Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday stills: Horses

This challenge kind of came naturally to me as you all know horses are often included in my Sunday stills. I have thousands of photographs of horses on my external hard drive that I have taken. Click the images for full view.

Horses, Equus ferus caballus. This is our domesticated horse.

As you can imagine my days are filled with all things horsey.

I'll take a different spin on my pictures this week. With every photo I post I will also present a fact about horses for you.
I know a few aren't around horses much. Might as well use that knowledge I gained in university for something, right?

Horses have the largest eyes out of any land mammal. They can see nearly 360 degrees around their body standing still and with a turn of their necks they can see right around them completely. This picture was an accident as I was adjusting the white balance. I quite like it.

A horses funnel like ears can rotate an amazing 180 degrees around using ten muscles. They can pinpoint a noise within 25 degrees where us humans and even dogs are accurate within a degree. Horses can protect their ear drums against loud noises by laying them flat. Where in most photographs the focal point is on the subject's eyes. A horse displays his most noticeable emotion through his ears. If a horses ears are forward he is attentive to something closeby. If you notice a trend here my photos all have the horses ears facing forward. This is my goal most of the time when taking horse pictures. Ears forward. I do this by using crinkly plastic, whistling, tapping a whip on the ground, feeding them treats. Get those ears forward for they are your subjects eyes now.

There are over 300 breeds of horses in the world today.
Lets not forget ponies too. This is Keebler, my little man. He is a pink papered hackney, welsh pony cross. He is a trotting machine and the smartest equid I have ever worked with.

A horse carres 60% of his weight on his front legs. This is evident by the large neck and head they have to hold up. A horse can comfortably carry 20% of his weight (rider and all tack included) and pull THREE TIMES it's weight! Now that is horse power.

Their adapted anatomy allows them to achieve speed, a well developed sense of balance and a flight over fight instinct. This means they will run if they can, rather than fight. They are extreme prey animals. By using body language and brains rather than braun we can harness a horses power (sometimes literally) and have them do jobs for us that we would not be able to do on our own.

Horses evolved from having many toes, to only one hoof. The remains of their other two toes are evident in the growths on their legs called chestnuts (inside of all four legs) and ergots (on the back of the fetlock, kind of the equivalent of your wrist bone). Horses hooves are the same thing, but tougher, that your fingernails are made out of. When a horse shoe is put on a horses hoof it does not hurt because it is being nailed into the insensitive laminae. This is kind of like cutting your fingernails. If you cut your nails/a hoof too short, a horse/your finger will be sore. Trimming a horses feet properly takes skill. No two horses travel alike, therefore they should not be trimmed alike. A good farrier will never make a horse lame after a trim.

As an average, a horse allowed to graze on grass will eat about four pounds an hour.
If you haven't read my blog before this is Indigo, my girl. She is my getaway from the real world, my best bud and just a kind, gentle soul(when shes not wigging out over the neighbors ATV's speeding down the lane and trying to eject me off her back) I rely on when I need it most. She never has to worry about finding another home. She has earned her oats in many ways than one with her time on the farm. She is the horse that inspired me to train horses in a bitless bridle. Her mouth will never see a bit again.
As Indigo is doing here, a horse naturally eats for 16-18 hours a day, constantly nibbling to keep their bellies full and "fermentation vat" (large intestines/cecum) working properly. Do the math, that is a lot. This is why horses when put onto our two or three times a day eating schedule have problems such as colic (gas/impacted feed, because horses cannot throw up due to their sphincter on their stomach being incredibly strong), gastic ulcers, stereotypies (AKA stable "vices" by horse people but a vice is only something that is inconvenient. It may be inconvenient for us but for a horse it is what he does to make up for lack of natural environment) out of boredom and lack of locomotion from traveling as they eat grass or play with their herd mates.

Being around horses and doing what I do, a lot of this accumulates.

An average 1000 pound horse will produce 50 pounds of these road apples a day. This can accumulate to make an average of the horses weight in a few weeks. Now thats talking a lot of sh*t!

