Humans began domesticating horses around 4000 BC, and their domestication is believed to have been widespread by 3000 BC. Female horses, called mares, carry their young for approximately 11 months, and a young horse, called a foal, can stand and run shortly following birth. Most domesticated horses begin training under saddle or in harness between the ages of two and four. They reach full adult development by age five, and have an average lifespan of between 25 and 30 years.
Studies have indicated that horses perform a number of cognitive tasks on a daily basis, meeting mental challenges that include food procurement and identification of individuals within a social system. They also have good spatial discrimination abilities. They are naturally curious and apt to investigate things they have not seen before. Studies have assessed equine intelligence in areas such as problem solving, speed of learning, and memory. Horses excel at simple learning, but also are able to use more advanced cognitive abilities that involve categorization and concept learning. They can learn using habituation, desensitization, classical conditioning, and operant conditioning, and positive and negative reinforcement. One study has indicated that horses can differentiate between "more or less" if the quantity involved is less than four.
What do you need to take care of a horse?
Basic requirements include adequate and appropriate feed, water, shelter, space and exercise, company, health care, and treatment of illness or injury.
Clean water must always be available. A dam or self-filling trough is best. Bath tubs, must be checked daily and re-filled if necessary. Dams and self-filling troughs should also be checked frequently. As a guide, a horse may drink 25-45 litres per day in hot weather. Buckets are not suitable as a permanent water supply as they can be tipped over.
Horses must have access to an adequate amount of good quality feed in the form of roughage (pasture, hay or chaff) to keep them in good condition. A guide to the amounts to feed is 1-2 kg per 100kg of bodyweight.
Exercise and space
Horses must have enough space to walk and run around, unless they are exercised daily.
Horses need shelter from extremes of rain, sun and wind. Trees or a walk-in shed / stable make suitable shelter. A waterproof rug can be used to protect the horse from cold weather but must be checked daily.
Check your horse carefully at least daily to make sure it has enough feed and water.
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