You may not believe it, since I’m such a big strong man now, but I was a little girl once. As a little girl, I went through all of the standard phases: the love of pink, the hatred of pink, wanting to be a princess/veterinarian/painter, toilet humor and every other stage of development. However, there was one important chapter of life that I’m proud to say I missed:
I have never been a horse girl. However, about a year or two ago, I spent hours learning about the failures of the horse so that I could slander them at any given opportunity, which leads me to this impassioned (and hopefully scientifically accurate) rant.
Horses are living proof that sometimes evolution isn’t a good thing. The evolution of horses goes a little like this: About 58 million years ago, the first horse came onto the scene. Eohippus was about the size of a large dog, and had three or four toes on each foot. Having this many toes was excellent for nimbly darting around the forests where they originally lived. However, once their descendants left the forest and moved onto the plains, they started losing toes. Fewer toes means a better ability to run very fast in a straight line, and thus a better ability to outrun predators.
Unfortunately, once evolution started favoring speed, it was unable to stop. Being so optimized for speed has transformed the horse into a creature that is fragile both physically and emotionally. For example, horses do not actively breathe when they run. Rather than expanding and contracting their chest, they simply let their abdominal organs slosh around to compress and expand their lungs. While this lets them keep their breathing in sync with their movements, it also means horse guts are really good at moving around, which means their intestines keep getting tangled. Additionally, horses can only breathe through their nostrils, which, as far as I can tell, serves no purpose except to kill them if they get any sort of nasal blockage.
Horse guts are just one big stew of mistakes. For example, evolution has given them a complete inability to vomit. This may seem like a benefit (especially if you’ve ever had a nasty case of the stomach flu), but there’s a reason throwing up was invented. If a horse eats something it shouldn’t or catches some kind of virus, instead of puking it up, their stomach just ruptures—evolution at its finest.
According to vetmed.ucdavis.edu, horses have seven blood types. That is simply too many blood types for my taste. Sometimes galloping makes their lungs bleed, and the blood problems don’t stop there. Because of the way horse legs are built (like one enormous toe), blood leaves the heart, pumps down into the legs, and then gets shot back up to the heart at supersonic speeds. Coincidentally (or not), horses are prone to burst veins—who could have guessed?
So, naturally, the horse’s weakest point is its legs. The legs of a horse basically end in a giant toenail. Imagine, for a moment, that your entire body weight is being supported on your toenails. Now imagine the same thing, but you weigh 1,500 pounds. That’s a horse. Horse hooves can also fall off, which is a fact I would be much more comfortable not knowing. If the hoof swells up for any reason (and there are a lot of reasons), there isn’t anywhere for the swelling to go, so the hoof just pops off. Hooves can also fall off if there’s too much selenium in the horse’s diet. Or not enough selenium. In addition, horse shins have almost nothing between the skin and the bone—not abnormal for the shin, but the skin itself is under so much tension that a cut requiring stitches will virtually never heal, since the skin isn’t loose enough to get the edges together.
Not only are horses a nightmare physically, they’ve also evolved to be emotional messes. Evolving to outrun predators also means developing a great deal of fear. Horses are afraid of everything under the sun, which doesn’t help their broken circulatory system one bit. If they can’t run, they go insane with anxiety and try to kill everyone around them and then themselves, and are frequently successful. Horses are stupidly breakable for an animal with that much muscle mass. I haven’t even touched on all the other leg bones yet, because that could practically be its own article. If you’re curious, visit theguardian.com or come see me and I’ll yell at you about why horse amputations don’t work. The horse is the most miserable animal to blight the Earth. I would be perfectly happy if they all just walked away and never came back. Horse girls of the world: you are the reason they keep making more of these godforsaken animals. Please stop placing that much trust in something that would sooner trample you than look at you—I just can’t condone that kind of behavior.
Ollie Arnold is a sophomore majoring in mathematics and minoring in computer science.