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Portal:Horses

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Horses

Horse and foal
The horse (Equus ferus caballus) is a hoofed (ungulate) mammal, a subspecies of one of seven extant species of the family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today. Humans began to domesticate horses around 4000 BC, and their domestication is believed to have been widespread by 3000 BC; by 2000 BC the use of domesticated horses had spread throughout the Eurasian continent. Although most horses today are domesticated, there are still populations of wild and feral horses. There are over 300 breeds of horses in the world today, developed for many different uses.

The horses anatomy enables them to make use of speed to escape predators and they have a well-developed sense of balance and a strong fight-or-flight instinct. Related to this need to flee from predators in the wild is an unusual trait: horses are able to sleep both standing up and lying down. Horses and humans interact in many ways, including a wide variety of sport competitions, non-competitive recreational pursuits and working activities. A wide variety of riding and driving techniques have been developed, using many different styles of equipment and methods of control. Many products are derived from horses, including meat, milk, hide, hair, bone, and pharmaceuticals extracted from the urine of pregnant mares.

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Generalstudbookvolume6closed.jpg
The Jersey Act was a British regulation passed in 1913 by the Jockey Club to prevent the registration of most American-bred Thoroughbred horses in the British General Stud Book. It began with the desire of the British to prevent an influx of American-bred racehorses of possibly impure bloodlines in the early 1900s. Many American-bred horses were being imported to Europe because a number of the states in the United States (US) had banned gambling, which depressed Thoroughbred racing as well as breeding. American breeders were sending their surplus horses to Europe to race and retire to a breeding career. Because of the American Civil War and the late beginning of the registration of American Thoroughbreds, many British felt that American-bred horses were not purebred Thoroughbreds.

In 1913, the Jockey Club and the owners of the General Stud Book passed a regulation, named after the proposer of the Act, Lord Jersey, that prohibited the registration of horses in the General Stud Book unless all their ancestors had also been registered in that book. Although American breeders protested the Act, it was not until 1949 that it was repealed. The main factors behind the repeal were the racing success of ineligible horses in Europe, the damage that the Act was doing to British and Irish breeders, and the fact that by 1949, the impure ancestors had receded far back in most horses' ancestry.

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Breton horse
The Breton is a breed of draft horse. It was developed in Brittany, a province in northwest France, from native ancestral stock dating back thousands of years. The Breton was created through the crossbreeding of many different European and Oriental breeds. In 1909, a stud book was created, and in 1951 the book was officially closed. The breed is often chestnut in color, and is strong and muscular. There are three distinct subtypes of the Breton, each coming from a different area of Brittany. The Corlay Breton is the smallest type, and is generally used for light draft and under saddle work. The Postier Breton is used for harness and light farm work. The Heavy Draft Breton is the largest subtype, and is generally used for the hardest draft work. It has been used in military, draft and agricultural capacities. The Breton has been used to improve and create many other draft breeds, as well as being bred to produce mules.

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Horseracing Churchill Downs.jpg
Credit: Jeff Kubina

A Thoroughbred race horse at Churchill Downs. The Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing. Thoroughbreds are considered a "hot-blooded" horse, known for their agility, speed and spirit, and they have been influential in the creation of many important breeds.

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