Mary Burger Is The Barrel Racing Champion Grandma
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Mary Burger is not your average grandmother. Burger was born in 1948, and began barrel racing in 1984. Barrel racing is a rodeo event during which participants ride horses around barrels in a cloverleaf pattern. The winner is the rider that can complete the course in the fastest time. Even though participants in the sport are typically younger men, Mary Burger has won world championships for barrel racing. In the first half of 2016, she earned more than $100,000 in prize money. Burger credits her horse, Mo, for her continued success in the sport. Burger has told the Global News, "You know, several years back I used to think, 'Well, I've got a little age on me.' But I've had so many people come up and say 'you're my inspiration.' When I hear the crowd go, I just get goosebumps all over, and I'm really, really proud." We've collected some awesome videos on this topic. Watch them now to learn more.
When Humans Race Horses in a Marathon, Who Wins?
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Leave it up to a couple of barflies to come up with an event as baffling as the Man v. Horse Marathon. The idea was hatched in the back bar of the Neuadd Arms Hotel in Llanwrtyd Wells, where the owner overheard his patrons' fervent discussion about whether a man could beat a horse in a distance challenge, and decided to put it to the test. The mountainous 22-24-mile event has taken place every year since 1980, and whereas you might expect the horses to beat the humans without contest, that hasn't always been the case. Human runner Huw Lobb beat the lead horse for the first time in 2004, and Florian Holzinger repeated Lobb's achievement in 2007. The reason the competition is so close comes down to evolution. Many scientists believe we evolved to be persistent hunters that chased animals across the savanna until they collapsed. Our ability to lose heat through sweat is just one adaptation that gives us a leg up on horses and other quadrupeds, who pant to expel heat but have trouble doing so at top speeds. That's likely the reason humans have been able to win: those victories took place on hot days.
Horses Can Read Human Emotions
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In a 2016 study of 28 horses, researchers found that horses could differentiate between angry (negative) and happy (positive) emotions in humans. When presented with a high-quality photograph of an angry person, a horse's heart rate would go up, and it would tend to look at the photo out of its left eye. This "left-gaze" bias has also been observed in dogs. Scientists believe that this response happens because the right hemisphere of the brain is thought to process threatening stimuli. (Input from the left eye is analyzed in that hemisphere.)
from National Geographic
Key Facts to Know
Equine therapy has proven helpful to several veterans who suffer from the mental aftereffects of war. 0:12
Equine therapy doesn't always entail horseback riding—it's a mode of therapy that involves any kind of work with horses. 1:26
Horses have exhibited an ability to read human emotion, both in facial expressions and in body language. 3:19
Meet Staff Sergeant Reckless, The Marine Mare
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A small Mongolian mare was bought from a Seoul thoroughbred track in 1952 by the U.S. Marines. Little did anyone know, Reckless the mare would become a legendary icon of American war heroism. Reckless was purchased to help a particular Marines unit haul heavy guns and artillery over Korea's rugged terrain. She was then thoroughly trained to carry artillery, duck for cover, withstand the noise of firing rifles, get on and off trailers, and more. In only one day of battle, Reckless made 51 trips carrying almost 5 tons of ammunition total, covering more than 35 miles (56.3 km). Reckless was promoted to sergeant in 1954, an honor never bestowed-before or since-on an animal. She gained staff sergeant status at the end of the Korean War, and by the end of her military career, she had received two Purple Hearts.
A Horse Hoof Is One Big Toe
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Horses "lost" their side toes over millions of years, and ended up with just one toe per foot—the middle, or third, one. During embryonic development, a horse's second and fourth vestigial toes form splint bones that fuse to the back of their leg bone. The first and fifth toes don't form at all. Scientists theorize that horses and other ungulates evolved to have fewer digits so that they could run fast over long distances.
Key Facts to Know
Humans are plantigrade animals, which means that all of the bones on our feet touch the ground when we walk. 0:16
Digitigrade animals have an elongated heel bone. 1:06
Ungulates save energy by running on just the tips of their fingers and toes. 1:44