Horse babies are known as foals until they are a year old. A baby girl horse is a filly, a baby boy horse is a colt. When they turn a year they are considered yearlings.

A intact (he has all his...ahem, manly parts) male horse is a stallion. Stallions can be dangerous and unpredictable. Even the most quiet stallion can very easily hurt a human when he is angry or scared. I am not a stallion person. I don't need 1000 or more pounds of raging testosterone around.
So the saying goes, a good stallion will make an even better gelding. Geldings are castrated male horses. They do not have the hormones stallions do and even some mares do so a lot of riders prefer them.
Not me, I am a mare person. A mare is a mature female horse. Indigo is my mare.

It is truely amazing that two creatures so extreme and different, the human, ultimate predator and the horse, ultimate prey animal, can coexist and achieve great things together.

Horses are great. (photo by my best friend Lisa of Indigo and I. I thinks she successfully captured the essence of the silent conversation between a woman and her horse)They listen to your worries, complaints, hopes and wishes and never talk back. They are great teachers. They humble you when you get your head in the clouds by planting you firmly on your butt, they are there when you have a bad day and need someone unbaiased to talk to. Best of all they love you for who you are, always nicker at feeding time and never refuse a carrot or two (or three or four or five OK INDIGO STOP BEGGING!!)

Last but not least, my dad (AKA: Big Al) on his Iron horse, a custom Kawasaki vulcan 1500. You know he washes those rims with a toothbrush. He never taught me how to brush my teeth! Harumph.

So feel free to sling any horse related questions my way. I have been carriage driving since 12 noon Saturday and got in the door and started writing this at 11 pm. I'll start all over again tomorrow at 3 pm and don't have a completely free weekend until Christmas. I think I need a shower now that I have been horsing around all day. I couldn't imagine my life without a horse.


HBFG said...

Horses are THE BEST! What a cool post! :))

Desert Rose said...

Great info you have shared with everyone!!!

Ed said...

Extremely well done! Love the post info and the pics..:-))

Anonymous said...

A nice summary of many horsie facts - loved the pictures, too!

Anonymous said...

your first photo of the eye is an outstanding photo!
it's so innocent & sincere i love it

Anonymous said...

Absolutely love your post! The picture of the horse's eye is simply stunning!

Jayke said...

Lovely post! Being around horses so much, it's refreshing to hear some basic horsey facts, haven't read those since I was a horse crazy 7 year old trying to lay my hands on every horse book in the school library.

thecrazysheeplady said...

Fantastic eye shot!

Anonymous said...

I learned a lot! Thanks for the great post and pictures. :)

Sydney said...

Thank you for all your kind comments.

Shirley said...

Looks like we had some of the same inspiration with eyes and ears. Well done, and informative.

Tammy said...

I like the shot of the team!

Lori Skoog said...

Now this was an education. Thanks for posting the challenge in this way.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

lol! The horse apples cracked me up so much. Ain't that the truth! This was a wonderfully educational post and full of great photos to boot.
I loved reading about your relationship with Indigo, too. After a long and difficult road together, Baby Doll has also earned a permanent place in my heart, whether or not I ever ride her again, or not. She turns 17 this March and will spend the rest of her life with me....if she's ok with that. lol!

Like you, even after all the struggles I've been through with horses, I can't imagine not having them in my life.


Jame said...

I really need to up my picture taking in order to keep up...I don't yet need an external hard drive for all my pictures! Plus some of yours tend to be really artistic...I enjoy them, so thanks for sharing!
I don't remember every horse I've ridden, sadly, but I remember a lot of stories, some crazier than others...

Holly said...

love that first shot!

flowerweaver said...

Very educational post, and lovely pics to illustrate it! I've always admired the pic of you and Indigo you use on your blog. Adding the one of your dad and the iron horse was a nice touch!

Jo said...

Wow, I learned a lot. :)

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Wonderful post! Thanks for the information. There is Soooooo much to learn about horses...

I always try to get the ears pricked forward when I take photos of horses. Sometimes it's a real challenge!

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