Pacing in ancestral horse as a show for predators


800px-043 Sævar frá Stangarholti

Equus caballus photo © Dagur Brynjólfsson


No wild equid has ever been recorded fleeing with a pacing gait, the normal gait at moderate speeds being the trot. However, the fact that certain breeds of the domestic horse can routinely pace suggests that the ancestral species used this relatively strenuous gait in anti-predator displays of individual fitness – much as ruminants use ‘style-trotting’ and ‘stotting’ to deflect predatory targeting to the weakest members of the population. This could be field-tested on the closely related Przewalski’s horse, recently reintroduced into the wild in areas still inhabited by the wolf.


Robin and the Honey Badger, 22 March 2016