Watch this video Horse Grazing Characteristics – Part 1 – WHAT YOUR HORSE WANTS YOU TO KNOW! and start to learn about what your horse REALLY …
In this video, which is the first in the
series, I'll answer the questions what is
a horse, what characteristics do they
have, what makes them different to other
grazing animals. It includes a bit about
their digestive system but we will return
to this again in the second video in
this series, why fiber is so important but
there's more on that later as well, why a
horse's head is the shape it is and a
little bit about the other parts of the
horse's body. Please be sure to give this
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Horses are large grazing herbivores
everything about the way they are built
is for a reason
in this section we'll concentrate on the
characteristics that are to do with
grazing in particular so that you
understand why grazing is so important
to a horse. What is a horse? This might
seem like a silly question to a horse
owner, they range from very small to very
tall but we need to understand that they
all have the same basic characteristics
so first of all a horse is what's called
a monogastric that means a single
stomach herbivore and it's not a
ruminant, a ruminant, which is what most
grazing animals are has a different
digestive system whereby the food has to
pass through several chambers, sometimes
called stomachs, before it can reach the
intestines, cows cannot simply eat more
when times are tough each mouthful of
food has to go through a time-consuming
process called rumination, so when food
is very fibrous and low quality there's
simply not enough hours in the day for a
cow to extract enough nutrients from
that lower quality food, the horse on the
other hand can, because they simply
increase their throughput meaning they eat
more, and even if the food is very low
quality they manage to get some
nutrition from it due to the
fermentation process that takes place in
their hind gut, hence a horse is called a
hind gut fermenter.
A horse's digestive system actually
looks almost like ours, the proportions
are different and they don't have a gall
bladder as we do, but otherwise the same
and again we will talk about this
more later. This strategy that horses have
means it in harsh times such as winter
or drought horses can survive in
conditions that cows cannot, it's
important to understand this because
it's often assumed that horses need
higher energy food than cows whereas the
opposite is actually true. Horses
evolved to eat low energy plants over a
large range so their natural diet is
plants that are low in energy but very
high in fiber but they aim to eat them
in large amounts as already mentioned,
horses fill a niche below that of cattle,
they do well on plants that some other
grazing animals would not be able to
survive on> Horses are highly social herd
animals, this fact is often ignored but
it's very important for horse management.
Domestic horses are part of the equine
family which also includes domestic and
wild donkeys our asses, zebra,
Przewalski's horses and mules and what's
very interesting is that there nearest cousins are the rhinoceros and
the tapir, these animals are also hindgut
fermenters like horses. Please comment
below with what you've found interesting
about this video so far. Horses, like many
other grazing animals that are also prey
animals have evolved a head shape that's
perfect for grazing long grasses and
being able to see predators at the same
time. Everything about the size and
placement and function of the eyes, ears,
mouth and whiskers and nostrils of the
head is essential both for grazing and
for being safe while grazing. The
whiskers better known as the vibrisée
have individual nerves attached to help
the horse feel while grazing,
check out new plants, objects, other
horses etc this is why you should never
trim them, they are actually essential for
the horses sense of feel. The lips of the
horse are highly mobile, the top lip in
particular, the top lip is used almost
like we use our hands, the whole time the
horse is grazing the top lip is being
used to sift and sort and choose
different plant material. The eyes of the
horse are the largest of all the land
mammals, a horses eyes are a long way
from the mouth, the position of the eyes
mean that a horse can almost see right
around itself while grazing, there's just
two small blind spots, right in front of
the nose and directly behind the body,
with just small movements of the horse's
head the horse can actually see right
round, so 360 degrees. The ears of the
horse can move, pivot independently of
each other, so the horse can listen
forwards and backwards at the same time,
they've have many muscles for each year
which means that they can rotate each
ear through 180 degrees. Horses can tell
what direction something is approaching
from and what distance it is away from
them. Horses can become anxious when
their hearing is compromised or
overwhelmed so when it's windy or very
noisy for example. Their nostrils are
very large and they use smell to tell
them a lot about what's happening, again
when it's windy they're usually more
nervous because it's more difficult to
read the information that's coming to
them via their sense of smell. The molar
or back teeth need to be large they need
to have a large surface area in order to
grind all that fiber in the diet of a
horse. Don't forget with a horse the
fiber only gets one chance to be cut up
into small pieces before it's digested,
because the horse is not a ruminant so
it doesn't regurgitated food and re-chew
it like a cow does, the long head shape
means that the teeth have plenty of room
to be housed, horses have two sets of
incisors of front teeth that meet like a
pair of scissors in the mouth this means
that they can clip and collect even very
short grass and for this reason this is
why it doesn't work to put horses on
short grass in order for them to lose
weight but there's lots more about that
later.
Compare the horses front teeth to those
of a cow, the cow has only one set at the
bottom, and they used the tongue to
gather the food, this is why cows need
longer grass, and a cow will starve on
very short grass, whereas a horse will
not, again more about this later. In this
video we've concentrated on the head in
particular but other adaptations include
long legs so that the horse can run away
at a split seconds notice, horses don't
have horns because they rely on running
away from danger rather than facing it
like some animals do, the reason they can
kick backwards so accurately is also
because of this, they have a thick bushy
mane and tail to protect the body from
biting insects etc and keep the body
warm when it's cold, they have a long
neck so they can reach the ground
without having to spread the front legs
apart like a giraffe for instance, which
would mean that they couldn't get away
as fast. So you can see how everything
has a reason, so in this first video of
the series you've started to learn about
some of the important characteristics
that make horses what they are you've
learned a bit about their digestive
system and you'll learn even more about
that in the next video, you've also
started to learn about why fiber is so
important to a horse and you will be
learning even more about this in later
videos. Well done for taking such an
interesting what your horse really is. Stick with this series and you'll learn
so much that will help you to help your
horse to have the best lifestyle
possible in your situation.
If you've enjoyed this video please let
us know by liking it, subscribe and share
with your fellow horsey friends and
please leave a comment with what you
found interesting. Make sure you look out
for the next video in this series.
There's a link below wher you can get the
whole mini course about horse grazing
characteristics for FREE, see the link if
you're interested in learning more about
better horse management by learning
about what is really important to your
horse. We have a private Facebook group
but do the course first and see if it
interests you.

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