Domestic horse

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Domestic horse
Dülmen wild horses in the Merfelder Bruch

Dülmen wild horses in the Merfelder Bruch

Subclass : Higher mammals (Eutheria)
Superordinate : Laurasiatheria
Order : Unpaired ungulate (Perissodactyla)
Family : Horses (Equidae)
Genre : Horses ( equus )
Type : Domestic horse
Scientific name
Equus caballus
Linnaeus , 1758

The domestic horse ( Equus caballus ) is a common house - or livestock , which in many breeds exist around the world.

The domestic horse is the domesticated form of the wild horse ( Equus ferus ), which, together with donkeys and zebras, forms the horse family ( equidae , Equidae ) within the order of the odd-toed ungulates (Perissodactyla).



Different horses (lithograph)

The appearance of the domestic horse varies in its body type, height, coat and color. Depending on the purpose for which horses are bred, their types are divided into so-called cold - blooded , warm-blooded , thoroughbred , half - blooded and ponies . The terms cold, warm and whole blood are not based on the warmth or even the amount of blood in the horse, but rather describe the predominant temperament of the respective horse type. Cold-blooded animals generally react calmly and not very frightened, while thoroughbreds are more likely to be nervous and easily excitable.

  • Thoroughbreds are based on Arabian breeding and are mostly used as sport horses. A distinction is made between Arabic whole blood (ox) and English whole blood (xx). Both races are usually very sensitive and can reach speeds of up to 70 km / h (maximum speed; the maximum average speed over 160 km is around 12–20 km / h).
  • Cold-blooded horses are all horse breeds with a significantly stronger physique, but also a much gentler mind. These breeds often come from colder regions. Due to the calm temperament and strong build, these horse breeds are better suited than others for pulling heavy carriages and as back horses .
  • Warmbloods are breeds that began with a cross between cold and thoroughbred horses. In these breeds, some of which are centuries old, an attempt is made to emphasize the advantages of both breeds; that is, the elegance and speed of the Arabs as well as the calm temperament and robustness of the cold-blooded horses. As this has improved over the centuries, warm-blooded animals are suitable for practically all aspects of equestrian sport. These breeds have since been declared separate breeds.
  • Half-bloods are horses that are the result of a cross between thoroughbred and another breed of horse, so one of the parents must be a thoroughbred Arab. Offspring of two half-bloods no longer meet this criterion.
  • Ponies are small horses under 1.48 m height at the withers (also stick size) with mostly stocky build, strong teeth and long life expectancy, which can be kept robust and used for riding and driving .
Fawn colored fjord horses on the Swabian Alb . Typical feature: the dark eel line

Horses are tip- toe walking alone on the third, middle toe . The remaining toes have receded and are preserved on the skeleton of the foreleg as rudimentary stylus legs . Because the eyes are on the side of the head, horses can see almost all around (350 °), but have poor spatial vision. But what exactly is in front of your nose or behind you, you only notice when you turn your head. Although horses are not color-blind , they cannot distinguish all colors from one another. Horses cannot tell brown, green and gray apart - they see colors like white, red, yellow and blue particularly well. Horses see better in the dark than humans, but they need longer to adjust to rapid light-dark changes.

The horse's hearing is very fine. Each auricle can be rotated by 180 °, so the horse is able to position its ears so that it can hear in all directions.

For more information on the horse's physique, see: Exterior (horse) .

In order to be safe from predators in their original habitat, different coat colors of the horse developed over time , one of the first of which was a light brown shade called fallow . Typical representatives are the Norwegian fjord horses or Dülmener , which are also characterized by a distinct dark eel line in their mane.

Horse with a copper mouth and a star

In order to be able to distinguish a horse from others externally, one can take advantage of the markings on its face, its body and its legs. The most common badges on the face are: star, snip, flake and lantern, with a distinction between regular and irregular. The markings from forehead to mouth are generally referred to as blaze. Horses can also have a toad mouth, copper mouth, milk mouth or flour mouth, the latter is particularly common in the Mongolian wild horse or the Exmoor pony .

Rarely, depending on the breed and breeding area, also occur eel strokes, some of which continue in the tail and mane. In "primitive" breeds, crosses (eel line and a horizontal stripe across both shoulders) or stripes on the legs can occur. Crosses and stripes on the legs are rare in horses, but quite common in donkeys.

On the legs, one differentiates only the height of the badge, whereby a “bright white foot” is the largest and the “white crown” the smallest. Fur swirls and chestnuts (remains of horn on the inside of the legs, remains of the fifth toe) are also used to identify sport horses (see also badges ). Nowadays, competition horses can use transponders on which the personal data of the owner and the horse's life number are stored.

The permanent set of teeth of horses has 36 to 44 teeth, the milk teeth of foals have 24 to 28 teeth (see also tooth formula and tooth age estimate ).

Size, age, reproduction

Foals can follow the adults shortly after birth (here suckling Brumby foal).

Depending on the breed, horses reach between 40 cm (mini pony) and 220 cm ( Shire Horse ) shoulder height ( withers ). Horses with a height at the withers of up to 148 cm are called ponies. All horses that exceed this level are called large horses . The weight of the ponies and large horses can be between 90 kg ( Falabella ) and 1200 kg ( Shire ). Horses are fully grown at the age of seven. Large horses can reach an age of around 20–35 years, while ponies can, in rare cases, live up to 50 years. The highest age ever recorded for a large horse is 62 years . The age to be reached depends on breed, housing conditions and use. Mares reach sexual maturity at 12 to 18 months, stallions reach sexual maturity between 12 and 20 months of age. The gestation time for all horses is around 330 days (11 months) with a variation of 320 to 355 days. The earlier in the year the due date, the longer the wearing time. The oestrus cycle ( horses ) begins in spring with the strongest horse and then continues to decrease. Depending on the weather and the environment, the horse can vary in strength and length. In stables and with intensive feeding, pregnancies can also be produced in winter. Mares are only horsey every 21 to 24 days. After about 11 months the mare gives birth to her foal, which immediately tries to get up. This is important for a foal in the wild, otherwise it would fall prey to predators.


Typical behavior of a stallion in the presence of sturdy mares; so-called flehmen
Bucking mare
Mutual nibbling is a friendly social behavior

The horse is a typical herd animal and therefore has a distinctive body language for the animals to communicate with one another.

