Sources : Horse

Aristotle [ca. 350 BCE] (De animalibus Book 9, 1.7): The anthus is the enemy of the horse, for it drives the horse from its pasture, for the anthus also feeds on grass; it is dim-sighted and not quick; it imitates the voice of the horse, which it frightens by flying at it, and drives it from its pasture; if the horse can seize upon it, he will kill it. - [Cresswell translation, 1887]

Herodotus [c. 484 – c. 425 BCE] (Histories, Book 1.80) Assembling all the camels that followed his army bearing food and baggage, he took off their burdens and set men upon them equipped like cavalrymen; having so equipped them he ordered them to advance before his army against Croesus' horse; he charged the infantry to follow the camels, and set all his horse behind the infantry. ... The reason of his posting the camels to face the cavalry was this: horses fear camels and can endure neither the sight nor the smell of them; this then was the intent of his device, that Croesus' cavalry, on which the Lydian relied for the winning of some glory, might be of no use. So when battle was joined, as soon as the horses smelt and saw the camels they turned to flight, and all Croesus' hope was lost. - [Godley translation]

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 8, 64-68): [Book 8, 64] The Sybarite horses also know beforehand when there is going to be a battle, and when they lose their masters mourn for them: sometimes they shed tears at the bereavement. [Book 8, 65] Some horses live fifty vears, but mares live a shorter time; mares stop growing when five years old, the varieties of males a year later. The appearance of the horse that ought to be most preferred has been very beautifuUy described in the poetry of Virgil, but we also have dealt with it in our book on the Use of the Javelin by Cavalry, and I observe that there is almost universal agreement about it. [Book 8, 66] Gestation in this genus lasts eleven months and the foal is born in the twelfth month. Breeding takes place as a rule in the spring equinox when both animals are two-year-olds, but the progeny is stronger if breeding begins at three. A stallion goes on serving to the age of 33, as they are sent from the race-course to the stud at 20. It is recorded that a stallion at Opus even continued to 40, only he needed assistance in lifting his fore-quarters. But few animals are such unfertile sires as the horse; consequently intervals are allowed in breeding, and nevertheless a stallion cannot stand serving fifteen times in the same year. Mares in heat are cooled down by having their manes shorn; they foal yearly up to 40. It is stated that a mare has lived to 75. In the equine genus the pregnant female is dehvered standing up; and she loves her oflspring more than all other female animals. And in fact a love-poison called horse-frenzy [veneficium hippomanes] is found in the forehead of horses at birth, the size of a dried fig, black in colour, which a brood mare as soon as she has dropped her foal eats up, or else she refuses to suckle the foal. If anybody takes it before she gets it, and keeps it, the scent drives him into madness of the kind specified. If a foal loses its dam the other brood mares in the same herd rear the orphan. It is said that a foal is unable to reach the ground with its mouth within the first three days after birth. The greedier it is in drinking the deeper it dips its nostrils into the water. The Scythians prefer mares as chargers, because they can make water without checking their gallop. [Book 8, 68] It is known that in Lusitania in the neighbourhood of the town of Lisbon and the river Tagus mares when a west wind is blowing stand facing towards it and conceive the breath of life and that this produces a foal, and this is the way to breed a very swift colt, but it does not Hve more than three years. - [Rackham translation]

Augustine [5th century CE] (City of God, Book 21, 5): In Cappadocia the mares are impregnated by the wind, and their foals live only three years.

Aelianus [170-230 CE] (On the Characteristics of Animals, Book 2, 10; 3, 17): [Book 2, 10*] The horse is generally speaking a proud creature, the reason being that his size, his speed, his tall neck, the suppleness of his limbs, and the clang of his hooves make him insolent and vain. But it is chiefly a mare with a long mane that is so full of airs and graces. For instance, she scorns to be covered by an ass, but is glad to mate with a horse, regarding herself as only fit for the greatest of her kind. Accordingly those who wish to have mules born, knowing this characteristic, clip the mare's mane in a haphazard fashion anyhow, and then put asses to her. Though ashamed at first, she admits her present ignoble mate. [Book 3, 17] The mare also knows that with the birth of a foal she is producing love-spells; and that is why the moment the foal is born, the mare bites off the piece of flesh on its forehead. Men call it "mare's-frenzy". And wizards maintain that such things produce and excite impulses to unrestrained sexual intercourse and a lecherous passion. - [Scholfield translation]

Gaius Julius Solinus [3rd century CE] (De mirabilibus mundi / Polyhistor, Chapter 45.6-7; 45.18): [Chapter 45.6] Many examples have revealed that horses possess discernment, since several have been found which would recognise only their first masters. If ever they changed their accustomed master, they became forgetful of their tameness. So well do horses know those inimical to their side that in battle they attack and bite their enemies. [Chapter 45.7] But this is a greater thing: when horses have lost riders whom they held dear, they bring death upon themselves by starvation. These characteristics are to be found in the most outstanding type of horse, for those who are of inferior breeding have given no accounts of themselves. [Chapter 45.18] The fiercer and braver a horse is, the deeper he will plunge his nostrils into water when drinking. Male horses are never taken to the wars by the Scythians, because the females can empty their bladders in flight. Mares bring forth offspring sired by the wind, but they never live longer than three years. - [Arwen Apps translation, 2011]

