Exercise

Many of the uses to which we put horses involve galloping racing, hunting foxes, chasing calves, or jumping fences. In an undisturbed situation, horses rarely move faster than a walk. Galloping is reserved for fleeing from prey. Given a choice, horses don't exercise at speed. They do like to leave their stalls, but if they are not with another horse, they choose to return to their stalls in 15 minutes. They will gallop, buck, and sometimes roll when first released from stall confinement, and will spend more time in these activities if they have been confined for long periods.

Fig. 1 Two stallions fighting. (View this art in color at www.dekker.com.)

Fig. 2 The flehmen or lipcurl response. This movement allows nonvolatile substances, such as urine, to run down the horse's lip into its nostril, where it enters a special organ the vomeronasal organ that detects socially and sexually significant substances. (View this art in color at www.dekker.com.)

Fig. 2 The flehmen or lipcurl response. This movement allows nonvolatile substances, such as urine, to run down the horse's lip into its nostril, where it enters a special organ the vomeronasal organ that detects socially and sexually significant substances. (View this art in color at www.dekker.com.)

agitated. When two strange horses meet, they stand nostril to nostril, sniffing one another's breath. Then one or both will squeal, a loud, high-pitched sound. They may also strike out with a forelimb at the same time. These are aggressive actions and can be the prelude to a fight. The aggressive horse pins its ears flat to its head and lunges toward the victim.[3] The more aggressive the threat, the more likely that the horse will show its teeth. Aggression can escalate to biting. Before kicking, a horse usually lashes its tail and then may kick with one or both hind limbs. Frightened horses show the whites of their eyes, turn their ears to the side, and clamp their tails close to their rumps. When playing or very excited, they hold their tails straight up.[3] Frustrated horses snort and paw the ground. They may twist their necks. Horses also communicate by odor (Fig. 2).

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