or throw up, it would do it every time it ran! Which would be very inconvenient. So instead, horses have evolved a kind of muscly ring at the top of their stomach that keeps all the juicy stuff in. You must be glad you know that, right?

13. They make a lot of noise

Horses can make a huge range of sounds, much more than many other animals. These include winnying, neighing, snorting - and other weird sounds that are hard to describe. Not only are these often quite funny, they mean a lot to horses and are how they communicate their mating calls and warn others of danger.

14. The $70,000,000 horse

This is the most expensive horse ever sold - Fusaichi Pegasus - a prize-winning stallion that won the 2000 Kentucky Derby. Fusaichi (or FuPeg to his fans) was sold to a thorough-bred breeding program called Coolmore Stud, to try and breed even more super-fast horses! In the end, FuPeg didn't produce any new winners, but his grandson went on to win a big race! So maybe the $70 million wasn't a huge waste!

15. Horses love to dribble

Wait - this is the last fact? You're joking, right? Well it's more impressive than you might think! Horses actually produce 10 gallons of saliva every day - that's 45 litres! For reference, us humans are meant to drink about 3-4 litres a day (obviously don't drink horse saliva though)! Yep, them there hosses really can hock up some spit when they need to!