Wild Horses In The Okananagan BC
Information & Safety
Free roaming wild horses have been a part of Okanagan BC wildlife for as long as many people here can recall.
They can also be called feral horses - free-roaming horses and descendents of once-tame animals; they have run free for generations.
Most horses that seem wild today are actually feral horses, descendants of horses that were imported to North America from Spain in the sixteenth century.
Wild horses in the Okanagan Valley are mostly found around the South Okanagan, near Oliver BC, Penticton, and Westbank (Westside Kelowna), you may see these gentle animals running in fields, along hillsides as well in some rural and rural-residential areas.
Interesting Wild Horse Facts
Feral horses generally gather in groups of 3 to 20 animals. A stallion, or a mature male, is the leader of the group and is responsible for protection. He follows behind the others and alerts them to any danger.
Young male horses become colts at around two years of age and at that time the stallion drives them away from the herd. They run with other colts and establish a herd of their own.
Horses belong to the Equus family, which comes from the ancient Greek word meaning 'quickness'.
Horses are mammals, in the same family as zebras, mules and donkeys, and all horses are grazers.
They love to eat short, juicy grass, and hay or dried greass in the winter. Because they have small stomachs for their size and need to eat small amounts and more often - if in a field, horses will graze for most of the day.
The average life span for a horse is around 20 -25 years, although they can live for up to 30 years.
A normal pregnancy in a horse lasts approximately 11 months, or about 340 days. Foals are usually born in early spring, and can usually stand up withing a few hours of birth.
The eyes of a horse are larger than most other animals. They can see in color and their eyes move independently, giving the horse a shallow panoramic type of vision. Because the lenses of a horses eyes are inflexible, it will focus on an image by moving its head to direct light rays to the central part of the retina in it's eye.
Horses have five highly developed senses: taste, touch, hearing, smell, and sight. They also have a sixth sense of heightened perception, which is very rare in humans.
Any marking on a horse's head is called a star, even if it is not shaped like a star.
Horses can sleep both standing up and lying down.
Safety Tips Should You Encounter Feral Horses In The Okanagan
If you're out wildlife viewing, or happen to come across a group of wild horses be sure to keep in mind a few safety tips to protect yourself and the horse.
You'll quickly realize there are wild horses in areas you're travelling through by noticing their droppings alongside roads. These horses tend to stay in one area rather than migrate. They may be crossing roads anywhere, and likely will not be alone. Collisions can be detrimental to both humans and the animal.
Maintain a Safe Distance - Although at times these beautiful horses may appear to be docile, especially when they are just standing around or resting, remember that they are wild. Moving too close to them puts you at risk for being kicked or bitten.
Never Feed the Wild Horses
Protecting the instincts of these animals to find food is important to keep them in their natural habitat and away from roadways. Please, never feed feral horses, for their safety and yours.
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