The movable auricles can be set in all directions. Standing alternately forwards and backwards, the horse shows attentiveness and curiosity, also towards the rider and driver. However, if the ears are placed back against the head, this is a warning to a supposed aggressor and usually signals the imminent defense against a perceived threat or an attempt at submission with hooves or teeth. If the ears hang to one side, this is either a sign of malaise and / or tiredness or an expression of submission, but also relaxation. The latter, if the eyes are half closed, can also be a sign of satisfaction.

The smallest social unit is a group of 3 to a maximum of 35 animals. The absolute upper limit is unclear, since in larger groups (20–35 animals) there are often several stallions, whereby a clear division into subgroups cannot be recognized. There is a clearly defined hierarchy within the group . In the event of changes within the group structure, e.g. B. The addition of a new animal or the departure of a group member, the order of precedence is redefined. This usually happens through body signals such as threatening gestures, but also bites and kicks if necessary. Observing interactions between other group members can also lead to a change in the ranking of the observing animal. It was proven in 2008 that horses observe the interactions of their group members and adjust their rank position accordingly. The ranking can also be called into question by adolescent animals that change their position in the herd as they develop. Here, however, it can often be observed that the young of a mare that is rather low in the ranking also have a lower ranking, whereas the young of a high-ranking mare also have better prospects of a higher ranking position.

Groups consist of several mares and their foals as well as a stallion, in larger groups sometimes several stallions. The fact that there are lead mares in groups of horses has not yet been proven in any scientific publication. Reports, even by horse whisperers , lack a scientific basis. It is currently unclear which animals, apart from the stallion when driving, trigger group movements. The stallion, on the other hand, is an imposing, powerful animal. He is responsible for protecting his herd from predators and for passing on his own genes. When escaping, different mares run ahead and the stallion runs behind the herd to drive the animals that remain behind.

Usually mares stay together in a group, young stallions are against it with the reaching maturity by the alpha male sold (strongest stallion) out of the herd and form associations Jung. In these they measure their strength against each other in order to one day conquer their own herd by challenging and defeating the lead stallion to a fight. In many cases, adult or older stallions also live as solitary animals.

Sometimes one or more mares break away from an existing group and join other groups or a younger stallion and form a new group with him.

Horses are flight animals , but donkeys have an innate flight or fight reaction. In contrast to horses, donkeys often live alone with their foals and an immediate escape is therefore not always possible without endangering the foal.

In Central Europe, mares and geldings are particularly common when they are kept as pets or livestock ( stallions instead of geldings on the Iberian Peninsula ), and in most cases they fit easily into a more or less large group. Stallions are considered difficult to predict because of their strong sexual drive and sometimes also because of their hormone-related aggressiveness. If the stallion senses a sturdy mare, he usually tries everything to get to her - if the pasture or the stable is inappropriately fenced, the stallions often get injuries. They are therefore usually kept on their own pastures or in separate stables.


The horse contains its genetic information in the cell nuclei in the form of 32 pairs of chromosomes (one of which is a sex chromosome pair ). The genome of a female English thoroughbred called "Twilight" was the basis for the first complete analysis of a horse genome in 2007; it contains 2,474,929,062 base pairs . An estimate of the number of genes is not known.

Domestication and History


Riding horses in a pasture

The wild horse, the ancestral form of the domestic horse, was probably around 3000 BC. Chr. In Central Asia domesticated , some authors such as Alan Outram assume a domestication in the 5th millennium BC. From ( Botai ). There are contradicting findings as to when and where exactly the horse was made usable by humans. An evaluation of the mitochondrial DNA of today's domestic horses and of fossils of extinct species was interpreted to the effect that the domestication of the horse did not take place in one place, but in several places independently of one another. An essential indicator for this was the breadth of the genetic variations, which were the same in both test groups. With only one place of domestication, a smaller genetic range of variation would have been expected in domestic horses. These tests also found that some of the extinct species were more closely related to species today than some of the species today were to each other.

Investigations on mitochondrial DNA showed in 2002 that there were at least 77 strain types in mares, which was interpreted to mean that different wild horse populations in different regions of the world have been domesticated independently of one another, considerably more than in other domestic animal species.

In 2012, however, based on a further genetic analysis, it was argued that domestication may have only taken place in a single region - in the Eurasian steppe - and that local populations of other areas were only crossed in the course of the spatial spread of these horses.

According to a hypothesis about the ancestry of the domestic horse, which u. a. represented by the hippologists Ewart , d'Andrade , Speed , Etherington , Skorkowski , Ebhardt and Schäfer , the domestic horse originated from four different wild forms in Eurasia, which supposedly had formed from separate American immigration groups. These wild forms of Equus ferus , mostly designated as types 1–4, have not yet been confirmed by genetic analyzes.

  • Type 1 - Urpony / Northern pony
  • Type 2 - tundra horse
  • Type 3 - primeval warm blooded / steppe horse
  • Type 4 - Urabians

History of the domestic horse

Back horses working in the forest in the Siebengebirge

Domestication of the horse brought the peoples an extraordinary advantage. Long distances were covered in much less time, which made maintaining great empires easier. Furthermore, they were used as meat suppliers, as is often the case today, and rendered valuable helpers in armed conflicts. The horse made new attack and war techniques possible.

Old Orient

Ashurbanipal as a rider on the hunt ( Niniveh , approx. 640 BC)

The early empires of the Assyrians and Hittites and the Hurrians in Mitanni -State benefited from the utilization of the horse in war. Horses were used both as riding and draft animals (e.g. from chariots ). A manual for training horses is from Kikkuli . Around the year 1700 BC Chr. Invaded the Hyksos probably from the southern Levant Coming in Egypt one. Up until then, horses were unknown to the Egyptians and they were so inferior to the Hyksos in battle that they were able to conquer Lower Egypt .

Steppe zone

Dereivka is often cited as the oldest evidence of horse domestication in Ukraine . David Anthony found horse teeth there with signs of wear, indicating the use of bridles for riding. He assigned them to the Sredny Stog culture (4000 BC). ( Lit .: Anthony, 1986, 1991). AMS data of the tooth itself date it to the time between 700 BC. BC and 200 BC And refuted his thesis.