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 1:41-47; 12, 1.56): [Book 12, 1.41] Horses [equus] are so called because when they were yoked in a team of four they were balanced [aequare]; those equal in size and alike in gait would be joined together. [Book 12, 1.42] The packhorse [caballus] was formerly called a cabo, because when walking it hollows [concavare] the ground with the imprint of its hoof, a property that the other animals do not have. Whence also the ‘charger’ [sonipes] because it ‘clatters with its feet’ [pedibus sonare]. [Book 12, 1.43] Horses have a great deal of liveliness, for they revel in open country; they scent out war; they are roused to battle by the sound of the trumpet; when incited by a voice they are challenged to race, grieving when they are defeated, and exultant when they are victorious. Some recognize the enemy in war and seek to bite the foe. Some also respond to their own masters, and lose their tameness if their ownership changes. Some will allow no one on their back except their master; many of them shed tears when their master dies or is killed, for only the horse weeps and feels grief over humans. Also in the Centaur the nature of horses and of humans is combined. [Book 12, 1.44] People who are about to engage in battle are accustomed to deduce what the outcome will be from the dejection or the eagerness of the horses. [Book 12, 1.45] In well-bred horses, so the ancients said, four things were considered: form, beauty, quality, and color. Form, that the body should be strong and solid, the height appropriate to the strength, the flank long, very lean, with well-rounded haunches, broad in the chest, the entire body knotted with dense musculature, the foot firm and solid with a concave hoof. [Book 12, 1.46] Beauty, that the head should be small and firm, the skin clinging close to the bones, the ears short and expressive, the eyes large, the nostrils flaring out, the neck upright, the mane and tail thick, the hooves of a firm roundness and solidity. [Book 12, 1.47] Quality, that it should be daring in spirit, swift of foot, with quivering limbs, which is a sign of strength, and easily roused from the deepest repose and controlled without difficulty when urged to speed. Indeed, the alertness of a horse is made known by its ears, and its valor by its quivering limbs. [Book 12, 1.56] There are three kinds of horses: one well-bred, suited for battles and riders; the second common and ordinary, suited for draft work, not for riding; the third originating from a mixture of different species, which is called hybrid [bigener], because it is born from different species, like the mule. - [Barney, Lewis, et. al. translation]

Thomas of Cantimpré [circa 1200-1272 CE] (Liber de natura rerum, Quadrupeds 4.34): Horses, as Solinus says, are bred in almost all parts of the world; but those are especially good who are born in Scythia and Cappadocia. Among the horses, the one who is more active and more hopeful, sinks his nose deeper in drinking. Horses usually know the enemies of their party in battle. They rejoice at the sound of the bugle, and they boast in their gatherings. The lust of the horses is extinguished by shearing the mane. ... And horses in Scythia give birth to foals conceived by the winds; but these never live beyond three years. A mare is understood to be barren, if she does not conceive at the first copulation. But whatever is birthed by her before the completion of three years is weak; whatever after, stronger and better, until the age of twenty. A male mates until his thirtieth year, and a mare until forty years. A male lives up to 35 years, and a mare up to 40 years. They say that a horse once lived up to 70 years. In noble horses, as the ancients say, as Isidore says, four things are considered: form, beauty, merit, and color. The shape is such that the body is strong and solid, the height suitable for strength, the sides long, the hips well rounded, the whole body densely knotted with muscles, the foot dry and the horn solidified. Beauty is to have a small and dry head, the skin close to the bones, the ears short and pointed, the eyes large, the nose wide, the neck erect, the hair thick and the tail firm and rounded. It should be altogether bold, swift of foot, trembling of limb, which is an indication of courage. As the Experimentator says, Spanish and French horses have a shorter life; but Persian, Pyrian, Sicilian, and Dacian horses live longer. There are three kinds of horses: one of them is for war, another is fit for carriage and riding, and another is fit for ploughing. For the horse is the only one beyond man to weep and to feel the emotion of pain, says Isidore. And they are wont to infer from the horses, either by their meddling, or their eagerness, that they will fight in the future. As for those who were not of this nobility, they presented no evidence of their goodness. The horse, the cow, and the deer are the only animals that have cartilaginous bones in their hearts, and this because of their size, so that the heart is supported by the bones themselves, as it is in the other members. But the mouth of a deer is medicinal, but not of a horse or a cow. There is so much pity in female horses that if one of them dies in the herd, another mare associated with her will nurse the dead horse's offspring. When a horse is born, a small caruncle is seen on the forehead, and it is most effective against poison, because it immediately extinguishes the poison. But the mother mare destroys it by licking it immediately after giving birth. Horses naturally love their appearance more than other beasts. - [Badke translation/paraphrase]