Horses are amazing animals, and we love learning more about them. Today, were taking a look at one of the most fascinating aspects of horse anatomy their bones!
And together with the brain and muscles, the joints between the bones are what allow horses and all other animals to move. The axial skeleton comprises the horses skull, vertebra, sternum and rib cage.
The appendicular skeleton consists of the legs more properly referred to as the fore and hind limbs. There, they help the horse to walk, and also provide storage for the minerals it needs for its bodily functions. Short bones are found in the joints, like the hock, fetlock and knee.
Ribs are a good example, curving to form a cage around the heart. But while the number may be similar, there are a whole lot of differences between a horses skeleton and a human beings. When the horse runs, its movement isnt restricted by the collarbone getting in the way of its shoulder blades.
And a more mobile shoulder blade gives the horse a longer stride, allowing it to run more efficiently. Thats perhaps not surprising when you consider how different horses heads are in size and shape to those of humans. Almost all the bones in an equine skull are fused together, providing a stable structure to protect the brain.
Instead, its a result of the soft palate which completely divides the horses mouth from its nasal passages. Unlike humans, whose eyes are positioned on the front of our faces, horses orbits are located on the sides. The only black spot if youre a horse is a tiny area directly in front of and behind your head.
Its also where part of the bridle passes over the horses head, and where a headcollar or halter will touch the skull. To enable free movement, the joint here usually has two small rows of three bones. It is suspended inside the hoof by the laminae, a delicate substance thats a bit like Velcro.
That leaves us with the truly astonishing fact that horses essentially walk on their middle fingers! These are found between the vertebra and in the horses knee, pastern, fetlock, hock and stifle. They are formed by the ends of two bones covered in a substance called articular cartilage.
This produces a lubricant, synovial fluid, which also helps to keep the joint working smoothly. The good news is that early diagnosis and treatment of acute arthritis can often cure the condition. Treatment may vary from a period of rest to injecting the affected joint with anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids.
And at the other end of the scale, the smallest bones in the equine skeleton are in the ears. But as a rule of thumb, you can expect the skeleton to account for about 40 percent of a horses total body weight. Sampson , a Shiregelding bred in Bedfordshire, holds the record for the worlds tallest and heaviest horse.
Do horses have more bones than humans?
Did you know that horse’s and humans on average only vary in total number of bones by 1? Horses average 205 bones and humans average 206. We have more bones when we are born, about 300 but some of these bones fuse together as we get older.
How many bones does a horse leg have?
40 bones in the front legs. 40 bones in the hind legs.
How many bones do pig have?
Prepared, real skeleton of an adult domestic pig consisting of approximately 223 individual bones, which are rigidly connected to each other.
How many bones are in a cat?
Musculo-Skeletal System. The cat’s skeleton is not so different from the human skeleton. The cat has more bones— 230 as opposed to 206—but many are identical to those in the human being. Cats have 13 ribs; humans have 12. Cats do have clavicles (collar bones) but unlike humans, they are not attached to other bones.
The skeletal system has three major functions in the body. It protects vital organs, provides framework, and supports soft parts of the body. Horses typically have 205 bones. The pelvic limb typically contains 19 bones, while the thoracic limb contains 20 bones.
Due to their relatively poor blood supply, ligament injuries generally take a long time to heal. Its dorsal section extends from the occipital protuberance of the skull (the poll) to the withers, then narrows to become the supraspinous ligament.
The distal check originates from the palmar carpal ligament and attaches to the deep digital flexor tendon, approximately 2/3-way down the metacarpus. Plantar ligament: in the hind leg, runs down the lateral side of the tarsus, attaches to the fibular, 4th tarsal, and 3rd metatarsal bones. It helps to support the fetlock, and provides an enclosed “pulley” for the flexor tendons to run through.
See also: Back (horse) and Poll (livestock) The axial skeleton contain the skull , vertebral column , sternum , and ribs. The sternum consists of multiple sternebrae, which fuse to form one bone, attached to the 10 “true” pairs of ribs, out of a total of 18. The vertebral column usually contains 54 bones: 7 cervical vertebrae, including the atlas (C1) and axis (C2) which support and help move the skull, 18 (or rarely, 19) thoracic,  5-6 lumbar, 5 sacral (which fuse together to form the sacrum), and 15-25 coccygeal  vertebrae with an average of 18.
The withers of the horse are made up by the dorsal spinal processes of the thoracic vertebrae numbers 5 to 9. The nasal cavity leads into the respiratory system, and includes extensive paranasal sinuses . This allows great mobility in the front limb, and is partially responsible for the horse‘s ability to fold his legs up when jumping.
Although the hindlimb supports only about 40% of the weight of the animal, it creates most of the forward movement of the horse, and is stabilized through attachments to the spine. Scapula (shoulder blade): flat bone with a large area of cartilage that partially forms the withers. Ulna: caudal to the radius, it is usually partially fused to that bone in an adult horse.
The pelvic cavity is larger in diameter in the mare than in the stallion, providing more room for the foal during birth. It serves as an attachment point for the deep and middle glueteal muscles, and the accessory and round ligaments. Performance horses, like human athletes, place a high amount of stress on their bones and joints.
One of the goals for management for these horses often involve caring for the joints to reduce the progression of arthritis. This usually includes a close monitoring of the animal’s schedule to determine how to reduce the amount of joint concussion he experiences. In addition, polysulfated glycosaminoglycan restores the synovial fluid , which acts as a lubricant to enhance joint movement.