The early nomadic peoples of Central Asia invented the saddle in the third millennium BC. Later the Greek historian Strabo reported on the extraordinary riding skills of the Scythians .

Central Europe

Horse remains from Europe have been documented since the Paleolithic and do not break off even after reforestation after the last Ice Age . From when the horse was domesticated in Europe is controversial because of the difficult distinction between domestic and wild animal bones.

At Ergolding , Landshut district , a leg bridle was found together with ceramic remains, dating back to 1400 BC. Could be dated, a similar object comes from Füzesabony in Hungary (1500 BC). This find is the first clue for the coming age of the horse and the rider . In the Urnfield Period (approx. 1300 / 1200–800 / 750 BC) the famous wagon graves can be found. B. St. Winghardt , a chariot grave from the late Bronze Age from Poing . An arrowhead in a horse whirl, found in a cave of the Blauer Bruch in Kaisersteinbruch in Burgenland, Austria - is evidence of the oldest heavy domestic horses - tells of the first traces of settlement around 800–700 BC. Thus, the use of the domestic horse in southern Germany can be dated to the Urnfields or the Younger Bronze Age.

Evidence of horse sacrifices is known from Celtic sanctuaries (e.g. Gournay-sur-Aronde , France).

With the Germanic peoples horses served as oracles, a custom that is also documented by the early medieval Slavs ( Jaromarsburg ). In Tacitus ' Germania (approx. 98 AD) the following is noted about horses among the Teutons:

“And the widespread custom of questioning the voice and flight of birds is also known here; on the other hand, it is a Germanic peculiarity to pay attention to signs and indications from horses. At the expense of the general public, molds are kept in the groves and clearings mentioned that have not been desecrated by any service for mortals. They are harnessed to the sacred chariot; the priest and the king or the head of the tribe walk beside them and watch their neighing and snorting. And one no longer believes any sign, not just with the people: also with the noble, with the priests; They consider themselves only servants of the gods, whereas the horses are their confidants. "


Skeleton of a horse in a Roman moat uncovered during an archaeological dig in London

In the Homeric epics of antiquity , horses mainly pull chariots , as was customary in the Egyptian New Kingdom and among the Assyrians and Hittites. Horses were also sacrificed at the burial of Patroclus ( Iliad 23, 163): " ... he threw four stiff-necked horses straight onto the stake with violent groans ... " In ancient Greece, the horse was also considered symbolic of death connected. Horses depicted looking through the window on heroes portray the death of the hero.

Chariots have been out of use since the Geometric Period . Cavalrymen on horses that were bred ever larger turned out to be faster, more agile and therefore more effective than fighters on chariots as the art of riding increased. Horse breeding had already reached a high level in ancient Greece, although there is no evidence of the breeding of different lofts. Greek riding horses reached a shoulder height of up to 140 cm, in exceptional cases even up to 147 cm. Roman horses and Germanic horses from the Roman Empire were of a similar size .

In the Olympic Games of antiquity the disciplines horse races and were traditionally on the second day chariot races provided.

The Greek historian Xenophon wrote in the 4th century BC. The work Peri hippikes ("About the art of riding"), in which he gathered knowledge about horses and riding. Most of the advice from this work is still valid today.

The horseshoe was already used by the Romans . However, the exact origin of this invention is unknown. In contrast, the Romans did not succeed in developing a load harness suitable for horses. Appropriate methods of hauling loads with horse carts emerged much later.

middle Ages

Anatomy of a horse based on an Arabic illustration from the 15th century

At the transition from antiquity to the Middle Ages, i.e. during the Migration Period, the size of the horses increased slightly. The numerous horse graves of this time resulted in a height at the withers of around 120 to 150 cm. Since the 8th century at the latest, a targeted breeding of battle horses or utility horses , such as tenters, can be proven. In the early Middle Ages, the stirrup gradually spread throughout Central Europe, believed to have been introduced by the Avars , but apparently only gradually spread.

The use of the horse as a workhorse was only possible in the 9th century with the introduction of the collar . The collar is a padded collar and was invented in China. The formerly standard harnesses constricted the horses at high pulling force the air and were only suitable for smooth-running car, but not for heavy work. Previously, oxen were mainly used in agriculture , with the harness attached to their horns. The collar made it possible to use horses to pull a plow , for example . Since their work output was significantly greater than that of oxen, this, together with other innovations such as the three-field economy , meant an agricultural revolution . In many places, however, oxen remained the predominant draft animals of heavy agricultural implements. The breastplate harness introduced at the same time improved the horse's pulling power in front of a carriage.

While there were only relatively minor differences in price in the early Middle Ages, mounts were much more expensive than draft horses in the High Middle Ages and were almost exclusively reserved for the nobility . Through the use of mounted fighters in battles, the layer of knights was formed. From this initially purely military tradition of riding, the classical courtly art of riding later developed .

The Arabs , which were bred on the Arabian Peninsula, can be considered the oldest horse breed . Some of these valuable animals came to Europe as early as the 9th century. In Central Europe, horse breeding of various breeds only began to develop more strongly in the late Middle Ages. For the knights, who were getting heavier and heavier due to their armor, larger, more powerful and therefore rather coarse-boned horses were needed. The classic knight horse of the 14th century is the result of these efforts. Isolated finds of very large horses with a shoulder height of 160 cm attest to these attempts to breed very large horses. The late medieval knight horses, however, were not cold-blooded horses . These giant animals are a breed of modern times and only became more widespread since the 19th century.

New world

The American wild horses were extinct before human colonization. The Spaniards brought the domestic horse to America . Some of the horses ran away and formed herds of free-roaming mustangs . This is how the Indians first met horses. The contact changed the way of life of some peoples radically. Above all, the peoples of the prairies of North America benefited from the considerably increased mobility , which brought advantages in the procurement of food, when moving the camp (transport) and on military campaigns. Above all, however, the horse made it possible for people to colonize the arid Great Plains , which previously could only be used in the peripheral areas.

Modern times

After the decline of the age of knights, today's baroque horses emerged from the large, heavy horse type of medieval knights . Spanish horse breeds like the Andalusians had become very popular since the Baroque period . They arose from the refinement of native Spanish horse breeds with Arab horses . In 1562, Emperor Maximilian II imported such horses to Austria. These animals later became the well-known Lipizzaners . Only a few years later, in 1572, the tradition of the Spanish Riding School began in Vienna.

