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Weird Fact: Horses Can't Throw Up

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  • Tip Bones

Here's a fact you probably never even thought about (and probably didn't ask): horses, while so athletic that we have a whole measurement named for them to describe the power of a machine, are actually really, REALLY fragile. And I'm not just saying that. I live with four horses myself, and between the dental work, food curation, and inclination to leg and foot injuries, I sometimes look around for four apocalyptic horsemen to match my equine friends. But probably the biggest threat to a horse is their own gastrointestinal system.

Horses cannot throw up. That means that anything that goes in has to come out at-- ahem-- the other end. The physiological reason is pretty complicated, but it comes down to horses having esophageal muscles that are closed too strongly, and a mental vomit reflex that is too weak to overpower it. Unfortunately, horses also seem to lack the sense that humans might have to not consume actual garbage, like hoses, twine, and literal rocks and dirt. The good news is that colic, the condition that arises when a horse eats something bad that they cant throw up, is treatable, by consuming a lot of water and psyllium (think a big glass of Metamucil) and walking around. If that doesn't work, surgery is also an option, although any horse lover will tell you that your wallet will feel much worse for it.

I never feel grateful when I pray to the porcelain god, but compared to a horse, I'm very fortunate!


Photo: Pixabay

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