How Much Do You Really Know About Horses?

By: Zoe Samuel
Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Horses used to be pretty much essential to a functioning society. Getting from A to B with any sort of speed, carrying any significant amount of freight, or simply lording it over the peasants was pretty much impossible without a horse. Horses were friends, workers, status symbols and assets. A good stable was a key part of any working farm or estate. In cities, as late as 1910, there were emergency meetings about what to do about all the horse dung that was clogging up the streets and would inevitably destroy the city entirely in another generation due to growth in the horse population. However, once cars came of age, it only took 15 years for them to almost entirely displace horses on our roads. Now horses are almost entirely used for recreation, outside of a few landscapes where they still work. They are amenities and companions instead of industrial cogs.

While everyone loves horses - at a distance if not up close - not everyone truly knows them. Knowing all about how to care for a horse is one thing, but knowing how horses got here and how they grow and function is the sign of a true horse lover. Are you one? Let's find out!

What is the smallest horse breed, on average?

Falabellas are tiny little horses, even smaller than Shetland ponies. They are usually smaller than 32 inches tall.

What is the collective noun for horses?

It's a herd of horses, as you doubtless know. Hang in there - this quiz is about to get harder.

When were horses first domesticated?

Horses were domesticated a few thousand years after farming was invented. Once the choke collar was replaced by traces, horses became critical to farming. In this way, the domestication of the horse is one of the most important historical events ever.

What is a baby horse called?

A male baby horse is a colt, a female is a filly. A foal is either.

What is the fastest horse breed?

Thoroughbreds are the fastest horses. They are a mix of English horses with Arabian.

What is special about Arab horses?

Arabians are among the oldest breeds and have one fewer vertebrae than other horses. They are also among the fastest, generally speaking.

What is the biggest breed, on average?

Shire horses are huge but they are one of the kindest, most agreeable breeds. They have nothing to prove, clearly.

What is colic?

Colic is an umbrella term for a few things. Horses cannot vomit so if they get a gut problem, it can really mess them up.

What other animal is most closely related to horses?

Donkeys are of course the most closely related to horses!

What is dressage?

Dressage is riding a horse in an elegant, flexible, beautiful routine. It's like floor work at the Olympics. A truly talented dressage horse is a joy to watch.

Why do horses wear shoes?

Horses like to be barefoot some of the year but generally speaking, shoes protect the whole foot from splitting, cracking, injury etc. There are different shoes for different landscapes.

What does it mean when a horse is spavined?

A horse that is spavined is probably out of competition for good, poor thing. There are good drugs for this but they are not permitted in competition horses.

What does it mean when a horse is "piebald"?

Piebald is black and white. Skewbald is brown and white.

What is special about a quarter horse?

The quarter horse's specialty is short sprints, hence the name.

What is a frog, as relevant to horses?

The frog of the hoof is a spongy part that protects the horse from impact. It's basically a little shock absorber.

Where is the withers?

The withers is where you measure the horse's height from. It is at the base of the neck.

What does it mean when a tail is docked?

Docking is banned in many places. Sometimes it is necessary if the horse is injured. However horses need their tails and there's no good reason to mutilate them.

What distinguishes a pony from a horse?

Ponies are smaller than horses - under 14.2 hands. They are also often a little less friendly.

How many teeth do horses have?

Adult horses have 40 teeth. A horse's tooth is like a tree ring in reverse: you can accurately tell the horse's age by looking at them, as well as a lot about the horse's health and history. That's why it is rude to look a gift horse in the mouth - because it suggests you think the giver is fobbing you off with a crappy old horse.

What are fetlocks?

Fetlocks are a tuft of hair at the ankle. They're very cute but they do pick up the muck! Shire horses have big beautiful feathery ones.

What are hocks?

A hock is essentially an ankle, though it's halfway up the leg. It has several joints in it.

What is a horse walker?

A horse walker is a device that ensures horses get exactly enough exercise, but no more. It's good for horses coming off an injury, who cannot be left in a field as they may hurt themselves.

Horses have four gaits. One of them is trotting. Which of the below is NOT one of the other three?

Walk, trot, canter, and gallop are the four gaits of a horse.

What does it mean to have "four in hand"?

Four horses pulling one carriage are "four in hand".

What is a flying change?

Flying change is when the horse's leading leg is switched. Canter is a three-beat gait, so it has one leg that lands in the front.

What is collected trot?

Collected trot looks pretty but is contrary to a horse's natural instinct, so it has to be learned. It's not uncomfortable for the horse, just a new skill.

Which of these is NOT a type of white face marking on a horse?

A sock is on the leg. A snip, blaze or star is on the face.

What color is a bright bay?

A bright bay has a reddish body and a black mane and tail.

What important Chinese equestrian invention came to Europe in the Middle Ages?

The stirrup was invented in China and made its way west. It is vastly easier to ride with stirrups.

What is the difference between bucking and rearing?

Rearing is when a horse rises up on its back legs. Bucking is the opposite.

What is shying?

Horses shy when they are startled, which happens a lot.

What are the Lipizzaner horses famous for?

The horses "dance" and it is very beautiful to watch - and also, not cruel, as they clearly enjoy it.

What's the process by which a horse can thicken its coat in the winter by up to 30%?

Piloerection is really what it is called. It fluffs up the fur to make the air get trapped, which warms the horse. It's basically like goosebumps.

Can horses sleep standing up?

They sure can! It's a great skill.

What is a horse's hoof made of?

That's right, it's the same thing as your nail! They walk on a great big nail.

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