A very different type of horse is the English thoroughbred , whose breeding began in England in the 17th century by crossing imported oriental stallions with English racehorses. Her temperament, perseverance and speed allow her to dominate the prestigious horse racing sport to this day .

Up until the 19th century there was a high demand for horses, which was also evident in the trade. In 1887, for example, Germany exported 11,428 horses valued at £ 657,100 to England, but imported almost seven times as many horses from England (73,519 horses valued at £ 3,002,450). The invention of the automobile and tractor in the course of the 20th century made the horse superfluous as a means of transport and as a workhorse in industrialized countries .

Use in the service of man

Farmer with a pair of horses and a plow
Double-deck car of Dresden's first horse-drawn tram, Böhmischer Bahnhof – Tannenstraße, opened in 1872

While thoroughbred and the somewhat calmer warm-blooded animals are mounts and are also used as draft animals in front of light carriages , the rather massive cold-blooded horses are slower and almost exclusively draft and work animals. The latter were in the past for pulling heavy carts , ordering fields ( plow horse ), hauling of felled trees ( skidding horse ), for towing vessels ( Channel horse used) and similar force works. Since modern forestry and agricultural machinery has displaced horses from these areas, cold-blooded horses have become rare these days. In the meantime, horses are increasingly being used again in gardening and forestry work, as they hardly compact the soil and work more flexibly and more gently than machines in the forest .

In the early days of rail transport in the 19th century often workhorses in public transport as draft animals for Horse trains than iron - or tram used to it before the 20th century by the steam engine or the electric tram railcars were displaced. Horse bus lines that existed in many cities have been replaced by motorized buses .

In the 1950s and 1960s, ponies were still being used as pit horses, transporting the carts between tunnels and cages underground under the toughest working conditions.

Most horses are now kept as sport and leisure horses . Larger ponies such as Haflingers , Norwegians or Tinkers are often kept as leisure horses , which are characterized above all by their ease of feeding (“good feed converters”) and undemanding. The police horse , which mostly comes from the category of larger breeds, such as the Hanoverian or the Westphalian , is still used as a utility horse today .

Haflingers and mules are still kept and trained as pack animals in the German Federal Armed Forces (company in the Operation and Training Center for Mountain Beasts 230 of the Mountain Hunter Brigade 23 in Bad Reichenhall ) and in the Austrian Armed Forces ( pack company of the 6th Jäger Brigade in Hochfilzen ) . The Swiss Army still uses Freiberg horses , Swiss warmblood horses (as officers' horses ) and mules in their train columns in the reformed “ Army XXI ” . The training takes place in the "Competence Center Veterinary Service and Army Animals" in Urtenen-Schönbühl .

Some countries with borders that are difficult to monitor use occasional mounted patrols (e.g. Switzerland ). Medical horses are rather rare in medical rider squadrons.

In Germany in 2006 about one million horses were kept. According to the Federal Statistical Office, 79,934 animals of the horse species belonged to the livestock population of farms in Switzerland as of 2018 (1985: 37,354; 1996: 51,485; 2010: 82,520).


Anatomy of a stallion
Skeleton of a horse with outline. a: shoulder blade b: pelvis c: thigh d: lower leg e: knee f: heel g: metatarsus h: toe i: upper arm k: forearm l: wrist m: metacarpal o: toe p: ribs r: spine
Skull of a horse
Chewing surface of the molar of a domestic horse
Front tooth of a horse. a: bone substance, b: dentin, c: enamel d: customer
Front teeth of a horse. Above the breakout time: 4–5 months, 4–6 weeks, and 8–14 days. Below the time of the tooth change: 2 ½ years, 3 ½ years and 4 ½ years

In addition to pasture , traditional feed includes hay , straw , oats and finished feed with a protein-starch ratio of 1: 8–10 in the daily feed ration. For a medium-sized warm-blooded horse, the basic feed requirement is covered with 6 kg of hay per day. An addition of approx. 1 kg of concentrated feed up to a maximum of 5 kg per day (mostly in the form of oats) is recommended per hour of work. In addition, the individual needs of each animal must be taken into account when feeding horses. So have foals and young horses as well as pregnant and lactating mares has a significantly higher protein requirements , in sport horses, however, should be paid to the use of particularly high-energy feed and put in older horses need to lower feed conversion consideration. The mineral supply also deserves special attention , as deficiency symptoms often occur here. In order to give the horse the opportunity to regulate its mineral balance itself, lick stones can preferably be placed in the feeding trough. A salt lick (table salt, chemically sodium chloride) is indispensable. Mineral lick stones that also contain trace elements are not accepted by all horses.

When feeding, it should always be ensured that the animal has enough roughage (hay and straw) available. The roughage plays an important role in keeping the bacterial cultures in the horse's intestinal tract intact . In addition, thanks to its special structure, it is used for dental care and prevents tooth hook formation. The covering of the calorie requirement by mainly oat feeding is to be rejected. Much of the finished feed consists mainly of pressed hay. In this case it has been proven that the animals consume more hay per unit of time than they would with hayfeeding and as a result either suffer from overfeeding or (with the correct amount) have to stand around idle and bored most of the time.

Horses need fresh water every day. The amount depends to a large extent on the weather, feeding and weight and can be up to 60 liters per day, but it can also be surprisingly low with pure green feeding (one to two liters per day with a body weight of approx. 500 kg). Insufficient water supply can lead to severe digestive disorders and even life-threatening colic. The best way to supply water is to install a self-trough , where the horse can fill the trough itself by pressing a metal tongue. The supply lines must, however, be kept free of frost in winter, since the watering devices can become inoperative or the supply lines can be damaged if the water freezes. In general, when storing the feed, care must be taken that the feed is kept largely inaccessible to mice, as these also release pathogens into the feed through faeces / urine. Hay must be brought in dry and stored completely rainproof. Otherwise there is a risk of self-ignition due to bacterial heating in the hay. Anyone who stores hay is legally obliged to monitor the temperature inside the haystack and to keep a record of it.

