Horses

The Friesian (also Frizian) is a horse breed originating in Friesland, in the Netherlands. Although the conformation of the breed resembles that of a light draught horse, Friesians are graceful and nimble for their size. It is believed that during the Middle Ages, ancestors of Friesian horses were in great demand as war horses throughout continental Europe. Through the Early Middle Ages and High Middle Ages, their size enabled them to carry a knight in armour. In the Late Middle Ages, heavier, draught type animals were needed. Though the breed nearly became extinct on more than one occasion, the modern day Friesian horse is growing in numbers and popularity, used both in harness and under saddle. Most recently, the breed is being introduced to the field of dressage.

The horse adapted to survive in areas of wide-open terrain with sparse vegetation, surviving in an ecosystem where other large grazing animals, especially ruminants, could not.[118] Horses and other equids are odd-toed ungulates of the order Perissodactyla, a group of mammals that was dominant during the Tertiary period. In the past, this order contained 14 families, but only three—Equidae (the horse and related species), Tapiridae (the tapir), and Rhinocerotidae (the rhinoceroses)—have survived to the present day.[119]

The Morgan horse originated from a stallion given to Justin Morgan of Vermont around 1795. This breed has become a most versatile horse for riding, pulling carriages, farm labour, and cattle cutting. It was the ideal army charger. It stands about 15 hands high and is robust, good-natured, willing, and intelligent. Its coat is dark brown or liver chestnut.

The Andalusian, a high-stepping spirited horse, and the small but enduring Barb produced the Lipizzaner, which was named after the stud farm founded near Trieste, Italy, in 1580. Originally of all colours, the Lipizzaner is gray or, now exceptionally, bay. It is small, rarely over 15 hands high, of powerful build but with slender legs and with a long silky mane and tail. Intelligence and sweetness of disposition as well as gracefulness destined it for academic horsemanship, notably as practiced at the Spanish Riding School of Vienna.

Horses are frequently used in television, films and literature. They are sometimes featured as a major character in films about particular animals, but also used as visual elements that assure the accuracy of historical stories.[203] Both live horses and iconic images of horses are used in advertising to promote a variety of products.[204] The horse frequently appears in coats of arms in heraldry, in a variety of poses and equipment.[205] The mythologies of many cultures, including Greco-Roman, Hindu, Islamic, and Norse, include references to both normal horses and those with wings or additional limbs, and multiple myths also call upon the horse to draw the chariots of the Moon and Sun.[206] The horse also appears in the 12-year cycle of animals in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar.[207]

The largest horse in recorded history was probably a Shire horse named Mammoth, who was born in 1848. He stood 21.2 1⁄4 hands (86.25 inches, 219 cm) high and his peak weight was estimated at 1,524 kilograms (3,360 lb).[28] The current record holder for the world's smallest horse is Thumbelina, a fully mature miniature horse affected by dwarfism. She is 17 in (43 cm) tall and weighs 57 lb (26 kg).[29]

The useful life of a horse varies according to the amount of work it is required to do and the maintenance furnished by its owner. A horse that is trained carefully and slowly and is given the necessary time for development may be expected to serve to an older age than a horse that is rushed in its training. Racehorses that enter into races at the age of two rarely remain on the turf beyond eight. Well-kept riding horses, on the contrary, may be used more than 20 years.

Appaloosa is a colour breed (see above) said to have descended in the Nez Percé Indian territory of North America from wild mustangs, which in turn descended from Spanish horses brought to the New World by explorers. The Appaloosa is 14.2 to 15.2 hands high, of sturdy build and of most diverse use; it is especially good in farmwork. There are various breeds of spotted horses in Europe and Asia, and the actual source of the spotting pattern in the Appaloosa is uncertain.

Horses exhibit a diverse array of coat colors and distinctive markings, described by a specialized vocabulary. Often, a horse is classified first by its coat color, before breed or sex.[41] Horses of the same color may be distinguished from one another by white markings,[42] which, along with various spotting patterns, are inherited separately from coat color.