Horsing Around

February 18, 2011 at 12:12 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

As I’ve mentioned, much of my weekend time lately has been spent at the Field Museum doing various volunteer activities.  Last weekend was no different and my happy butt was sitting in a lecture hall at 9am on Saturday morning.  Which meant I woke up around 7:15.  If you know me, you know I like my weekend sleep so I’m obviously pretty committed.  And while it wasn’t exactly easy to get my body out of bed that early, in the end it was totally worth it.

The 7 hour lecture Sunday was all about the new exhibit that opened this week, The Horse.  I learned about the physiology, evolution, breeding and domestication of horses, as well as how they and humans have interacted over the years.  I won’t lie, I geeked out over a lot of it because I just thought it was so damn cool to be a part of.  I’m not even a huge horse lover (I’ve been thrown more than once and have accepted that I’m scared of riding them.  They’re big animals and they can sense my fear, so my feet are better left on the ground) but I do like to learn so it all worked out.  A few random facts for you:

  • The average horse produces about 50 pounds of manure every single day

    A sculpture made of driftwood at the end of the exhibit - please excuse the crappy phone quality, it looks much better in person

  • The only truly wild horses that still exist are in Mongolia
  • Horses evolved from having three toes to one hoof
  • The Sakha people in Siberia drink horse milk during solstice
  • Horses can be milked
  • Horses have been hunted by humans
  • The height of a horse is measured in hands – each hand is about 4 inches (the length of pinky to thumb when your hand is horizontal)
  • Horses have therapeutic purposes (I already knew this from a program I was involved in during college with at-risk kids and horses but didn’t realize just how often they’re utilized for such purposes)
  • People mount on the left because it was easier to maneuver swords back in the day

There was a lot more, trust me.

After the lecture, we were allowed to tour the actual exhibit.  That was especially cool since it wasn’t yet open to the public.  In fact, after I walked behind the black curtain a couple of girls my age followed me and some guard had to tell them to leave.  Yup, I kind of felt like a bad ass.  The exhibit featured dioramas of the evolution of horses, replicas of ancient cave paintings featuring them and displays of how horses have been utilized by humans through the ages.  They also discuss things like The Kentucky Derby (being a near-Louisvillian myself, this was extra cool).

This was the first traveling exhibit that’s come to the Field since I’ve been a docent and apparently every time a new one arrives there’s a training session much like the one I attended.  The next one is on Whales and after that…well, I think I have to keep that one a secret for now but it’s going to be awesome.  And yes, I’ll probably geek out over those too.  At this point, you should expect nothing less.


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