Plants that are poisonous or inedible for horses, including ivy and ragweeds , are usually only eaten when there is otherwise insufficient supply of green fodder, e.g. B. on almost bald pastures. There is a particular danger to horses from hay containing poisonous plants, but this is not accepted by all horses. Mown green fodder is often eaten much more uncritically than grass, herbs or bushes in the pasture, where the animals choose what is edible very carefully. Here horses show a remarkable skill in sorting out accidentally plucked, inedible plants without interrupting the grazing and chewing and then dropping them again.

At the beginning and end of the pasture season, to prevent indigestion and colic , a gradual feed change should be made. H. Initially only a short stay in the pasture, extended over the course of two to three weeks (otherwise there is a risk of diarrhea) and in autumn slowly increased additional feeding of hay (risk of constipation). Windfalls can also be problematic if, for example, B. the pasture was interrupted due to the weather and thus unusually large amounts of fruit lying around have accumulated. Caution is also advised when changing pastures with very different vegetation.

Performance of the domestic horse

The horsepower (HP) as a measure of power goes back to James Watt (1736–1819), who wanted to convey the superiority of his steam engines over the propulsion by horses with this power specification.

According to DIN 66036, 1 PS is defined as the power that has to be provided to move a body of mass m = 75 kg against the earth's gravity field (with acceleration due to gravity 9.80665 m / s²) at a speed of 1 m / s .

The performance of a horse can vary considerably from this level depending on the breed , the level of training or the current level of exertion.

According to a study by Johannes Flade, the normal continuous power output in the step should be 1.2 HP in a cold-blooded horse of 750 kg live weight, 1.1 HP in a 600 kg warm-blooded horse and 0.4 HP in a Shetland pony weighing 200 kg.

According to Gustav Fischer (Agricultural Engineering 1928), heavy horses such as Belgians / Rhinelander with 700-800 kg live weight at a slow walking speed of 1 m / s can achieve a continuous traction of 100 kg, lighter load horses from Holstein or Oldenburg with live weights of 600-650 kg at speeds of 1–1.2 m / s produce a continuous tensile force of 75–80 kg.

The fact that cold-blooded horses can produce almost 30 hp for a short time and warm-blooded horses for galloping or show jumping over 20 hp for a short time has been determined in numerous performance tests by the horse breeds' breeding associations .

The horse as a meat, milk and leather supplier

Before the horse was domesticated, the animals were hunted as meat suppliers. In times of crisis, horse meat was often considered a necessary hunger ration. So received z. B. Soldiers in Stalingrad as a daily ration: 200 g bread, 120 g fresh meat or 200 g horse meat, 50 g cheese or 75 g fresh sausage, 30 g butter, margarine or lard or 120 g jam, 3 servings of drinks and 3 cigarettes, 1 cigar or 25 grams of tobacco . In 2001, an estimated 153,000 tons of horse meat were eaten worldwide.

A regional specialty that is made in its original form from horse meat (today often beef as a substitute) is the Rhenish sauerbraten . By soaking the meat in a pickle for several days, it loses its strong taste.

The importance of the horse as a meat producer within the EU is still high. The medication of a horse is only possible without restrictions if the owner has a horse passport in which he declares that the animal will not be used for meat processing. In addition, each drug treatment must be entered. If the horse is to be slaughtered, a minimum interval must be observed. There are still around 100 horse butchers in the Rhineland and East Germany today .

The Jewish religion forbids the consumption of horse meat. Such an express prohibition does not exist in Islam or Christianity , but eating horse meat was frowned upon in both cultures. From Pope Gregory III. It is said that in 732 he condemned the eating of horses as a pagan abomination that should be stamped out.

Mare's milk is mainly used as natural food for foals in the first months of life. Its composition is very similar to that of human milk and is therefore used as a breast milk substitute in newborn babies. It is also used in therapeutic treatments and as an ingredient in cosmetics . Mare's milk is also the basis for making kumys .

Most of the so-called horse skins are used in leather processing , for example in the shoe industry (see Cordovan ). Foal skins were made into fur clothing , especially in the 20th century .

Before the development of human antisera, the sequence horse, cattle , mutton applied to the exclusively available animal sera . In this way, a sensitization through foreign protein should be avoided. This recommendation was valid until the last third of the 20th century.

In addition, the extraction of the urine of pregnant mares or the PMU production for the purpose of generating estrogens for hormone replacement therapy and serum production is of economic importance.


Russia (January 1942)

No army could do without horses. The Second World War was "the greatest horse war in history".

Names, races, coat colors, badges

The male horse is called either a stallion or, if it has been castrated ( laid ), a gelding . The female horse is called a mare . Young animals are called foals or foals ; Annual horses are called yearlings. A horse is an adult at four years of age, but can grow up to six years old.

Horse breeds

The horse breeds can be divided into


When it comes to admission to a competition, any horse that measures less than 147.3 cm at the withers is a small horse, above that a large horse. Large horses are what is commonly referred to as a normal horse, not particularly large horses.

Coat colors

There are a large number of different horse colors and their names, some of which vary from area to area. The most important basic colors are black , bay, fox , gray , piebald, dun and isabelle (see also coat colors of horses and genetics of horse colors ).


The individual colored (mostly white) fur drawings and fur swirls are called badges and are used for identification in addition to branding and color. Typical places for badges are on the legs or on the head. A distinction is made between real and fake badges. Real badges have been around for a lifetime (e.g. blaze). Fake badges only appear in the course of life, e.g. B. white hair that has grown back in places where the hair has been rubbed off.

