National Day of the Horse | December 13
(Last Updated On: December 7, 2022)


National Day of the Horse on December 13th encourages people of the United States to be mindful of the contribution of horses to the economy, history, and character of the United States.


The domesticated horse we know today, also known as Equus caballus, was introduced into North America by Spanish explorers. Escaped horses eventually spread across the American Great Plains.

Interestingly, there is a debate about the origin of E. caballus. Recent mitochondrial studies of an ancient horse called Equus lamei suggest that it is equivalent to the modern, domesticated horse. E. lamei once populated North America and died out more than 11,000 years ago. This could mean that E. caballus is technically a native species, and its evolutionary origin is North America.

The North American Horse

Aside from the anthropological debate, the horse has contributed significantly to the advancement of civilization in North America. Not only did the horse serve as vital transportation, but they cleared forests for farmland. They led the way westward and into battle, too. Horses diversified Native American hunting habits and defined the western cowboy.

When is National Horse Protection Day?

In North America, the legendary horse is embedded in our culture and runs deep into the roots of our history. As the country grew, our indebtedness to the horse grew, too. While few people see the horse as much more than a recreational animal today, they still serve on working ranches. As a therapy animal, horses relieve the symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and other disorders. Long past their age as a plow horse or part of the cavalry, they continue connecting to humans, and we continue to rely on them. 


Celebrate the horse and its contributions to North America. Explore their history and learn more about how the horse continues to play a vital role in North America today.

  • Read your favorite books about horses. Some of those might include National Velvet by Enid Bagnold or The Red Pony by John Steinbeck.
  • For a more historical perspective, pick up The Horse: A Natural History by Catrin Rutland and Debbie Busby or The Horse in Human History by Pita Kelekna.
  • You can also explore the horse in documentaries. I directed by Phillip Baribeau follows four friends as they make an epic trip with 16 mustangs from Mexico to Canada.
  • The two-part documentary Equus: Story of the Horse directed by Gabit Baimbetov, Pavel Tarasov, and Niobe Thompson follows the origins of horses around the world.

Use #NationalDayoftheHorse to post on social media.


On November 18, 2004, United States Senate Resolution 452 recognized December 13th as the National Day of the Horse.

Horse FAQ

Q. How many bones does a horse have?
A. Most horses have 205 bones in their body including 54 bones in their spinal column. Compare that to the 206 bones in the human body and the 33 bones we are born within the spinal column.

Q. What was the first horse?
A. The earliest recorded member of the horse family is named Eohippus. The small ungulate lived 55 million years ago and stood only 10-17 inches tall.

Q. Is the horse related to the hippopotamus?
A. No. Despite the name Eohippus, the horse is not related to the hippopotamus. It is, however, related to zebras, donkeys, and onagers, among others.


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