How do horses adapt to their Environment | Facts we should know

Nov 05, 2023 | Super Equestrian


How do horses adapt to their environment

Horses are one of the most wonderful creatures among all other mammals, according to those who are familiar with them. They have been our incomparable companions for many years. These creatures are not only involved in farming, and reproduction but also in riding, and various athletic shows. 

Like their primal ancestors, horses can adapt to their environment. Despite being sensitive to the new atmosphere, they have adaptive abilities. Changing structural parts like their hairs, legs, hooves, ears, and tails is common for environmental adaptation. Besides, they can adapt to their surroundings through behavioral and psychological changes, which include migrating, herding, responsiveness, and interacting with humans. As well as their social and emotional changes to adapt to the environment. 

You may be curious to know more about how horses adapt to their environment. Let's take a journey then! 

Physical adaptation

When the weather changes, the first thing you will notice about the changes in your skin and hair texture or color. The main reason behind it is an adaptation to surroundings. 

All living things have the ability to adapt to different environments, horses are no different. Whether climate change, seasonal change, or new surroundings, horses naturally adapt to all environments. 

There are Some structural changes that will help you to understand their adaptation. Such as 

  1. Coat/Hair: The thickness of horse coats or hair changes with the season. They grow thick coats to adapt to cold weather. Similarly, horses naturally shed extra hair in summer to increase air circulation through their body. 
  2. Leg: Horses are used in human work like pulling heavy things, transportation, and farming. According to circumstances, and environment, they enlarge their legs and strong muscles. 
  3. Hooves: Horses' hooves change with the condition of the surface or ground. They develop flat and big hooves for wet or swampy places. As well as small and hard hooves for solid ground.
  4. Ear: Although horses have poor eyesight, they have great hearing. Horses adapt hearing to their surrounding circumstances. It helps them to sense danger and detect the risky area. 
  5. Mouth: As grazing animals, their jawline and teeth are adapted to chew any kind of leaf as well as stiffed grasses. Horses are capable of grinding any hard feed such as dry forage.
  6. Tail: Horses use tails to keep away harmful pests. This adaptation protects them from insect biting and prevents illness. Besides, they use their tails to keep balance and move quickly to escape.  

Behavioral adaptation

Like physical adaptation, horses do change their behavior in order to adapt to the environment. There are several behavioral changes in how they adjust to their surrounding for example-

  1. Migration: Migrating from one place to another is a common thing among animals. This changes their social behavior, predator avoidance, herding, and so on. Through this process they get used to adapting to any environment easily. 
  2. Herding: Herding is a horse's natural instinct. This may affect their behavior like marking specific areas, taking lead, and meeting new mates. Also makes them easy and stable while interacting with other horses.  
  3. Foraging: Horses are plant-eating animals. They are adapted to eat plants, grasses or grains. They can stay stable and eat reserved hay or silage when pasture is inaccessible. 
  4. Responsiveness: Horses respond instantly when they feel attacked or sense any danger. They use their legs as a quick response if any predator attacks them. They flee from the invaded area after detecting the risk. 
  5. Human interaction: We use horses in our various activities like farming, pulling a carriage, and so on and it is natural to interact with horses. You can notice their behavioral changes during an interaction. 

Horses show protectiveness while riding or training. They can sense their owner or keepers' smell, face, and attention. And they feel relaxed and act friendly when they see their trusted hooman!  

Psychological adaptation 

Psychological adaptation refers to the internal reaction to adjust to new surroundings. When you are in a new environment that affects your mind and mood. For example, the fear of cockroaches helps you to stay away from those formidable insects! 

Here are some psychological adaptations of horses -

  • Socialization: Horses are highly social animals. While herding they tend to communicate with their mate with neighing and body language. Because of being social, they develop amazing bonds with humans.
  • Learning and memory: horses are quick learners. They can easily be trained with new techniques and adapt to their surroundings. This beautiful creature has the ability to remember for a long time. Whether humans or other animals, they remember all their actions, behavior, and appearance. 
  • Emotional adaptation: Emotional adaptation refers to changes in horses' mental health, such as trauma or stress. Horses are so sensitive and easily get tormented when they enter a different atmosphere or isolated place. 

“ Oh Boss, I'm so stressed out with this new environment !”

Horses test us when they feel stressed and if you want to know more about why they test us you can visit our link why is my horses testing me

Domestication and Adaptation

As domestic animals, horses develop adaptability based on their surroundings or environment. This domestication evolves horses' behavioral changes as well as it allows them to get familiar with domestic environments such as coats, feeding, grazing, shelter, and protection from other animals. Besides the reproductive system of horses, socialization, and herding are included. 

Domestic horses managed to adapt their physical structure for survival. As prey animals, they have developed a wide field of vision to detect any danger near them. It improves their chances of survival. Their eyes are adapted to gain this wide sight.

Horses are grazing animals with small stomachs. They adapt to digest a small amount of fiber through walking and moving. They need regular exercise and access to pasture. As a keeper make sure you take good care of your horses to improve their adaptability.   

Conclusion

Overall it is understandable that horses are amazing creatures. They also need to adapt to their surroundings to live and survive. The way they adapt to their environment is by adjusting physical body parts like coats, legs, and tails. They adapt to behavioral changes to respond as well as interact with humans and other animals. Expressing emotion, the learning process,  ability to remember objects are part of their psychological adaptation. 

It is important for you to understand how horses adapt to their environment in order to take proper care of and protect them. 

I hope this article helps you a little and please share your thoughts with us and how you think they adapt to their new environment! 

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