Technical, outdated, colloquial and dialect terms

  • Stud stallion (state stallion, main stallion ) is the technical term for a stallion.
  • Enter is an annual young animal (yearling) in northern Germany.
  • Filling is a landscape name for foals , previously used up to the age of four.
  • Ganzer (obsolete) is an uncastrated stallion.
  • Gaul is the common name for horse in the South Franconian dialect area . The plow horse is a medium to heavy horse in agricultural use.
  • Gurre or Gorre is an old mare or a bad horse. The phrase Gaul um Gurre means "like with like"; Bite cucumber or piss cucumber (popular etymologically polished) describes a quarrelsome woman (cf. mare bite ).
  • Healer or medicinal horse (out of date) is a young gelding.
  • Hutsch is a West Central German-Alemannic dialect expression for foals .
  • Klepper is the colloquial term for a malnourished or decrepit domestic horse.
  • Kracke is an old bad horse in northern Germany .
  • Light horse was a name for pure riding horses to distinguish them from work horses.
  • In Upper German dialects, mare is a synonym for mare and horse . A mare is so thin that it actually belongs on the Schindanger . From the word mare is initiated Marshal , stables and possibly horseradish (see. English horseradish ) from.
  • Mönch is a name for a gelding .
  • Pag (h) e is a Low German word for horse , locally also for stallion and / or for gelding . This includes the family name Pagenstecher , whose etymological meaning is unclear.
  • Brush horse is a riding horse.
  • Renner is a fast, good riding horse.
  • Rosinante , Don Quixote's old horse , has become an equine nickname .
  • Ross (above German word for horse) refers among other things a very noble horse as a war horse wearing his horsemen into battle.
    • The Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) called Ross Erdapfel in southern Germany ; formerly a popular feed for workhorses.
    • The horse chestnut ( Aesculus hippocastanum ) is so named because its extracts treat horses against coughs and worms.
  • Rune , Ruun or Raune is a Low German expression for Wallach .
  • Strenze (out of date) is a bad mare.
  • Strute was used for horse herds until the middle of the 17th century and is still used for mare in some West Central German dialects .
  • Mare in the old meaning horse herd has been preserved, for example, in the place name Stuttgart and in the term stud .
  • Animals of the equine species : Official name in Switzerland (from French espèce équine ).
  • Tööt is a northern Lower Saxony name for mare .
  • Wutsch is an Alsatian-Palatinate dialect expression for foals .
  • In the Middle Ages, Zelter was a noble, light riding horse or mule, which was particularly suitable for women because of its particularly quiet tent walk ( tölt ).
  • The word "Zosse" or "Zossen" colloquially describes a house horse. The word probably comes from Yiddish ( Hebrew סוס sus means horse ) and is used especially in Low German (also Zurre or Zöre ).

See also: List of Fictional Animals


"All happiness on earth lies on the back of a horse ( original text : The paradise of the earth lies on the back of a horse, in the health of the body and in the heart of the woman)"

- Friedrich von Bodenstedt , The Songs of Mirza-Schaffy: Mixed Poems and Proverbs 34th Arabic Proverb, 1851

Horses in Mythology and History

Centaur . Decorative copper plate gilded and enamelled . France 1160-1170

The oldest surviving images of horses and other large animals are the 30,000 year old paintings in the Chauvet grotto near the small town of Vallon-Pont-d'Arc in southern France. Kikkuli was in the 15th century BC. The author of the first hippological handbook on the breeding, keeping and training of horses. The "horse trainer from the country of Mittani ", as Kikkuli called himself in the opening of his text, described a detailed training program to be able to steer the light chariots . This changed war technique gave the Hittites considerable advantages in the battles against their neighbors. In the battle of Qadeš in 1274 BC The Hittites succeeded in defeating the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II , who was only able to get to safety with his gold-clad chariot. The horses of the Hittites were small. On the other hand, there must have been larger horses in the subsequent Urartian Empire . King Menua (ruled around 810–785 BC) owned a horse named Arsibini, which , according to cuneiform writing on a stone, is said to have won a long jump victory. The close relationship between humans and horses has led to the fact that in the mythology of many peoples there are numerous horse figures to which a religious significance is attached. The Greek mythology is full of horses and horse-like creature:

  • The sun god Helios initially drove a team of bulls, later a chariot pulled by fire-spraying horses across the sky. In pictures he appears with a halo, his draft horses have wings and boys run in front of the wagon who set out to jump into the depths. This is how the stars are distributed. Eos , the goddess of the dawn, and the moon goddess Selene are two sisters of Helios who precede his chariot.
  • The sea god Poseidon is nicknamed Hippios as god of horses. When he fell in love with his sister Demeter , she turned into a mare in order to escape him. Poseidon pursued her in the form of a stallion and overpowered her. The wonder horse Areion emerged from this association .
  • The strong hero Heracles had to do twelve tasks on behalf of King Eurystheus . One of them was to steal the four man-eating steeds of Diomedes . Heracles secretly penetrated the stable in which the beasts were tied to iron chains, killed Diomedes , who had rushed to the neighing of the animals , whom he threw them to eat. Then he was able to drive the calmed horses with him.
  • The centaur is a hybrid of human and horse; instead of a horse's head, the upper body of a human can be seen. There were numerous centaurs, most of them unkind beings. However, the two most famous centaurs, Pholos and Cheiron , were friendly and bright representatives of their race.
  • A hybrid creature from the front half of a horse with the back part consisting of wings, tail and legs of a chicken is the Hippalectryon .
  • The front body of the hippocampus consisted of a horse's body, and a long fish tail grew behind it. The Latin name of the seahorse , Hippocampina, is derived from him.
  • Pegasus was a winged, semi-divine horse who aided Bellerophon in numerous heroic acts, including killing the Chimera .
  • The Trojan horse was a wooden horse inside of which the Greeks hid to get into the city of Troy and conquer the city.
  • Bucephalus was the legendary horse of Alexander the great . Numerous mythical properties were ascribed to it, allegedly it could speak; but it is very likely to go back to a really existing horse.

The Roman emperor Caligula (r. 37–41) supposedly wanted to appoint his favorite horse Incitatus as consul. The story serves as evidence of the ruler's megalomania.

From Persian mythology , the stallion Rachsch in the national epic Shāhnāme and the battle steed Shabdiz of King Khosrau II in the love story of Khosrau and Shirin are known. The myth of the legendary unicorn , a horse with goat hooves, a lion's tail and a horn on its forehead, probably originated in India . Unicorns did not appear in Greek mythology, but they did appear in scientific descriptions by Aristotle and Pliny .

Odin on his eight-legged horse Sleipnir . Illustration in an Icelandic manuscript from 1765/66

In Norse mythology there is Sleipnir , the eight-legged horse of the god Odin , as well as the horses Alsvidr and Arvakr , who pulled the chariot of the sun across the sky. Of the two Merseburg spells , the second is a spell to heal the broken foot of the horse. Other Old High German authors also wrote spells to heal the horse from its lame condition. The horse was also used as a heraldic animal .

