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Ag in the Classroom


Alabama Ag in the Classroom •

Equine Unit • • • • • ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• A Horse of a Different Color Skills: Science, Art Objective: Students will explore the diversity of horse coat colors, reproduce an existing color and develop and name a new color.

Background Horses, just like people, come in all different shapes, sizes and colors. Just like there are different ethnic groups of people, there are different breeds of horses.

Arabian horses originated in the Middle East, while the Trakehner had its origin in East Prussia. Size among different breeds of horses varies greatly. The American Miniature Horse does not grow taller than 34 inches at the withers, while the American Quarter Horse must be no less than 14 hands at the withers to be eligible for registration. (1 hand=4 inches) Just like people have different hair colors, horses have different coat colors.

We call a person with golden hair "blonde," but a horse that is golden yellow is called "palomino."

Visual Arts

1. Provide each student with a copy of Student Worksheet A. Have students follow along as you read the directions and the descriptions of the coat variations.

2. Provide copies of Student Worksheet B. Have students use crayons or tempera paint to develop new colors. Have students name their colors and explain the names.

–  –  –

bay The horse's body color ranges from reddish tan to reddish brown. The mane and tail are both black.

The tips of its ears, muzzle and lower legs are black.

black The horse's body is true black without any light areas. The mane and tail are also black.

brown The horse's body color can be either brown or black, with lighter areas around the muzzle, eyes, flank and inside upper legs. The mane and tail are black.

chestnut The body color ranges from dark red to brownish red, with a mane and tail the same color. Sometimes the mane and tail may be flaxen (pale yellow).

white The white horse is born white and remains white its entire life. The mane and tail are also white. Eyes can be brown, hazel or blue.

–  –  –

Produced by Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, OSU, inn cooperation with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the Oklahoma State Department of Education, 2005.

What Kind of Horse Are You?

Objectives: Students will

• Learn about horses and their usefulness to farmers before tractors replaced them.

• Demonstrate an understanding of measurement by measuring classmates with a tape measure and recording their height.

• Know how to read a chart.

Materials Needed:

• Tape measure

• What Kind of Horse are you worksheet

• Horsepower: the Wonder of Draft Horses by Cris Peterson Keywords: measurement, breeds, mare, foal, stallion, gelding, machinery, harness, pony, hands, labor, wither, height, equipment, training, recreation, pleasure

Brief Description:

Horses have been useful animals for thousands of years. Horses are great for working and running. They have strong teeth, sharp ears, keen eyes, and a good sense of smell. A horse has larger eyes than any other land animal except the ostrich and the two eyes can move independently. A horse can look forward with one eye and backward with the other eye. They have wide nostrils to help them breathe easily and also have long, muscular legs that give them strength to pull loads and run at fast speeds.

There are more than 150 breeds and types of horse and ponies. These various breeds are divided into three main groups: light horses, heavy horses, and ponies. Light horses have thin legs, small bones, and weigh less than 1300 pounds. Heavy horses have large bones, thick, sturdy legs, and weigh more than 2000 pounds. Ponies are small horses that stand less than 58 inches high when full grown and weigh less than 800 pounds.

Horses are measured in a unit called hands. One hand equals four inches. The horse is measured from the ground to the highest point of the withers. The withers are the ridge between the shoulder bones.

Foals are newborn horses. The foal is either a colt, which is a male less than four years old, or a filly, which is a female less than four years old. Foals are able to stand shortly after they are born and within a few hours they can run about. A mare is a female horse that is more than four years old. A pregnant mare will carry her foal for about 11 months. A stallion is a male horse that can be used for breeding and a gelding is a male horse that is not able to be used for breeding.

In the "good old days" a farmer would have to keep as many as six teams of horses for farm labor. That meant spending an hour each morning just to feed and harness the horses before going to work in the fields. It took another hour at the end of the day to put the horses away.

Since these "machines" came without headlights, a farmer couldn't work after the sun went down, not to mention the fact that the machines would eat as much as one fifth of the crops for energy.

You'd think with all that animal labor a farmer would have more than enough help. But during heavy harvest times, as many as 20 extra people might be needed to help do the work on a 440acre farm.

It would be nice if that was the way things happened. But, like most revolutions, the change from horses to mechanical horsepower was slow to catch on. Tractors were first introduced in the Midwest around the 1900's. But those first machines were cumbersome, ineffiCient, steamoperated vehicles. It wasn't until the middle 1930's that tractors improved enough to really replace mules and horses as a labor source.

It was this second generation of tractors, along with other machines and farm equipment, which helped pull American agriculture through those grim days of the Depression, into the most efficient and productive industry the country had ever seen. Like other industries in this country, agriculture has benefited from many improvements in technology. It's not an accident that today's farmer can farm more land, and produce more food more efficiently, than ever before.

Horses are still important in agriculture; particularly in the western United States. Horses are still used on cattle ranches for roping and branding cattle and for carrying cowboys through rough country to help round up the herds. Horses are also used in non-agriculture settings. In larger cities, horses are used by police to patrol busy areas which are often clogged with traffic. Horses are also used for recreation and pleasure. Some people use horses which are bred and trained for specific purposes, horse racing, polo, cutting, reining, etc.

