I know that Harley's heart if big. He tries his heart out every time we ride together. He keeps me safe on trail rides. He trusts me for unpleasantries, like vet or dental visits, and he is gentle with small children, like the barn owner's granddaughter. She can lower his head with the smallest tug on his halter and he remains statuesque as she kisses the velvet spot on his nose. I have accidentally gotten my fingers in his mouth while feeding treats a little too carelessly, but he always manages to notice and not chomp down. Thank goodness!
You know the expression "quality over quantity"? Well, when it comes to hearts, horses have both. Besides housing one large heart, horses also have many hearts. Hoof enthusiasts will know where I am going with this one. Here are some pictures of Harley's hearts:
|Left hind "heart": Proper circulation and pumping of blood against gravity relies on these flexible structures and the vascular tissue within.|
|Right hind "heart": The hind hearts are my favorite.|
|Left front "heart": These hearts can only work with lots of movement on supportive surfaces.|
|Right front "heart": The heart-shaped frogs within each hoof-heart must make ground contact in order for circulation to be optimum. This also promotes healthy frog-hearts, which are looking a little shabby here. Too much soggy weather lately.|
And let's not forget the biggest heart!
|My vet taught me to listen for Harley's heartbeat by placing the stethoscope where the girth rests low on his rib cage. The horse heart sounds like it pumps with strong, slow-motion compressions.|
So my horse has five hearts, one in each of his feet and one in his chest.
But I can find more. Each frog looks like a heart, so that brings us up to nine!
Wait a sec. What about the big heart "behind"?
|Although Harley's is not as heart-shaped as some, the horse's rump often looks like a big heart, here enrobed in blue.|
The hairs in my horse's coat change direction where his hindquarters meet his body. I always thought that this looked like a heart at his flanks. The two lobes of the heart have to be brushed like individual arches or the hair does not lay flat and smooth. Sometimes Harley gets ticklish on his right flank if I am not careful to brush with the hairs.
How is my count doing? His rump is one from the back and two from the sides, so that makes three more. Combined with the original nine, we are up to twelve hearts!
I think that I can find one more...
|There it is! The velvet heart.|
Well, you've heard it here first, folks.
Horses have not one, not five, but thirteen hearts!
Even though I am a science teacher, you do not have to take my word for it. The proof is in the ponies.
Happy Valentine's Day!