Horse Tails: Facts about equines
and those who love them


Monty Roberts is a real-life horse whisperer who uses a technique called “joining up” to calm horses and win their trust. He was also good friends with James Dean, who lived with him while filming East of Eden.

“Joining up" is the process of working one-on-one with a horse using non-physical intimidation tactics (like eye contact and body language) to make a horse respect you as dominant. There are several signs to look for, such as, opening an ear towards the person or licking and chewing, which show the horse accepts your dominance.  At that point, you can change your attitude to a less imposing one and allow the horse to come to you. 
-The Man Who Listens to Horses: The Story of a Real-Life Horse Whisperer by Monty Roberts


The West Side or Tenth Street Cowboys were required by law to ride ahead of trains on the West Side Line in Manhattan carrying red flags and warning people of oncoming trains. This practice ran for 85 years before the “West Side Improvement,” as the project was called, raised the West Side Line above street level where it became known as the “High Line,” and eliminated the need for the Cowboys.


Seabiscuit lived in a double wide stall at home to accommodate Pocatell, a stray dog who took to him, Jojo the spider monkey, and Pumpkin the pony who kept him calm and often travelled with him to races.
            -Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Lauren Hillenbrand


Anna Sewell’s publisher paid her £20 for Black Beauty. To date, fifty million copies of the book have been sold. (£20 in 1870 would be a little over £914 today. And thanks to Google converter, that would equal about $1435.25. 
            -The Times, February 2008


Scientists in Italy cloned the first horse in 2003. If you wanted to clone your trusted mount? It would cost around $150,000.
            -Amazing Horse Facts and Trivia


Alexander the Great gave his horse, Bucephalus, a state funeral and founded a city called Bucephala in his honor.


The traditional Mongolian game baz-kiri involved horses and riders trying to gain control of a goat carcass and carry it to a goal.
            -Encyclopedia of the Horse


The Brumby is a wild breed of horse that lives in Australia. Their name likely came from the aboriginal word baroomby which means “wild,” because they are nearly impossible to train.
            -Encyclopedia of the Horse


The only truly wild horse whose ancestors were never domesticated is the Przewalski's horse. Sadly, the last wild one was seen in 1968 in Mongolia and now they exist only in captivity.


Although he did not weigh Secretariat’s heart during his necropsy, Dr. Thomas Swerczek estimates that it weighed 22 lbs. An average horse’s heart weighs 8.5 lbs.


Hippotherapy (from the Greek word hippos, meaning horse) or equine-assisted therapy is used to stimulate and strengthen muscles while improving balance and coordination in people with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, autism and other neurological disorders.

Through a coincidence of physiology, the equine pelvis and gait are similar to that of a human.  As a rider sits astride a walking or trotting horse, his or her nervous system receives certain motor, sensory and cognitive cues from the rhythmic movements of the horse.  By improving posture and muscle tone, hippotherapy also can help overcome speech and language deficits.

Hippotherapy differs from therapeutic riding in that it must be conducted by physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists and other licensed professionals.  A special handler leads the horse while two trained volunteers, called sidewalkers, remain on either side, often holding onto the rider.

Dr. Catherine Mazzola, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Morristown Medical Center and Hackensack University Medical Center, says, “I’ve had many patients report positive results from hippotherapy, especially in the areas of balance and coordination.”  In addition, parents state their children have improved in fine- and gross-motor skills, speech, and independent task accomplishment.

Hippotherapy is no walk in the park for the horse!  In fact, horses at Mane Stream of Oldwick, NJ, receive massage therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic treatments to ease the stresses of the job.  Each horse is carefully screened for size, age and temperament.  The horse also must have a symmetrical gait.

            --“Horse Sense” by Mary Ann McGann in New Jersey Monthly, Nov. 2012
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