The top of a horse’s head is known as the poll. It is where the horse’s mouth is located and includes the nostrils and jaw (or jowl). The poll is also where the browband attaches to. The crownpiece, also known as the headstall or headpiece, goes over the top of the poll and connects to the browband to keep the rest of the bridle in place. The cheekpieces run down the side of the face and connect to the bit rings.
The neck is the part of the body that extends from the poll to the back of the withers. The neck is an important part of a horse’s mobility and strength. A strong, healthy neck is essential for a horse to carry the weight of the rider and perform strenuous work. A neck that is short and weak is not suitable for riding.
A horse’s ears are flexible and can swivel to pick up sounds up front or behind. They are a key indicator of the horse’s emotional state and can help with communication and behavior. A whorl in an ear heightens hearing ability and may indicate the horse is thinking or listening intently. This type of ear might make the horse an excellent puzzle solver, but also can be over-thinking or over-analyzing.
Flanking whorls in the neck indicate the horse has a great deal of energy and may be prone to getting excited. These horses are fast learners and can think quickly on their feet. A horse with a high center whorl may be slower to learn, but can be a quick and powerful jumper.
The forearm of a horse’s front leg is the area from just below the shoulder to the knee. The forearm is a very important part of the front leg because it absorbs shock and distributes energy to help with flexion of the forelimbs. A forearm that is long and muscular can withstand much more pressure than a forearm that is slender or thin.
An ergot is a small, sometimes horn-like growth on the rear fetlock. These are a normal part of a horse’s anatomy and usually appear in adult horses. They can be a sign of illness in some horses, but this is not always the case. The fetlock is the joint that connects the cannon bone (front leg) to the barrel (back leg).
The dock at the end of a horse’s tail is made of a combination of muscle and hair. It helps stabilize the horse and can be used for directional control and to swat insects. It can be very thick and full or a very wispy, almost non-existent tuft of hair. It can even have coloration in the form of blazes or stars depending on the breed and discipline.