Weird anatomy and physiology facts about horses!


As majestic and wonderful as horses are, they have some weird anatomy and physiology stuff that just sets them apart from the rest of the animal world.


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Perhaps you know all of these things already, or you are in dire need of horse small talk to weird out the next stranger that you meet. So here are some horse tidbits that will make that stranger either run away or propose to you:


  • Horses can’t vomit. The junction between the esophagus and the stomach is one of many sphincters in the horse’s body, and this one is crazy tight and strong. Additionally, when the stomach is full or over-full, the fullness actually presses against this sphincter and makes it tighter. If you see “stuff” coming from your horse’s mouth or nose, this is likely choke, a very dangerous medical emergency. Call the vet pronto!


  • Horses have evidence of their evolutionary past on their legs. Chestnuts and ergots are widely believed to be vestigial toes. Vestigial being the remnants of what once was. The other toes are thought to be the splint bones on either side of the cannon bone.


saxophone shaped chestnut on a white horse


  • Horses do not have gallbladders. In humans, gallbladders store bile that aids in the digestive process of fats. Horses, because of their constant grazing design, have no need to store bile for digestion later, and the amount of fat they eat is relatively small.


  • Horse eyes are among the largest of the land mammals…. the better to see you with…. They also have monocular vision – so each eye sees its own thing. Compare that to humans, which have binocular vision where our two eyes process one image.


horse eyes and blaze

They see *almost* everything.


  • Horses have a super duper hard time getting drunk. If it’s even possible at all. Horses produce a huge amount of alcohol dehydrogenase – the enzyme for breaking down alcohol and the products of fermentation, like everything they eat which ends up in their guts!.


  • Some Arabian horses have five lumbar vertebrae instead of six, and 17 pairs of ribs instead of 18. It’s not consistent among all Arabian horses.


side view of horse whiskers on gray horse

Tickle, tickle, tickle!!!


  • Horse whiskers are vibrissae – aka tactile hairs. These whiskers let your horse know where his chin is…because as amazing as his eyes are, they can’t see under his lips or chin.
  • A horse’s chompers will take up more space in their head than their brain will. Incidentally, the horse brain is about half the size of the human brain.


What other weird anatomy and physiology facts are there to know about horses?


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