Horses need to be well looked after and need regular exercise, shelter, grazing and feeding as well as grooming and maintenance on their hooves.
If they are tended well, the can live to about 25 or 30 years, but there are some that have gone way beyond that, with one of the biggest phenomena witnessed when salt mining ponies are retired, often living to beyond 40 years of age.
It is thought that the rock salt has a beneficial effect on longevity and humans could do well to learn the secrets of this. Legend has it that in the mid 1800s, one particular horse, Old Billy, pushed on to the ripe of age of 62 in the UK.
Horses and ponies vary quite a great deal in terms of size and weight according to breeding, but these factors are also dependent on nutrition, exercise and the conditions they are kept in.
The largest dimensions ever recorded for a horse was a guy called Mammoth that lived in the mid 1800s. The animal was a staggering 219 centimetres tall and weighed a whopping 1,500 kilograms, making him a true behemoth. On the other end of the scale, Thumbelina, who is still alive, is only 43 centimeters tall and weighs only 26 kilograms.
A lot of people get confused as to whether a horse is a horse… or a pony. The truth is that they are the same species and the names are only given by humans to differentiate in the size of the animals. Equines are measured in ‘hands’ and the accepted rule of thumb is that if the animal is 1.5 meters tall, then it is a horse and if it is shorter, it is a pony.
Ponies are usually bred for more ruggedness to do work, or even to be ridden by young adults or kids. There are some differences: ponies are more intelligent, for example, and tend to be calmer than horses. They are also thicker set and bigger boned and generally more rugged than thoroughbreds which are normally used in racing or jumping competitions.