The family of equines defines a mammal with a single developed finger on each of its limbs ending in a large hoof. It includes horses, donkeys and zebras.

equine running

What is an equine ?

Origins and species

Nowadays, there is only one genus called "equus". Originally, our earth was also home to the ancestors of the horse, the so-called hippidion or mesohippus. The "equids" are a family of mammals that includes the following three groups of species: horses, donkeys and zebras. Equids are viviparous, i.e. they give birth to offspring and suckle them, unlike oviparous animals which give eggs. More precisely, among the equids, there are 3 main species : horses, donkeys and zebras.

Good to know : in the United States, and since 2001, all equidae must be identified by an electronic transponder placed in their neck, or even by the installation of an ear tag and registered.

The characteristics of an equine

Equids have the following characteristics :

  • Its hair helps it to regulate its body temperature
  • It has a mane and a tail (called manes)
  • It belongs to the order of ungulates because it walks on its fingertips and to the order of perissodactyls because it has an odd number of fingers
  • Our equid friend is a monogastric herbivore because it has only one stomach, unlike the cow which has a stomach with several compartments. Therefore, the cow is a ruminant herbivore
  • Like the cow, the horse and other equids are quadrupeds : they walk on all four limbs (not on legs like dogs or cats)
  • The horse weighs about 1100 lbs as an adult. The draught horse can weigh up to 2800 lbs.

Note : the horse has only one finger which corresponds to the medium of the human hand.

The different types of equidae

There are different types of equidae, namely :

  • The horse, which is used as an animal for leisure, work, income or for horse shows.
  • The donkey, of which there are 7 local breeds recognised in USA : the Contentin donkey, the Boubonnais donkey, the Poitou donkey, the Pyrenean donkey, the Provence donkey, the Normandy donkey, the Berry big black donkey and concerning the other donkeys, they are often various crossbreeds with unrecognised origins and therefore not registered at birth.
  • The mule and the bardot are defined as hybrids:

- The mule is generally sterile, resulting from a cross between a jackass and a mare and as big as a horse with its large ears.

- The bardot is sterile and a cross between a horse and a donkey.

  • The hemione is an Asian equine, like the evening primrose (a wild Asian species called the Tibetan wild ass). The primrose differs from the horse in that it is faster at running.
  • The zebra, of which the best known types are : the mountain zebra, the lowland zebra.

Equine : how do we describe its anatomy ?

Here are the terms that allow us to identify the anatomy of an equine in order to better understand and care for it or use it :

  • caudal : towards the tail
  • cranial : towards the skull
  • dorsal : on the top of the body or behind
  • rostral : in line with the nose and mouth
  • ventral : on the front of the body or in front
  • palmar : downwards, in relation to the front limbs
  • plantar : downwards, in relation to the hind limbs
  • proximal : near the point of attachment of a limb
  • distal : away from the hook of a limb
  • lateral : towards the outside of the body
  • median : towards the inside of the body

The equine and the human being

Like humans, horses are vertebrates. However, although there are some similarities with the anatomy of humans, they are called different things. Humans have fingernails while horses have hooves. We have palms and soles, while the horse has cannons. As for our wrist, it is the knee of the foreleg in the horse. The same is true of our knee, which is the stifle of the animal, and our ankle, which is compared to the hock of the horse's hind leg.

By Luisina Giovannini

I created Horse Placenta with the aim of showing all the beauty of this incredible animal which is the horse. I hope you have enjoyed reading this article. I invite you to continue reading to find out more.

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