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Horse and foal
The horse (Equus ferus caballus) is a hoofed (ungulate) mammal, a subspecies of one of seven extant species of the family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today. Humans began to domesticate horses around 4000 BC, and their domestication is believed to have been widespread by 3000 BC; by 2000 BC the use of domesticated horses had spread throughout the Eurasian continent. Although most horses today are domesticated, there are still populations of wild and feral horses. There are over 300 breeds of horses in the world today, developed for many different uses.

The horses anatomy enables them to make use of speed to escape predators and they have a well-developed sense of balance and a strong fight-or-flight instinct. Related to this need to flee from predators in the wild is an unusual trait: horses are able to sleep both standing up and lying down. Horses and humans interact in many ways, including a wide variety of sport competitions, non-competitive recreational pursuits and working activities. A wide variety of riding and driving techniques have been developed, using many different styles of equipment and methods of control. Many products are derived from horses, including meat, milk, hide, hair, bone, and pharmaceuticals extracted from the urine of pregnant mares.

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Equine nutrition is the feeding of all equines. Correct and balanced nutrition is a critical component of proper horse care. Horses are non-ruminant herbivores of a type known as a "hind-gut fermentor." This means that horses have only one stomach, as do humans. However, unlike humans, they also have to digest plant fiber (largely cellulose) that comes from grass and hay. Therefore, unlike ruminants, who digest fiber in plant matter by use of a multichambered stomach, horses use microbial fermentation in a part of the digestive system known as the cecum (or caecum) to break down the cellulose.

In practical terms, horses prefer to eat small amounts of food steadily throughout the day, as they do in nature when grazing on pasture. The digestive system of the horse is somewhat delicate, and they are sensitive to molds and toxins. Horses are unable to regurgitate food, except from the esophagus. Thus, if they overeat or eat something poisonous, vomiting is not an option. They also have a long, complex large intestine and a balance of beneficial microbes in their cecum that can be upset by rapid changes in feed. Because of these factors, they are very susceptible to colic, which is a leading cause of death in horses. Therefore, horses require clean, high-quality feed, provided at regular intervals, and may become ill if subjected to abrupt changes in their diets.

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Brewster park drag 1887.jpg
The Cleveland Bay is breed of horse originating in Great Britain during the Middle Ages. It is a well-muscled horse, with legs that are strong but short in relation to the body. The horses are always bay in color. They are the oldest established horse breed in England, and the only non-heavy horse developed in Great Britain. They were originally developed for use as pack horses, where they gained their nickname of "Chapman Horses". Over the years, the breed became lighter in frame as they were employed more as carriage and riding horses. The popularity of the Cleveland Bay has greatly fluctuated since it was first imported to the United States in the early 1800s. Despite serious declines in the population after World War II, the breed has experienced a resurgence in popularity since the 1980s.

The breed has also been used to develop and improve several warmblood and draft horse breeds. Today they are used for farm and driving, as well as under-saddle work. They are used especially for fox hunting, both pure blooded and when crossed with Thoroughbreds. The Cleveland Bay is a rare breed, and both the United Kingdom-based Rare Breeds Survival Trust and the United States-based American Livestock Breeds Conservancy consider the population to be at critical limits for extinction.


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Credit: Andreas Tille

An Icelandic horse near Krýsuvík. The Icelandic horse is a breed of horse developed in Iceland. The breed develops late, but is long-lived and hardy. The Icelandic displays five gaits, rather than the typical three displayed by most other breeds. The breed is popular outside of Iceland, with sizable populations in Europe and North America.




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