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Top 10 Horse Myths Busted: Facts Horse Owners Should Know

Published on: June 24, 2024

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

Horses have been our companions for centuries, yet there are many myths and misconceptions about them. These myths can lead to misunderstandings and improper care, affecting their well-being. In this article, I debunk the top 10 horse myths, providing you with accurate information and insights.

Picture of a horse lying on the ground sleeping. Debunking the horse myth, horse only sleep standing.
Horses often lie down to achieve deep REM sleep.

Myth 1: Horses Sleep Standing Up

Debunked: While horses can doze standing up thanks to a unique locking mechanism in their legs, they require lying down to achieve deep REM sleep. This stage of sleep is essential for their overall health and well-being. Horses often lie down in a safe environment, typically when they feel secure in their surroundings.

  • Locking mechanism: Enables them to rest without falling over.
  • REM sleep: Essential for mental and physical health.
  • Lying down: Indicates they feel safe and secure.

Myth 2: White Horses are Always Albino

Debunked: True albino horses, characterized by pink skin and red eyes, are extremely rare. Most “white” horses are actually gray horses that have lightened with age. Gray horses are born dark and gradually turn white as they age due to a genetic trait.

  • Albino characteristics: Pink skin, red eyes.
  • Gray horses: Born dark, lighten with age.
  • Genetic trait: Causes color change over time.
Gray horse standing in a field.
Gray horses lighten with age, unlike true albinos.

Myth 3: Horses Have Poor Memory

Debunked: Horses have excellent memories and can remember people, places, and experiences for many years. They can recall training cues and routines, recognize familiar faces, and remember positive and negative experiences, which is why consistent, positive reinforcement is crucial in training.

  • Training cues: Remembered over long periods.
  • Familiar faces: Horses recognize and remember.
  • Positive reinforcement: Key to effective training.

Myth 4: A Horse’s Age Can Be Determined by Its Teeth

Debunked: While examining a horse’s teeth can give an estimate of its age, it is not always accurate, especially as the horse gets older. Dental wear can vary based on diet, environment, and genetics. Other methods, like veterinary records and physical examinations, provide more reliable age estimates.

  • Teeth examination: Provides an estimate, but it is not precise.
  • Dental wear: Influenced by various factors.
  • Reliable methods: Veterinary records and exams.
YouTube video

Myth 5: Horses are Colorblind

Debunked: Horses can see some colors, particularly blues and greens, but they have a more limited color spectrum compared to humans. They are dichromatic, meaning they see two primary colors, unlike humans who are trichromatic. This ability affects how they perceive their environment and can influence their behavior and training.

  • Color vision: Limited but present.
  • Dichromatic vision: Sees two primary colors.
  • Environmental perception: Influences behavior and training.
Horse swimming in water.
Horses are natural swimmers and enjoy the activity.

Myth 6: Horses Can’t Swim

Debunked: Horses are natural swimmers and can swim well. Swimming benefits horses as it provides low-impact exercise, aids in muscle development, and can be used for rehabilitation and therapy. Many horses enjoy swimming, and it can be a fun and healthy activity for them.

  • Natural swimmers: Horses swim effectively.
  • Benefits: Low-impact exercise, muscle development.
  • Rehabilitation: Used in therapy for injuries.

Myth 7: Horses Need to be Stabled at All Times to Stay Healthy

Debunked: While stabling can protect horses from extreme weather and provide controlled environments for feeding, horses are naturally designed to live outdoors. Regular turnout in pastures is beneficial for their physical and mental health, allowing them to move freely, graze, and socialize with other horses.

  • Outdoor living: Natural and healthy for horses.
  • Turnout benefits: Physical and mental health.
  • Socialization: Important for horse well-being.

Myth 8: Horses with White Feet are Unsound or Low Quality

Debunked: You’ve probably heard the old saying, “One white foot, buy him; two white feet, try him; three white feet, look well about him; four white feet, go without him.” This myth suggests that horses with white feet are more prone to health issues or are of lower quality. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.

The soundness and quality of a horse are determined by various factors, including genetics, conformation, and overall health care. Proper hoof care and management are essential for all horses, regardless of the color of their feet.

  • No correlation: White feet and horse soundness or quality.
  • Common causes: Health issues arise from genetics, conformation, and care.
  • Prevention: Consistent hoof care and management practices.

Myth 9: Horses are Not Intelligent

Debunked: Horses are highly intelligent animals capable of learning complex tasks, understanding human emotions, and forming strong social bonds. They can solve problems, remember intricate training routines, and communicate effectively with their handlers. Their intelligence makes them versatile and valuable companions in various disciplines.

  • Learning tasks: Complex and varied.
  • Emotional understanding: Horses sense human emotions.
  • Communication: Effective with handlers.
Debunking myths, this is a picture of Quarter Horses racing on a track.
Quarter Horses excels in sprint racing events.

Myth 10: Only Thoroughbreds are Suitable for Racing

Debunked: While Thoroughbreds are known for flat racing, many other breeds excel in various types of racing events. Standardbreds are prominent in harness racing, Quarter Horses are known for their speed in sprint racing, and Arabians are favored in endurance racing. The diversity of horse breeds in racing showcases the unique strengths and capabilities of each breed.

  • Racing breeds: Beyond Thoroughbreds.
  • Standardbreds: Harness racing.
  • Quarter Horses: Sprint racing.
  • Arabians: Endurance racing.

Conclusion: Horse Myths Debunked

Understanding and debunking common horse myths is essential for anyone involved with horses. By spreading accurate information, we can ensure better care and appreciation for these incredible animals. Do you have any myths or questions about horses? Share your experiences, and let’s continue the conversation!

Additional Resources

For further reading on horse myths and accurate equine information, consider these authoritative sources:

  1. American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP)
    • This resource provides insights into common misconceptions about horse care and debunks them with evidence-based information from veterinary professionals.
  2. UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
    • This educational resource provides scientifically-backed information on horse health, addressing and correcting many common myths and misconceptions.
  3. American Farriers Association
    • Improving the welfare of the horse and farrier profession.

These resources can help you gain a deeper understanding of horse care and ensure you have access to accurate, reliable information. Visit the provided links for more details and to explore additional topics related to equine health and management.

Visit Horse Racing Sense for more articles and insights about horses.