In our previous blog we discussed many of the myths that surround the people who take horseback riding lessons or spend a lot of their time trail riding; myths that tend to dog equestrians. Some people seem to think that the horses aren’t treated well, when in truth most horse owners tend to spend a lot of time with them and treat them like family. Spending so much time with horses lead to the myth that people who spend time with horses only care about horses, when in fact we’re like everyone else and have varied interests. Two other myths we dispelled had to do with it being only rich people, namely girls, who ride horses; the fact is, people from all walks of life, boys and girls, enjoy riding horses. We also talked about the myth that horses are forced to do activities they don’t want to do during horseback riding, when in fact we’re simply taking advantages of the horses’ natural interest in walking, running, and jumping.
But those are all myths about the horse riders themselves and what they do with the horses during lessons or on a trail riding. What myths surround the horses themselves? Let’s take a look at some of the myths we’ve heard here in Lake Worth.
MYTH: Horses With Broken Legs Must Be Killed
We’re so glad that this isn’t the case…today, at least. In the past, a horse with a broken limb might not live much of a life, and it might have been kinder to put it down than to abandon it, living, to the coyotes of the Old West or the gray wolf of the Eurasian Steppe. The idea that “every horse with a broken leg must be put down immediately” is something that most people have picked up from movies, a writer’s trick to increase the tension and put roadblocks in the protagonist’s way while showing us how emotional they are at the loss of their horse.
Luckily, horses of today can, and often do, recover from broken legs. It’s not an easy process, but it’s often worth it. It’s true that racehorses will most likely never race again, but they can still be used for breeding similarly fast horses.
MYTH: Horse Colors Determine Their Temperament
Have you ever noticed that people with brown eyes tend to be more aggressive? Or those with blue eyes are kinder?
You haven’t? It’s because it’s a myth that eye color can indicate a person’s personality. Horses have similar myths regarding their coats. For instance, gray horses are mean. (Not true) Black horses will throw you. (Only as much as any other horse!) It’s just a myth that a horses’ coat will tell you anything about them
MYTH: Horses Always Sleep On Their Feet
Have you ever wondered why horses sleep on their feet? If you’re really into horses and are here for horse riding lessons, you probably already know. But for those of you who are just interested in a single afternoon’s trail ride, you might not know why (and how) they do it.
As large as horses are, they’re still considered prey animals. Wolves and bears are hunters of horses all over the world, and horse cousins (such as zebras) have had to deal with large cats for millennia. As prey animals, they have to be ready to flee at a moment’s notice, and with horses being so large and having straight backs, the seconds it takes them to get up from a resting position on the ground means they could be lunch to a fast predator. That’s why horses will have most of their naps standing up. Horses have special legs that they can “lock” in place, and “unlocking” them takes a lot less time than getting up off the ground should a predator appear.
There are situations in which horses can lie down and take a full nap. When it comes to wild or feral horses, they might move to the center of the herd while others graze or watch for predators. For domesticated horses, they’re smart creatures; they might simply learn that there are no predators around. Even though their instincts might tell them to do most of their sleeping standing up, they’re more than happy to nap on the ground on a hot day and give their legs a rest. If you see a horse on the ground, there’s really no reason to assume that they are sick or injured; they might just be showing how comfortable they are in their surroundings!
MYTH: Horses Are Color Blind
No, horses aren’t colorblind, but their color is limited when compared to human eyesight. They actually see more akin to dogs, as both species have 2 cones in the eye that see yellow and blues. Humans have three cones in the eyes, which allows most of us to see all the colors of the rainbow. Why the difference? Each animal has the number of rods and cones in the eye that it needs to survive. (The real question is why mantis shrimp have so many: 16! They can see UV, visible, and circular polarized light. These shrimp can see things you can’t imagine!)
MYTH: Horse Shouldn’t Drink Cold Water
We’re really not sure where this came from, but there’s nothing to worry about. There’s really no truth to this myth, and it’s perfectly fine to let a hot horse drink cold water. (We should know…we’re in Florida!) If a horse has just been part of a horse riding lesson or has been trail riding in the heat, they should drink lots of water as part of the cooling-down period. The opposite, i.e. not letting a horse drink water just because the water is cold, would be a much worse situation. All animals need hydration, and refusing water to a thirsty horse can be cruel and dangerous. Not only that, but there are many wild horse breeds that live in places — again, the Eurasian Steppe comes to mind — that are cold most of the year and only have cold water.
Interestingly, the same myth has even made its way to humans. People might think that drinking cold water can cause the fats in your intestines to solidify (or some such), but the truth of the matter is that water is warmed up by your esophagus and stomach before it can cause any such harm.
Want To Learn More Truths About Horses?
We’d love it if you stopped by, whether you take horseback riding lessons for years or if you simply stop by for some trail riding in Lake Worth during your vacation to Florida. If you’ve heard of other myths about horses, we’d love to talk with you about them. Contact us today for some great riding with some amazing horses!