Natural Histories

photograph of a Sunda Pangolin


Equus caballus


Horses have long limbs with large hooves at the end, a barrel shaped body and a long neck supporting a large head. This species has large eyes and ears. The tail is relatively short with long hairs which can reach the ground. The mane also has long hair which grows along the neck and forehead. Coloration and size can vary depending on breeding.


Horse populations originated from the steppe zone from Poland to Mongolia. Horses can be found throughout the world as a domesticated species and feral populations in some areas. Feral or “wild” horses can be found in many places such as the coastline of France and Spain, the barrier islands of Virginia and North Carolina, the Great Basin of western United States, areas of Australia along with other countries. These feral populations can survive in diverse habitats such as temperate forests and grasslands.

Feeding Behavior and Diet

This species is an herbivore, consuming only plant matter. They are natural grazers, grazing while walking and pulling off a mouthful of vegetation every few steps. Domestic horses tend to have a diet of grain and hay.


Horses breed seasonally at which females or “mares” come into estrus monthly during the season until fertilization occurs. 1-2 foals are born 11 months after fertilization. Foals are able to stand and follow their mothers after the first 15-25 minutes of birth. Foals nurse until they are weaned at about 7 months, occasionally nursing until the mother becomes pregnant again. Young males or stallions are sexually mature at about 2 years old.

Months and Times of Activity

Domestic horses are plentiful while feral populations are found in small numbers. Feral horses are threatened by human encroachment. This species is generally active during the day and less active at night.

Special Features, Stories, Relationships

  • Horses can use their tails as extra hands to swat insects.
  • Horses have been used as means of transportation, pleasure, work and even war.
  • This species has a harem social system where a dominant male controls a group of females and their offspring.  There is also typically a mare which is “second in command”, leading the herd while the stallion brings up the rear.  Juveniles typically leave their natal group; females joining another heard while males join bachelor herds. Adult males tend to be solitary until they take over a harem or steal females from another male. Dominant males protect their harems from other males and other threats such as mountain lions. Dominant males create large piles of manure called “stud piles” to mark their territory.
  • To read legends featuring this animal go to;
  • Children’s book featuring this animal:  The Ice Horse by Renne


Sorin, A. 2001. "Equus caballus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed November 04, 2014 at