Labeled Horse Skeletal Diagram

Whether used as a reference for students, teachers or veterinarians this labeled horse skeleton diagram is an excellent way to understand the anatomy of the animal. The image includes the entire skeleton and some of the major muscles and bones that comprise the horse.

The skeletal system in horses is made up of about 205 bones. They vary in shape and size from those of other mammals. The bones are held together by ligaments and tendons which give them their mobility and support. The horse is known for its rapid locomotion and the speed at which it runs. This is partly due to the arrangement of the muscles which is adapted to this purpose. The muscles are made up of striated muscle which can be voluntarily controlled by the horse.

As with other mammalian limbs the horse’s forelimbs have four complete digits, but unlike those of the dog or cat the horse bears its weight on the equivalent of digit 3 (the dew claw is digit 1). The distal front limb consists of two metacarpals (palm bones), two carpometacarpals and the phalanges of the three toes. The first phalange is called the long pastern, the second phalange the short pastern and the third phalange the pedal bone which is encased in the hoof. The phalanges are connected by tendons and ligaments which allow movement and provide structure to the hoof.

The horse’s ribs are arranged into eighteen pairs. They are bandlike and curved, the body of the bone being wider at its middle and narrower at its ends. The cranial surface of the rib is a triangular area and has a scapular spine which forms a shoulder joint with the humerus. The humerus is the largest of the bone’s ends and a great shock absorber.

The five sacral vertebrae in a horse are triangular with a base and an apex. The ilium bone of the pelvic girdle is oblique and triangular with two surfaces, two borders and a deep acetabular cavity. The femur is the longest and most massive bone in the horse’s leg. It extends obliquely both cranially and distally and articulates with the acetabulum, tibia and patella.

The proximal row of carpal bones in the horse is composed of six-sided, compressed bones. The ulnar carpal is more wedge-shaped than the radial carpal and is slightly wider dorsally than palmar. The accessory carpal is similar to the ulnar carpal and locates palmar to it. The metacarpals are arranged in two rows and have the same characteristics as those of other mammals.