According to Islamic tradition, the Prophet travels to heaven on the winged white horse Buraq in one night and then returns to Mecca. In the Islamic popular belief of the Gnawas in Morocco - based on Mohammed's mount - a horse called a Bukhari carries the participants in the Derdeba possession ceremony who have fallen into a trance . In Persian miniature painting , composite (composed of several figures) camels, elephants or horses can often be seen carrying a heavenly being or a ruler.

The Ashvamedha horse sacrifice described in the Vedas was the most elaborate ritual of the ancient Indian religion. In the Indian mythology handed down in Hinduism , the horse is important as a mount ( Vahana ) for numerous deities. The best known is the sun god Surya , who is represented in the form of a youth standing or sitting on a horse . His representation in the form of a man on a chariot ( ratha ) probably came to India via Persia. His charioteer is Aruna, the dawn. The seven horses of the sun chariot symbolize the seven days of the week.

The tenth earthly descent ( Avatara ) of the sky god Vishnu is called Kalki . He is presented as a white horse himself or as a rider on the white horse Devadatta. Also on white horses riding the southern Indian guardian deities Aiyanar in Tamil Nadu and in the ritual Ayyappan tiyatta in Kerala revered Ayyappan . Both have developed from spiritual beings ( bhutas ) of popular religion to Hindu gods. In local beliefs there are other protective bhutas in horse form. The god of wealth, Kubera , who can be recognized by his fat belly , has different mounts, including a horse, depending on the mythical story. Hayagriva can be a horse-head demon or Vishnu in human form with a horse head if he embodies the god of learning. Tumburu, the head of the Gandharvas making music in heaven, also has a horse's head .

Krishna kills the horse demon Keshi. Guptazeitliches relief in terracotta . 5th century, Uttar Pradesh , India

According to the Bhagavatapurana, Keshi is a demon ( asura ) in the form of a horse, who is brought down by Krishna , another descent of Vishnu. In the religious dance drama Ras lila , Krishna's amusing game with the beautiful cowherdesses ( Gopis ) and especially with his lover Radha is shown. When Krishna wants to leave in his horse-drawn carriage, the women pull a wheel off the axle, so that the carriage collapses and Krishna has to get out. In the game several Gopis form a horse with their bodies, the Krishna seated can. Composite horses made from women's bodies are described in numerous variations in Indian poetry and depicted in miniature painting.

In the epic Mahabharata a certain Galava appears, a disciple of the mythical sage ( Rishi ) Vishvamitra . At the end of Galava's long-term studies, his teacher asked him to teach 800 white horses, each with a black ear, as parting. Only with the help of the bird of the gods Garuda and several kings is it possible to find the animals in a detailed story and hand them over to the wise.

Kanthaka was the name of Siddhartha Gautama's favorite horse in Buddhist tradition. Before Prince Siddharta gave up earthly life and became a Buddha , the docile white stallion served him whenever he had adventures to face. Even when Siddharta secretly fled the royal palace to renounce the world, he rode on Kanthaka. A saddled, riderless horse can therefore be a symbol of death according to Buddhist ideas. Rock carvings on the upper Indus in northern Pakistan before the turn of the ages can also be interpreted with this meaning.

Statue of the white horse in the Bach Ma Temple ("Temple of the White Horse") in Hanoi

From Tengrism , an old Central Asian belief, the idea of ​​the wind horse as a symbol of the spiritual strength and soul of man has been preserved in the shamanistic tradition . In Chinese mythology , near the unicorn-like mythical creature Qilin, there is the dragon horse called Longma (from long , "dragon" and ma , "horse"). The horse is one of the animals in the 60-year cycle of the Chinese calendar and one of the animals with which the twelve branches of the earth are characterized.

Several Taoist temples in Hong Kong , Taiwan, and Vietnam are dedicated to Quan Cong, a Chinese general who lived from 198 to 249 during the Three Kingdoms period . His altar portrait is usually shown together with a larger than life white wooden horse in the anteroom of the temple as a symbol of power. When the Chinese mausoleum Qin Shihuangdis from the year 210 BC was uncovered. An army of thousands of life-size soldiers with their horses and chariots, modeled in terracotta, came to light. The grave goods were a symbol of the power of the first Chinese emperor.

See also


General representations:

  • David Anthony: The Kurgan culture. Indo-European Origins and the Domestication of the Horse: A Reconsideration. In: Current Anthropology 27, 1986, pp. 291-313.
  • David Anthony, Dorcas Brown: The origins of horseback riding. In: Antiquity. 65. 1991, pp. 22-38, ISSN  0003-598X
  • Klaus-Dieter Budras : Atlas of the anatomy of the horse. Textbook for veterinarians and students. 5th edition. Schlütersche, Hannover 2004, ISBN 3-89993-002-9 .
  • Judith Draper: The great book of horses and ponies. Breeds, sports, husbandry, care . Gondrom, Bindlach 2002, ISBN 3-8112-2086-1 .
  • Elwyn Hartley Edwards: The Great Horse Book . Dorling Kindersley, Starnberg 2002, ISBN 3-8310-0381-5 .
  • Johannes Erich Flade: Shetland ponies. 8th edition. Westarp Wiss., Hohenwarsleben 2001, ISBN 3-89432-168-7 .
  • Daphne Machin Goodall: World History of the Horse . Nymphenburger, Munich 1984, ISBN 3-485-01784-1 .
  • Lorraine Harrison: Horses in Art, Photography, and Literature . Taschen, Cologne 2000, ISBN 3-8228-6017-4 .
  • Peter Thein (Red.): Handbook horse. Breeding, husbandry, training, sports, medicine, law. 6th edition. BLV, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-405-17019-2 .
  • Michael Schäfer: Handbook horse assessment. Kosmos, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-440-07237-1 .

