The Domesticated Horse Essay

1841 words - 7 pages

he horse, Equus ferus caballus, is a subspecies from the family Equidae. Over the past 50 million years, through survival adaptations, the common horse has evolved from a relatively small, multi-toed animal into the large, single toed animal known today (Wilson,. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore).

Domestication of the common horse is believed to have started around 4000 BC, becoming common during the early 3000 BC (Wilson,. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore).

Domestication is a process in which wild species are removed their natural habitat and are acclimatised to surviving and breeding in captive. Animals are domesticated for purposes which, in general, are designed to be beneficial to humans. These reasons commonly include labour, food sources and companionship. Over generations, domestication results in genetic and physiological changes in the organism (Wilson,. Mammal Species of the World (3rd Ed.). Baltimore).

Taming is different to domestication in that tamed animals are born in the wild, removed, trained and the process repeated, while domesticated animals are bred in captivity (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2nd Ed).

Although most horses today are domesticated, in certain countries there are endangered populations of wild horses, including the Przewalski’s horse, found in Central Asia (The Foundation for the Preservation and Protection of the Przewalski Horse, 2008).

Depending on mitigating factors such as environment and breed, the domestic horse has a life span of 25-30 years. Horses undergo various stages of development, and a horse may be defined further (Ensminger Horses and Horsemanship pp. 46–50).

A juvenile horse of either sex, under the age of one, is known as a foal. A foal which nurses may be called a suckling, and once weaned is a weanling. A horse of either gender under the age of 3 is known as a yearling.
After this stage, a male horse under the age of four, is a colt, while a female is a filly. A fully matured female horse is defined as a mare, while a fully matured male is known as a stallion. A male horse which has been castrated is defined as a gelding, which is more commonly found in sporting arenas.

The behaviour of horses is very dependent on the breed, environment and personality of the animal. It is also subjective to the weather, and other animals, especially horses, that they interact with.
For example, a horse has a reflex commonly known as the “Flight Response”. This means that when faced by a predator, instead of fight or defend, the horse would rather run from the predator. Another example of behaviour change is when the horse is alone, or in a pack. A pack mentality can cause aggression and show an obvious hierarchy amongst both female and male animals, and can cause a horse to feel either settled, or unsettled due to the familiarity of the situation. Either way, the animal will show very different behaviours in both situations.
Horses both wild and...

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