Equine Anatomy and Physiology Quiz

Equines have many specialised cells that work together to maintain normal biological performance. What are five body fluids essential for keeping their bodies balanced?

What could be the likely source of depressions in their shoulder region?

Musculoskeletal System

The Musculoskeletal System comprises the bones and contractile and noncontractile soft tissues such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, joint capsules, and articular cartilage of an individual’s bony skeleton along with contractile and noncontractile soft tissues such as muscles tendons ligaments joint capsules cartilage that allows individuals to move through space freely while also absorbing shock, converting reactive forces to kinetic energy, performing fine-motor tasks as well as housing vital organs and the central nervous system within its bony skeleton provides housing and protection.

Adult bodies contain 206 bones connected by ligaments and tendons to 600 muscles. The skeleton serves to both support body weight while also acting as a frame for muscles to attach onto and make movements possible. There are four categories of bones: long bones, short bones, flat bones and irregular bones; these joints can either be fixed (nonmovable), slightly movable or freely movable depending on circumstances.

When the nervous system triggers muscle fibers to contract or tighten up, they exert their force through tendons attached to bones in our skeletal system, moving bones as a result allowing us to stand, sit, walk and run freely. Conversely, when sent signals for relaxation of these tension-ridden muscle groups they release tension back down to their resting state and return back into relaxation mode.

Cardiovascular System

Horse hearts and blood vessels are an intricate system, capable of transporting water, oxygen, carbon dioxide, fuel for energy production as well as electrolytes, hormones and other chemicals to and from its cells in its body. A well-designed cardiovascular system is essential in enabling horses to exercise at their utmost potential; one reason why they make such impressive natural athletes.

The horse heart is a conical organ with a broad base at the top, from which large blood vessels enter and exit, and an apex that lies near to its sternum. An unusual characteristic of an equine heart is that it contains cardiac muscle (myocardium) to pump blood out, along with electrical cells known as pacemaker cells that help set pacemaker beats to coordinate heartbeats.

Blood is a complex fluid composed of red blood cells that carry oxygen to cells throughout the body; white blood cells which help fight infection; and water component that delivers nutrients and oxygen directly to body tissues. Disorders in this area may impede horse performance by decreasing oxygen delivery to working muscles; murmurs are short high-pitched sounds heard within major blood vessels due to turbulent flow or mechanical issues like valve problems.

Respiratory System

The respiratory system provides oxygen into the body, removes carbon dioxide from it and manages body temperature. Every cell in our bodies requires oxygen in order to function and produce energy – therefore ensuring an effective functioning respiratory system is fundamental for optimal health, wellbeing and performance.

Horses are obligate nasal breathers; this means they cannot use their mouths as people do to breathe. Their upper respiratory system begins in their nostrils; each nostril features an epiglottis to separate mouth and nasal cavity completely, as well as coils of bone called turbinates which partially warm and humidify air as it enters, as well as filter out debris.

Air then travels through the trachea, an oval tube composed of 50-60 rings of cartilage that prevent its collapse when subjected to negative pressure, when horses breathe in. From here it enters their lungs located within their rib-cage; horses possess two large lobes which together comprise 90% of their lung capacity.

The lungs provide oxygen to the blood, distribute it throughout the body, collect carbon dioxide from exhaled breath and filter clots or bubbles from blood flow; they help control body temperature and whole-body acid-base balance by filtering out clots before they lodge in coronary arteries or brain tissue.

Nervous System

A horse has an advanced nervous system. Their brain is protected by their skull while their spinal cord travels down their spine (see my blog about The Horse’s Skeleton for more info). Both delicate structures are cushioned by bony vertebrae and enveloped by clear cerebrospinal fluid; together this organ unifies information from every part of their body to regulate and control them all.

When horses detect an unpleasant stimulus such as being pinched under their knee, this sends a message up from their foot through their skeleton to their spinal cord and ultimately to their quadriceps muscles, telling them to flex the leg so as to protect their knee from further straining and harm. In doing so, damage is avoided to ensure their knee does not become compromised from further pulling upward.

Smell is another essential sense that helps horses find water, select food and communicate with other horses – for instance stallions can recognise mares by the scent of their breath, leaving a message behind in dung piles to signal their reproductive status.

The cardiovascular system provides oxygen to cells and tissues, transports nutrient-rich blood from the intestines directly to them and removes carbon dioxide waste, metabolic by-products and hormones produced from cells and tissues. Furthermore, it regulates heart rate, blood pressure and rhythm while transporting substances that help balance acidity levels within stomach and intestines, and delivers insulin.

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