Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Natural Habitat of Horses

Horses have evolved to graze nearly constantly on grass. They prefer to be surrounded by wide open spaces and a blanket of grass. They could spend almost 20 hours a day as nomadic grazers. Horses live in herds in the wild with approximately a dozen horses in each group. Since horses are prey animals, they defend themselves in the wild by running away from predators such as mountain lions and wolves, therefore they prefer to live in areas that are widely open. Even domesticated horses will avoid spaces that are mostly closed in and choose shelters that only have one wall or a roof.

Their natural habitat is anywhere they have once roamed wild: prairies, forests, mountains, grasslands, steppes.

Horses need access to shelter (a runout shelter or a barn), a continual supply of water (either buckets/tubs that you fill or a natural pond or stream), hay or grass that is always available, and herd mates (other horses). They also need attention to their health, hooves, and grooming needs.

References: "Complete Book of Horses and Riding"; Judith Draper, Debby Sly, Sarah Muir; 2003 
For the calèche horses in Montréal the situation is quite different -- the horses live in a building that was supposed to be destroyed this spring for insalubrity, as you can see in these photos. (click on them to view)

Just something to think about before you take your tour de calèche à Montréal...
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And don't miss the film "Saving America's Horses"