One of the most popular animals on Earth have existed for more than 50 million years, originating in North America and then spreading to Asia and Europe. It is the horse. Horses are ungulates which are mammals with hooves. They have long tails, muscular torsos, long thick necks, elongated heads, and short hair.

Most have been domesticated and are found all over the world. At one time, though, about 10,000 years ago, the horses in North America became extinct but were re-introduced by Europeans who became early colonists. The horses were first domesticated in Asia between 3000 and 4000 BC but were mostly used for milk and meat. Later, horses joined oxen as a form of animal transportation.

They are currently found in almost every country in the world except on the continent of Antarctica. The Abyssinian horse is found in Ethiopia, Deliboz is from Georgia and Armenia, Budyonny comes from Russia, the Colorado Rangerbred comes from the Colorado plains, and of course, the Egyptian is from Egypt. Contrary to popular belief, mustangs are not wild horses but are descendants of Spanish horses that are called Iberian horses.

There are more than 400 breeds of horses and most can be as tall as 69 inches from hoof to shoulder and weigh more than 2,200 pounds. The smallest breeds of horses are as small as 30 inches from hoof to shoulder and weigh only about 120 pounds. Horses have live births after around 11 months of gestation, but a baby horse is not called a pony, but a foal.

Ponies, on the other hand, are smaller adult horses that are shorter than 56 inches from hoof to shoulder and become mature after 3 to 5 years. The Faeroes Pony Horse is found on the Faeroe Islands in the North Atlantic. It is one of the oldest breeds of horses. This breed is very rare, to the point of almost being extinct.

Horses are very social animals and live in groups called herds. In the wild, the herds consist of about three to 20 animals and are led by a mature male called a stallion. Male foals are driven away from the herd by the stallion, and the young foals ban together in a herd until they find a herd of females they can lead. Some of the herd is also made up of females and their young.

The diet of horses is vegetarian as they are herbivores and mostly eat grass; however, domesticated horses are fed bran, oats, barley, and hay. A horse may eat approximately 1 to 2 percent of its body weight in grass and hay every day. Domesticated horses are given blocks of salt and mineral blocks to lick to supplement the nutrition the horses normally get from their other food. A horse must graze throughout the day to get enough food because they have a very small stomach.

All horses have four speeds which are called gaits. They can walk at a slow speed, trot at a little faster speed, canter which is faster than a trot, or gallop at their fastest speed or gait. In addition, horses have defined facial expressions such as an inner brow raise indicating a negative emotional situation as an expression of sadness or fear, an upper lip raise as another expression of fear and stress, and a lip corner puller as a gesture of submission.

Horses are popular animals and have existed for over 50 million years and will continue to be domesticated and used by many people throughout the world for a wide variety of purposes.

A: A mammal with webbed feet
B: A mammal with hooves
C: A mammal with short hair
D: A mammal with four legs

A: Pony
B: Mustang
C: Foal
D: Stallion

A: Pony
B: Mustang
C: Foal
D: Stallion

A: Herbivorous
B: Carnivorous
C: Omnivorous
D: None of the above

A: Walk, canter, trot, gallop
B: Walk, trot, canter, gallop
C: Gallop, trot, walk, canter
D: Trot, canter, walk, gallop

A: Africa
B: Australia
C: Asia
D: Antarctica

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