A horse’s anatomy is complex and requires careful care and attention. The body of a horse has several parts including the neck, forelimbs, hindquarters, tail and pelvis. Each part has different responsibilities but all work together to help the horse move, balance and carry its weight. If a horse has an anatomical problem, it may become unbalanced or injured. A horse’s body also has a skeletal structure which is made up of the bones that form it. The axial skeleton consists of the skull, vertebral column and ribs. The skull is made up of 37 fused bones and helps protect internal organs. The ribs are also formed from fused bones and insure that the internal organs don’t move too much. The appendicular skeleton includes the bones that form the forelimbs, hind legs and the hip joint. The muscles of the horse’s forelimbs include the brachiocephalicus, sternocephalicus and triceps brachii which help to move the head and neck. The biceps femoris and semitendinosus muscles facilitate the flexion of the forelimb. The rhomboideus, trapezius and latissimus dorsi muscle help to move the shoulder. The hip joints are moved by the iliotibial band, the semitendinosus and the biceps femoris muscles.
The hindquarters are the motor of a horse and they transfer power to propel it forward. A horse with strong hindquarters can move faster and is able to collect, or stretch, its stride. A horse’s croup should be oval-shaped and slope gently. A sloping croup is better than a flat one because it will distribute the horse’s weight more evenly over its entire back. A horse’s dock extends from the rear of its body below the croup and can be used to help balance the horse or as a tool for communication.
The hoof anatomy poster illustrates the lateral, palmar and dorsal views of the navicular region of the horse’s hoof. It also shows a radiograph of a navicular bone that has been remodelled. The poster compares this to a navicular bone that is healthy. It explains that the remodelled navicular bone is softer than the surrounding tissues. This makes it less likely to rupture or break off. The poster also outlines the various structures that fill the navicular bursa and discusses how these structures help prevent laminitis. It is important that a horse’s navicular bursa is filled with enough fluid to prevent infection and allow blood flow. This can be achieved by putting the horse on a dry bed, soaking the feet, applying poultices and using an equine hoof packing product such as a horse’s foot frog pad.