Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Mammalia
Order: Perissodactyla
Family: Equidae
Genus: Equus
Binomial name
Equus caballus
Linnaeus, 1758

Horses are mammals of the family Equidae. The common horse is the species Equus caballus. It was domesticated from wild horses by humans at least 5000 years ago. They are large, strong animals, and some breeds are used to pull heavy loads. Racehorses can gallop up to 30 miles an hour.

A male horse is a stallion, and a female horse is a mare. The general term for a young horse is foal. A young female horse is a filly, and a young male horse is a colt. A castrated horse is a gelding. Horses have hooves which need protection by horseshoes from hard or rough ground.

Early horses

A group of horses

The evolution of horses has been well studied. Fifty million years ago, there were no horses as we know them now. Of the earliest fossil horse, the North American one is called Eohippus, and the Eurasian one is called Hyracotherium. Both were small animals: Eohippus was the larger of the two at twice the size of a terrier dog.

Many changes took place between those little animals and today's horse. These changes are best explained as adaptations to its changing life-style. From a small forest-dweller eating nuts and fruit to a larger forest browser eating leaves and small branches. Finally, the modern horse is a grazer on open grassland, with different teeth, legs for running and much larger size. Major changes happened in the mid-Miocene when the climate became cooler, and grassland began to replace forests. This change continued, and several groups of mammals changed from browsers to grazers.

Horses and humans

Farmer plowing
Horses pulling a plough

Horses have been domesticated for at least 5000 years. They have been used by humans in many different ways for travel, work, food, and pleasure. They are also kept as a pet for humans too.

They are used for riding, as transport, racing, and just plain riding. They are also used for carrying things or pulling carts, or to help plow farmer's fields in agriculture. Horses have also been used for meat, milk, and glue. Today, horses are mostly used for entertainment and sports. They are also still used for work and transportation in some places.

"Equus" is the old Latin word for horse.

Horses are used in equestrianism, which is equine sports such as cross-country, showjumping, dressage, horse polo, rodeo events etc. Showjumping, cross-country and dressage are Olympic sports can be competed together in one event (known as one/three day events) or as separate events

Other uses of horses

Horsehide is a tough leather made from the skin of horses. Horsehair is used to make a stiff fabric. Horsehair can also be used as a stuffing for furniture. Horsehair can be mixed with plaster to make it strong.

Horse bones can be used to make gelatin for food. The bones can also be used to make glue. Animal glue is still preferred by some wood workers.

Horses are used all over the world to carry people and pull carts.

They are used by police in big cities. Police horses help police watch and protect people in crowds.

Horse breeds

These are some well-known horse breeds:

  • American Cream Draft
  • Andalusian
  • Appaloosa
  • Arabian horse
  • Bashkir Curly
  • Belgian horse
  • Canadian Horse
  • Clydesdale
  • Dales Pony
  • Dutch Draft
  • Dutch Warmblood
  • Exmoor pony
  • Falabella
  • Fjord Horse
  • Friesian
  • Gypsy Vanner
  • Hanoverian
  • Holstein
  • Icelandic Horse
  • Irish Sport Horse
  • Java Pony
  • Jutland horse
  • Lipizzaner
  • Mongolian Horse
  • Morgan horse
  • Mustang
  • Noriker
  • Oldenburg horse
  • Paint Horse
  • Percheron
  • Peruvian Paso
  • Quarter Horse
  • Russian Don
  • Saddlebred
  • Shetland Pony
  • Spanish Mustang
  • Thoroughbred
  • Walkaloosa
  • Welsh Mountain Pony
  • Welsh Pony

Related pages


Horse for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.