Historical literature:


Web links

Commons : Equus caballus  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Horses  - Sources and Full Texts

Individual evidence

  1. ^ CA Bingold: key data horse . Großostheim 2007. Retrieved December 17, 2007.
  2. ^ JD Feist, DR McCullough: Behavior patterns and communication in feral horses. In: Animal Cognition. No. 14, 1976, pp. 245-257. doi: 10.1111 / j.1439-0310.1976.tb00947.x
  3. ^ MA Pacheco, EA Herrera: Social Structure of Feral Horses in the Llanos of Venezuela. In: Journal of Mammalogy . No. 78, 1977, pp. 15-22. doi: 10.2307 / 1382634
  4. K. Krueger, J. Heinze: Horse sense: social status of horses (Equus caballus) affects their likelihood of copying other horses' behavior. In: Animal Cognition. No. 11, 2008, pp. 431-439. doi: 10.1007 / s10071-007-0133-0 (full text; PDF; 489 kB)
  5. F. Burden, A. Thiemann: Donkeys Are Different. In: J Equine Vet Sci. 35, 2015, pp. 375-382. doi: 10.1016 / j.jevs.2015.03.005 ( full text ; PDF)
  6. MapView entry
  7. ^ Horse Genome Assembled . In: NIH News.
  8. CM Wade et al: Genome Sequence, Comparative Analysis, and Population Genetics of the Domestic Horse. In: Science. Volume 326, No. 5954, 2009, pp. 865-867. doi: 10.1126 / science.1178158
  9. Alan K. Outram, NA Stear, R. Bendrey, S. Olsen, A. Kasparov, V. Zaibert, N. Thorpe, R. Evershed: The Earliest Horse Harnessing and Milking. In: Science. Volume 323, 2009, pp. 1332-1335.
  10. Thomas Jansen et al: Mitochondrial DNA and the origins of the domestic horse. In: PNAS . Volume 99, No. 16, 2002, pp. 10905-10910. doi: 10.1073 / pnas.152330099 ( full text  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice .; PDF)@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  11. Vera Warmuth et al: Reconstructing the origin and spread of horse domestication in the Eurasian steppe. In: PNAS. Online advance publication of May 7, 2012, doi: 10.1073 / pnas.1111122109
  12. David W. Anthony, Dorcas R. Brown: Eneolithic horse exploitation in the Eurasian steppes: diet, ritual and riding. In: Antiquity. Volume 74, No. 283, pp. 75-86. ( Memento of the original from June 8, 2014 in the web archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (Full text on) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  13. a b c d e R. M. Hirschberg: Horse, donkey and mule in the Middle Ages Charger, pack animal, offering - the role of the horse in the Middle Ages. Extended online version, supplemented in 2013 by: RM Hirschberg: Pets in the Middle Ages: The horse - warhorse, pack animal, offering. In: Karfunkel - magazine for tangible history. No. 90, 2010, pp. 100-106. ( ISSN  0944-2677 )
  14. Ross is the Upper German name for horse .
  15. Matthew Bennett (Ed.): Wars in the Middle Ages Battles - Tactics - Weapons . Konrad Theiss Verlag, Stuttgart 2009, ISBN 978-3-8062-2223-4 .
  16. Alfred Hendricks (ed.): Prairie and Plains Indians. Change and Tradition. Siegbert Linnemann Verlag, 1st edition 1996, ISBN 3-89523-080-4 , pp. 24, 26.
  17. ^ Financial Times. November 2, 1888, p. 2.
  18. Federal Statistical Office (ed.): Livestock stock of agricultural businesses, development . 2020 ( - FSO number je-d-
  19. How much horsepower does a horse have?
  20. ^ Leaflet: The legal units in Germany . June 2015 ( online version [PDF; 1.6 MB ]). Online version (PDF; 1.6 MB) ( Memento of the original from September 24, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  21. ^ JE Flade: Shetland ponies. 8th edition. Westarp Wiss., Hohenwarsleben 2001, ISBN 3-89432-168-7 , p. 111 ff.
  22. Composition of mare's milk compared to cow's milk and human breast milk ( Memento from December 24, 2014 in the web archive )
  23. ↑ Immune Serum - Definition. In: Retrieved January 19, 2015 .
  24. Andreas Hummel: Drug theory. Vincentz Network GmbH & Co. KG, 2004, ISBN 978-3-87870-482-9 , p. 544 ( limited preview in the Google book search).
  25. Rick Parker: Equine Science. Cengage Learning, 2012, p. 122.
  26. World War II was the greatest horse war in history. In: Der Spiegel. 38/1976.
  27. Manfred G. Raupp: What the grandfather already knew - thoughts on the development of agriculture in Staffort. Citizens' Office Stutensee-Staffort, 2005.
  28. Hans-Peter Hils: Master Albrants Roßarznei. About an unknown copy of Master Albrant's Roßarznei from the 16th century. In: Würzburg medical history reports. Volume 3, 1985, pp. 77-99, here: p. 78.
  29. Werner König: DTV Atlas for the German Language: Tables and Texts. (= Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag. 3025). Munich 1978, p. 210 f.
  30. LMG04 - Terminology of the legislation on food and everyday objects ( entry ). As used in various laws and regulations.
  31. Reter Raulwling: The Kikkuli text. Hittite Training Instructions for Chariot Horses in the Second Half of the 2nd Millennium BC and Their Interdisciplinary Context. 2009, pp. 1–21, here p. 4.
  32. Karl Kerényi : The mythology of the Greeks. Volume 1: The Gods and Stories of Humanity. DTV, Munich 1977, p. 151f.
  33. Jump upPashu Kunjar (Composite Horse) Made of Gopis with Krishna Atop. (composite horse with Gopis and Krishna in the style of Indian miniature painting)
  34. Jutta Jain-Neubauer: Kṛṣṇa on composite mounts. Influences and regional development from the time of Alexander the Great to that of the Bhakti movement. In: Jakob Ozols, Volker Thewalt (Ed.): From the East of the Alexander Empire. Peoples and cultures between Orient and Occident: Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India. Festschrift for Klaus Fischer's 65th birthday . (= DuMont documents). DuMont, Cologne 1984, ISBN 3-7701-1571-6 , p. 230f.
  35. John Dowson : A classical dictionary of Hindu mythology and religion, geography, history, and literature. (Original edition 1870) Rupa, Calcutta u. a. 1987, pp. 103f.
  36. Volker Thewalt: Horse representations in rock drawings on the upper Indus. In: Jakob Ozols, Volker Thewalt (Ed.): From the East of the Alexander Empire. Peoples and cultures between Orient and Occident: Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India. Festschrift for Klaus Fischer's 65th birthday. Du-Mont Documents, Cologne 1984, pp. 204-218.
  37. Bach Ma Temple, Hanoi, Vietnam. Asian Historical Architecture