–  –  –

Day 2

3. Explain to students how horses are measured.

4. Divide the students into groups of two.

5. Have the students take turns measuring one another in inches. The students should measure each other from the ground to the top of their shoulders, like horses are measured. The students should take this number and, with the teacher's help, divide it by four to find out how tall they are in hands.

6. Have the students locate their height in hands from the chart on the worksheet. The students will then discover what type of horses they are.

7. Once the students figure out what type of horse they are, have them research this horse.

The students can find where the horse originates, the classification of their horse (light, heavy, pony), what their horse is known for (racing, pulling, roping, etc.), how much their horse weighS, and what color their horse is. The students should show a picture of their horse, if possible. The teacher should tailor the presentation to each grade level.

8. The older students can research farm machinery, Create a timeline of when each machine was invented and how it has improved.


Students should understand the importance of horse in agriculture through the centuries and the units to measure the height of the horse. Encourage students to read books about horses, Horses by Gail Gibbons, Leah's Pony by Elizabeth Friedrich.

–  –  –

Shetland Pony A traditional and popular mount for children in the USA, this hardy little (9.2 to

10.2 hands) dark-colored, thick-coated pony originating in the Shetland Islands of Scotland is a gentle and easy to train worker, capable of pulling twice its weight in driving harness.

Ponies of America-Pony of the Americas (Appaloosa) These western-type ponies are smaller (14.1 and less) versions of the colorful Appaloosa breed of stock horse. Used mostly under western tack, they are popular for pleasure and show competition. Their color coat is the typical spots and blankets of the Appaloosa.

Hackney Pony One of the most popular driving breeds in the world, the Hackney Pony (14.1 hands or less) and the Hackney Horse (15.1 hands) are known for their spirit, their refinement and their high stepping action. Both are dark-colored, with high tails and smallish heads also held high.

Quarter Horse The classic horse of the American cowboy and still used by ranchers today, the short-coupled, heavily muscled and gentle Quarter Horse is a descendant of the Thoroughbred and a popular family horse. Versatile for both pleasure and competition.

Thoroughbred Long selected only on the basis of soundness, speed and stamina, and one of the first to close its stud book, the Thoroughbred is the world's preeminent race horse.

Originated in England around 1700, the breed has both tall distance runners and short-coupled sprinters.

Belgian A draft breed originating in Belgium of great weight and traction power, usually chestnut and known for a good temperament, strong constitution and being a willing worker. The heaviest recorded horse (3,400 pounds) was a Belgian, who died in Iowa (USA) in 1948.



–  –  –

Objectives: Students will

• Research a specific breed of horse.

• Learn different information about their horse and report it orally or by writing their report.

• Complete the horse breeds worksheet.


• Eocene, Eohippus, Dawn Horse, ancient, Pliohippus, livestock, research, breeds

Brief Description:

Horses belong to a group called equine or equus. Equine is the scientific name given to the horse. Equus comes from the ancient Greek word meaning "quickness". This group consists of horses, ponies, mules, burros, zebras, and donkeys.

Horses can be traced to the Eocene period somewhere around 50 to 60 million years ago. Eohippus, or Dawn Horse, was about the size of a cocker spaniel-14 inches at the withers and weighed about 12 pounds. He had four toes on his front feet and three on the back. The first truly single-hoofed horse was Pliohippus, which evolved 7 million years ago.

There are more than 350 different breeds of horses and ponies. The average life span for the horse is between 20-25 years. The oldest recorded horse was an English barge horse; his name was "Old Billy", who lived to be 62. Some of the most popular breeds of horses are Quarter Horse, Thoroughbred, Arabian, Appaloosa, Tennessee Walking Horse, and the Morgan. The breed of horse that a person decides to buy depends on how they are going to use the horse.

Quarter Horses are preferred by people who work with cattle and have cow sense. Thoroughbreds are prized for their showing, racing, and jumping abilities.

Draft horses such as the Belgian, Clydesdale, Shire, and Percheron are used for pulling equipment and heavy loads. These are known as the "heavy" breeds that can weigh up to 2000 pounds or more and are at least 16 hands high.

A lot of ranches still rely on horses to specific jobs. The Quarter Horse is used extensively on ranches to gather, move, and brand cattle.


1. Have students research about a specific horse breed, using library resources and the Internet. Have them orally present the information they found on their horse.

2. Have students complete the word search worksheet.


–  –  –

Objective: Students will mathematically explore the costs associated with owning a horse.

Background Budgets are an essential part of everyday life. Your parents budget their money so they can pay the bills each month and pay for your hamburgers and shoes.

Store owners budget their money so they can pay their employees and keep merchandise in the store. Farmers must budget to pay for seeds to plant, maintenance of equipment, feed for their animals and many other expenses.

Just keeping one animal can cost a great deal of money, especially if it is a large animal, like a horse. Planning and budgeting come first. The purchase price is only the beginning. Maintenance of the horse often costs more. Maintenance includes feed, hay, veterinary care, tack and grooming supplies, just to name a few.

For someone who loves horses but can't afford to own one, there are several other alternatives. Some people lease horses, which is similar to leasing a car or truck. Leasing is cheaper than purchasing, but the maintenance costs are still there.

Taking riding lessons at a stable is another alternative. With this option, all you have to pay for are the lessons. Most stables either charge per hour or per lesson.

Language Arts

1. Read and discuss background.

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