Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Handbook of Nature Study #67: The Horse

I had noticed that one of the Outdoor Hour's nature studies at The Handbook of Nature Study blog was horses, so when I saw that a local stable was having a open house, I noted Barbara and Anna Comstock's suggestions.
"Begin this study of the horse with the stories of wild horses...
The Pacing Mustang in Wild Animals I Have Known is an excellent story to show the habits of herds of wild horses."
"After the interest has been thus aroused the following observations may be suggested, a few at a time...in the stable...
" Look at the mouth and nose. Are the nostrils large and flaring? Are the lips thick or thin?"
"...in the wild stage scent was one of the horse's chief aids in detecting the enemy..."
"What is the color of the horse's eyes? The shape of the pupil?"
"The eyes are placed so that the horse can see in front, at the side and behind..."
"What is the nature of the horse's coat in summer? What is the use of the horse's mane, forelock and tail?"
"The length of neck and head are necessary in order that an animal with such length of leg as the horse may be able to graze."
We watched them shake their manes and eat hay.
We saw all different kinds of horses.
We even fed some of them (and made a friend in the process.)
We took a ride on one.
There was even a pony so we could compare the two.
Besides the technical fact that ponies are less than 14 hands high, we could see that they have
 thicker manes
thicker tails
heavier coat
 shorter legs
wider barrels
thicker necks
shorter heads
There was even a donkey and some goats there.
The donkey compared to the pony and horse...
 ears are  longer
back straighter
neck is either straighter or shorter (some debate there)
thicker fur 

And then we colored pictures of horses and talked about the parts of a horse.

By the way, all this talk about horses and ponies reminded us of  three summers ago when we went to Assateague to see the feral ponies living there.

Two separate herds of ponies live on Assateague Island, separated by a fence that runs down the Maryland-Virginia state border. Though descended from the same original stock, the Maryland feral ponies are called "Assateague horses" and are maintained by the National Park Service and the Virginia feral ponies are called "Chincoteague ponies" and are owned by Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department.

The legend is that a Spanish Galleon wrecked off of Assateague Island and the surviving ponies swam to the island. However, there is little evidence supporting this theory, and the more likely origin of the ponies is that early 17th century colonists let their animals loose on the island to avoid fencing laws and livestock taxes. This is a good story about them.

Katie and Alex also are very familiar with horses and ponies from horse back riding, where they learned horse care from grooming to giving them a bath.

Alex grooming horses with Ms Elizabeth


  1. That donkey is toooo cute : )
    Horses are such amazing animals, It was great seeing the excitment in your childrens faces when they were petting & riding them. Having two horses I some times forget just how special they are.
    Best Wishes,

  2. Jealous you got to go to Asseteague Island. When I went there in high school it was Pony Penning and we didn't get to go to the other island.

    Great study, we did a similar study last fall or spring and the kids loved it.

  3. What a great study! Assateague Island is one of our all time favorite places to visit and also one of the scariest nights that we've ever spent in a tent thanks to the horses! :) Maybe one day I'll share that story. LOL And to think we went there just because we read Misty of Chincoteague!

    Your kids did a great job on their pictures. Very nice.

  4. Phyllis,

    You are so very welcome and I appreciate you taking the time to thank me for the challenge. :)

    I love that you were able to seize the opportunity to visit the horses and have such a great experience up close. Your photos are a wonderful journal of you time and I loved seeing them all.

    Thanks again for sharing your links and for supporting other families with your personal comments on their entries...I notice these things. :)

  5. Great study of horses! We live near the wild ponies and often visit them:)


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