Last Updated on March 11, 2022 by Allison Price
The heart pumps blood through the arteries to circulate the body. The blood flows from the heart through the arteries into the capillaries, then into the venules, and finally into the veins. Veins, unlike arteries are elastic and require muscles to return blood towards the heart.
Evolution dictates that horses have no muscle structure in their lower legs. How does blood flow from the hoof up to the heart through the lower leg?
Like other mammals, horses have one heart. The frog inside each horse’s hoof acts as a pump, pushing blood up each step. The frog acts as a shock absorber. This happens when the hooves remain in their natural, barefoot state. The hoof expands when it is placed on the ground and then fills up with blood. It contracts when it is picked up and the blood is returned to the heart. The body is pumped approximately one liter of blood every twenty steps. Each hoof is therefore a ‘heart’ that gives a horse five hearts.
Horseshoes entrap the hoof and prevent expansion. This reduces circulation, which in turn strains the horse’s heart. This is one of the many reasons to go barefoot. Hoof boots are a great alternative to metal shoes. They allow for expansion and can be used on uneven terrain and during barefoot transition.
Here are some facts about horsey hearts
* The horse’s heart is the same as the human one, but larger. Both pumps warm blood and are 4-chambered.
* The horse heart is located between the lungs, ribs, and above the diaphragm.
* Horse hearts weigh on average 7 to 9 pounds. Secretariat’s 12 pound heart was the largest recorded.
* Horses should rest at a heart rate of 40-60 bpm.
* Horses can suffer a heart attack.
* Which animal has five hearts? An earthworm!