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Horses are majestic animals that are as powerful as they are beautiful.

They have oval-shaped hooves, long tails, short hair, long slender legs, muscular and deep torso build, long thick necks, and large elongated heads. The mane is a region of coarse hairs, which extends along the dorsal side of the neck in both domestic and wild species.

Humans and horses have partnered for thousands of years. Before the advent of the internal combustion engine, equines were the major source of transportation and motive power. Today, horses still serve in work roles but are just as common for sport, recreation and hobby.

There are more than 300 breeds of horse in the world today, developed for many different uses.

The average lifespan of a domestic horse is 25 to 30 years. Uncommonly, a few animals live into their 40s and, occasionally, beyond. The oldest verifiable record was “Old Billy”, a 19th-century horse that lived to the age of 62.

Size can vary depending on the breed and its intended use, but can range from 55 to 1,000 kilograms (120 to 2,200 pounds) in mass and 76 to 183 centimeters (30 to 72 in) height.

Horses range from the very slim and slender (e.g. Akhal Teke) to massive and muscular (e.g. Ardenner) — some are built for speed, some for strength, some for nimbleness, some for steadiness, but most for some combination of these.

Horses are highly social herd animals that prefer to live in a group. There also is a linear dominance hierarchy in any herd. They will establish a “pecking order” for the purpose of determining which herd member directs the behavior of others, eats and drinks first, and so on.Horses communicate in various ways, including vocalizations such as nickering, squealing or whinnying; touch, through mutual grooming or nuzzling; smell; and body language.

Horses have bones and ligaments (the elastic bands that connect bones at the joints) in their legs that can lock together in a special way. That allows the animals to be completely relaxed while standing.

However, horses lie down when they require REM sleep. Typically, the amount of REM sleep they require is very small (about 30 minutes per day), so they don’t need to lie down often. When horses lie down to sleep, others in the herd remain standing, awake or in a light doze, keeping watch.

Horses have the largest eyes of any land mammal. Using both eyes horses see virtually 350 degrees and the horse almost has a complete “sphere of vision” around its body with only a few small “blind spots.”

While humans have just 3 ear muscles, horses have 10. This means they can move their ears 180 degrees and can single out a special area to listen to.

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