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Is Unicorn Just A Horse With A Single Horn On The Head?

We have probably watched enough movies, read a lot of books, found tons of images online and saw a lot of unicorns to come to the conclusion that unicorns sure look like horses. But is unicorn really a horse with a horn on his forehead? Well, let’s find out. In this post, I’ll answer your question and also show you what may or may not make them the same.

Is A Unicorn A Horse With A Horn?


The short answer is no, unicorns aren’t horses with a horn on the head. Unicorns are often portrayed to have a mix of horse-like, goat-like, and/or even lion-like characteristics. They usually have a horse-like shape and a horse-like head but have cloven hooves like that of a goat. They may have a goat’s beard or a lion’s mane too. And the tail is more lion-like than horse-like. 

Even though unicorns look exactly like horses with just a few differences, they are still animals of their own species. Just the same way we have dogs and foxes looking alike with some differences, that’s the same way we have horse and unicorns

What Is A Unicorn?

The unicorn is a beautiful legendary creature that has been described since antiquity as an animal with one straight horn projecting from its forehead. In European folklore, the unicorn is often depicted as a white horse-like animal with a single horn and cloven hooves (sometimes a goat’s beard)

At first glance, it might be a horse with wavy mane and swishing tail – but then you notice the long, twisted horn protruding from its forehead you will see that it’s really not a horse. Looking at this gorgeous animal more closely, you will see that its feet are mostly unlike the horses’ hooves, they are cloven into digits almost like the that of a deer. In other words, the unicorn is an artiodactyl (having an even number of toes or digits on each foot), not a perissodactyl (having an uneven number of toes or digits on each foot) like a horse.

Of course, the traditional account of the unicorn is based on a distorted description of the Indian rhinoceros, which is, like the horse, a perissodactyl. But in any case, unicorns have multiple hoofed toes on each foot, rather than one, and their tails resemble those of zebras or donkeys more than those of horses. It may also have the head of a horse, except that the head has a single horn projecting from the forehead and the beard of a goat. Its diet is not generally dwelt on in detail, but it is presumably like that of the deer and goats. It is a ruminant and chewing the cud animal, again unlike the horses.

What Is A Horse?

A horse, on the other hand, is a large, hoofed, four-legged animal, a long nose and tail, and a mane of hair along its upper back. It is a herbivorous mammal of the family Equidae. It comprises a single species, Equus caballus, whose numerous varieties are called breeds. Horses are strong and social animals that live together in herds or separately with their owners. All members of the horse family have just one toe (which is a hoof) on each foot. This is why they are called odd-toed animals.


They have slim legs and can run quite fast. Their coat is short and they have longer hair on the mane and tail. The ones that stay in the wild life in the open country and feed on grasses and other plants. The male horses (stallion) do well to defend themselves, the female horses (mares) and their territories from attackers.

What Is The Difference Between A Horse And A Unicorn?

While unicorns and horses are both equine (resembling a horse), there are some differences that set them apart. They include:

  • Unicorns are an embodiment of purity, of that which is incorruptible and also pure. Horses do not come close even though they are used today as symbols of purity.
  • A unicorn is a creature that has a single horn in the middle of its forehead. Hence the prefix ‘uni’ which means single or one, this case one horn. A horse, on the other hand, has no horn.
  • Unicorns are magical. They have supernatural abilities according to folklore. Their horns, their hair, their blood and almost everything has been shown to have extraordinary powers in most myths. The horse, on the other hand, is just…..well, a horse.
  • The original Greek Monoceros was a rhino-like animal: big, ferocious, aggressive, and capable of destroying a body of armed men. But the horse is just a horse with no special species.
  • While unicorns are majestic, powerful and magical, it’d be too dangerous to work around them. Unlike horses that are also man’s best friend and can be used for a lot of things like riding, hunting and all that.
  • Some unicorns have a goat’s beard and cloven hooves. Some have a lion’s mane and tail. Horses do not have much resemblance with other animals.
  • To ride a unicorn, you have to be either pure, be a girl/maiden, or believe in them. But a horse is open to pretty much everyone as long as you are good with the reigns and all that.
  • In later myths, unicorns are extremely swift and cunning, also capable of out speeding the fastest horse and outwitting most hunters. You may not find these traits in horses.
  • Unicorns usually have a solid colour, sparkly and with no spots. But some horses have spots and even those with solid colours have streaks of random colours on their coat. And no, they aren’t sparkly either.
  • The tears of a unicorn have the power to heal people. A horse rarely shed tears and if it does, nothing happens except having a wet streak down his nose.
  • They can be shy and elusive, but super brave when necessary. But a horse is a horse at all times. It is bold, confident and brave always.
  • Unicorns cannot be tamed but can be controlled by a maiden. For horses? Just understand how to hold them, a little more training and you are good to go with them.


Agreed, unicorns look just like horses, but they sure are not the same species. And there are a lot of reasons why they are not the same. Next time you see the images or video of a unicorn, look at the whole body again critically and spot the difference using some of the hints mentioned in this post.

So what do you think?