Equine Anatomy Picture

Explore horse anatomy diagrams, charts and illustrations with these downloadable basic parts diagrams labeled with labels for easier understanding of their bodies.

Horse tendons serve a vital role, connecting muscles to bones. Their primary functions are shock absorption and energy transfer to muscles; tight or overstretched tendons can reduce power and decrease speed in horses.

Skeletal System

Most horses contain 205 bones in their bodies, divided into two subsystems: appendicular (limb) skeleton and axial skeleton (the skull, spinal column, sternum and ribs).

The skeletal system serves three distinct purposes: support, protection, and motion. It acts as a support framework for soft tissues in the body while safeguarding vital organs against mechanical injury.

Additionally, it contains a system of joints which facilitate movement while also reducing friction by secreting synovial fluid. Bones serve to store minerals while providing a site for red blood cell formation.

Horse skeletons contain numerous ligaments that serve various functions. One especially crucial ligament is the suspensory ligament of the fetlock, running from behind the cannon bone down through splint bone and sesamoid bones at the bottom of the fetlock to extensor tendons at its extensorsor tendons to support and prevent overextension that can lead to lameness.


Horses possess hundreds of muscles that work to enable the involuntary movement of their limbs as well as keeping their hearts beating and blood flowing smoothly. There are skeletal muscles attached to bones which pull on tendons while smooth muscle fibres designed to promote posture and fluidity of movement.

Certain muscles have broad surfaces at their origin and narrower ones at their insertion; one such example would be the Rhomboid muscle. Massage these types of muscles using your finger tips by simply following their outline.

Other muscles have narrow surfaces at their insertion points and may be harder to massage because you can only see its outline. This is particularly true of long back muscles which act as support for spinal vertebrae; when tight or shortened they often lead to health problems in horses.


Horse bones are held together by ligaments and tendons, creating the skeleton. Muscles then act upon this framework as they contract against it. Bones are cushioned by a tough membrane known as the periosteum which cushions them as well as providing cushioned cushioning in joints using synovial fluid lubricant.

Flat bones can be found in the skull and pelvis while long bones reside in limbs. Flat bones develop by intramembranous ossification while long bones develop via endochondral ossification.

Humans experiencing puberty also show a reduction in longitudinal growth of their appendicular skeleton (limb length), with more subtle appositional bone growth in their axial skeleton, likely in response to any slight discrepancies between final wither height and body weight. This explains the moderate accumulation of bone at proximal end of femoral shaft and at lateral trochanter which likely represents muscle origin for superficial digital flexor muscles.


Tendons and ligaments are fibrous structures that connect muscles to bones, stabilize joints, support organs and assist movement in the body. Tendons store energy during movement before releasing it again during movement. Ligaments possess greater stretch-stretch flexibility compared to tendons; like cords they form around muscles, joints and bones. Due to their unique construction and poor blood supply, ligament injuries typically take a longer time for recovery than most injuries do.

Tendons and ligaments can both become injured when exercising on hard surfaces, including treadmills. Acute injuries include sprains, strains and contusions while overuse injuries often arise from repeated exercise without enough time for recovery between sessions.

The inferior check ligament extends along the back of the cannon bone and connects with the deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT). An injury to this ligament often results in swelling, as well as some degree of lameness.


Tendons are tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect muscles to bones. Able to stretch and recoil with every movement your horse makes, they provide energy saving structures. Ligaments connect bones together without stretching as much and provide essential stabilization of joints.

Most tendons have poor blood supply and thus can become vulnerable to injury through either sudden impacts such as falls or by repeating high-stress activities such as jumping.

The flexor tendons of the foot are composed of two main tendons, known as deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) and superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT), that run down from knee/hock region through pastern and fetlock area and enclosed in fluid filled sheaths known as digital sheaths. Tendon injuries commonly seen among horses engaged in strenuous exercise can damage these tendons due to increased load which tears collagen fibres away, causing inflammation which manifests itself through heat and pain during palpation.


Horse legs require various angles in order to function optimally, with incorrect angles leading to bowed tendons or soft tissue injuries if they aren’t set at just the right angles. Ultrasound technology provides accurate measurements for these angles that must be observed closely for correct functioning.

Joints are spaces which enable movement of bones through fibrous capsules and are filled with synovial fluid (SF). SF bathes the joints and tendons with lubrication and growth factors provided by glycosaminoglycans produced by synovial membrane cells – especially hyaluronic acid – secreted into it from glycosaminoglycan secretions by synovial membrane cells, typically yellow to creamy-hazy with decreased viscosity, sometimes flocculent cells with low numbers of nucleated cell nucleated cell nucleated cell populations present.

The distal forelimb comprises seven hinge joints: elbow, carpometacarpal (MCP), metacarpometacarpal (MCP), proximal interphalangeal (IP), and distal interphalangeal (PI) joints. Flexors and extenders cross over to cross the carpus; this computer model illustrates their pathways, origins, via points, insertions and contributions to muscle moment-angle curves during isometric contractions.






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