Horses have a good sense of smell, sharp ears, and keen eyes. They have strong teeth but eat only grain and plants, never meat. Most horses also have good memories and can learn to respond to the slightest signals. The life of an average horse is between 20 to 30 years. Horses are commonly divided into the following three groups:
These horses tend to have small bones, thin legs and usually weigh less than 1300 lbs. Included in this group are such popular breeds as the American saddle horse, quarter horse, Arabian, Lipizzan, and Appaloosa. Cowboys used quarter horses for rounding up cattle because of their ability to start, stop, and turn quickly.
Heavy (Draft Horses)
As their name implies, these breeds of horses have large bones, thick sturdy legs, and can weigh more than 2000 lbs. The Shire, the largest horse, developed in England after King Henry VIII had all horses less than 5 feet high destroyed as useless. This group also includes the famous Budweiser horses, which are Clydesdales – a popular breed for pulling wagons in parades.
A pony is a horse that stands less than 58 inches high and weighs less than 800 lbs. Ponies eat grass and hay and generally live longer than large horses. A full grown Shetland Pony stands only 32-46 inches high. Farmers in the Shetland Islands, north of Scotland, used to use these ponies to pull plows and wagons. Miners in Wales developed the Welsh Pony to work in the coal mine tunnels. Other pony breeds include the Hackney and the Irish Connemara.