Corticosteroids (glucocorticoids) are naturally produced by the adrenal gland to control metabolism, as well as reduce inflammation. The latter effect is the main reason they are used in the joints: intra-articular injections of corticosteroids decrease the inflammation associated with arthritis, partially by reducing the production of prostaglandin. Additionally, injections within the joint will still “leak” corticosteroids into the surrounding tissues and circulate throughout the body.
It is therefore best to perform radiographs of the intended joint beforehand, and have a qualified veterinarian assist in determining the proper dosages for the horse. Possible side effects include a decrease of immune response within the injected joint (which makes it more likely to infection), laminitis , and suppression of natural production of corticosteroids by the horse. Many owners supplement their joint health program by feeding supplements containing various nutraceutical substances which are thought to benefit the joint, including oral glycosaminoglycans ( glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate ), methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), and, most recently, hyaluronic acid (HA).
On the other side, organizations such as the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) point out that very few independent studies using a truly scientific model have been performed on oral joint supplements, and thus, the extent of their positive effects is debatable. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) help to reduce inflammation by inhibiting prostaglandins and other chemicals, and also provide pain relief. Fractures Arthritis and Degenerative joint disease (DJD): including bone spavin , ringbone , osselets, omarthritis Degenerative suspensory ligament desmitis (DSLD), and sprains of the suspensory ligament Navicular disease Carpitis (sprained knee) Locked kneecap (delayed patellar release or intermittent upward fixation of the patella) Curb (sprain of the plantar ligament) Splints Bucked shins Sesamoiditis Osteochondrosis
^ The suspensory ligament ^ a b King, Christine, BVSc, MACVSc, and Mansmann, Richard, VMD, PhD. Illustrated Atlas of Clinical Equine Anatomy and Common Disorders of the Horse Vol.
The horse and human skeletons are quite similar, even though we stand in completely different orientations, on either four legs or two. There are some major differences between our skeletons: a horses bones are much larger than ours, the proportions are different and we each have a few bones that are unique. But, overall, our skeleton and the horses skeleton are a lot alike.
Horses have muscles that act like collar bones, but there is no skeletal attachment of the front leg to the rib cage as in humans. If it sits on the cartilageous part of your horses nose it, can be quite uncomfortable and potentially damaging, not to mention interfering with his breathing.
Does a horse have collarbone? What is the largest long bone in a horse? Which one is the largest of a horses flat bones? Where is a horses cannon bone? What is the common name for the tarsus bone? What is a coccygeal?
For the answer to the other questions posed here plus lots more information about horses bones and skeleton, read on! Start Here Swan Trainings unique combination of seasoned, caring instructors; premier facilities; dedication to exceptional horse care; and a shared commitment to excellence in horsemanship and sportsmanship, make it your best choice for horse and rider.
The alignment of these bones determines the horses conformation, movement, mechanics, and efficiency. The bones of the horse skeleton are held together with ligaments, tendons, and muscles. When the skeleton structure is properly proportioned the joints work smoothly.
If the angle at which these bones are working is compromised, the joint becomes unevenly stressed and injury to the tendons and ligaments become more likely. The axial skeleton protects the horses vital parts and consists of the skull, the ribcage, and the backbone. The appendicular skeleton supports the body and consists of the shoulders, forelegs, pelvis and hind legs.
Mandible: Contains lower jaw teeth Maxilla: Sides of nasal cavity that contain upper canine, pre-molars, and molars Incisive: Under nasal cavity that contains upper incisor teeth Nasal: Front of head Frontal: In between eyes Parietal: Top of head Hyoid bone 18 pairs of ribs, each one connected to a thoracic vertebra Sternum (breastbone) Pelvis (the largest flat bone) Femur (the largest long bone) Patella Tibia Fibula Hip joint Stifle joint Tarsus (hock)
Lower limb bones, present in both front and hind legs The hindleg attaches to the vertebral column via the pelvis, while the foreleg does not directly attach to the spine ( as a horse does not have a collarbone ), and is instead suspended in place by muscles and tendons.
The skeleton has three main functions
The skeleton performs the same roles in horses as other animals – and it does more jobs than you might think.First and most obviously, it gives the body its shape and holds it up. Think of it as a bony form of scaffolding.Its second job is to protect the vital organs. The skeleton provides a hard cage to protect the softer tissue from damage.And together with the brain and muscles, the joints between the bones are what allow horses – and all other animals – to move. We’ll find out more about that later.A horse’s skeleton is divided into two main parts – the axial and the appendicular skeletons. The axial skeleton comprises the horse’s skull, vertebra, sternum and rib cage. The appendicular skeleton consists of the legs – more properly referred to as the fore and hind limbs.
Horses don’t have a collarbone
That’s right, horses lack a collarbone (also known as a clavicle). That’s because their front legs are attached to their spine by muscles and tendons, not by bones. That has some advantages.When the horse runs, its movement isn’t restricted by the collarbone getting in the way of its shoulder blades. And a more mobile shoulder blade gives the horse a longer stride, allowing it to run more efficiently.Contrary to popular belief, a horse does, however, have one of the other well-known bones in humans – the funny bone! And there’s also a famous racehorse, now retired, called D’Funnybone!
Horses usually have 54 vertebra
Horses have lots more vertebra than humans – around 54, compared to 33 in human children and 24 in adults.Between 15 and 25 of those vertebra are found in the tail. These are known as coccygeal vertebra, and the average horse has 18 of them.The bones that support the skull are the atlas and axis vertebra, known as C1 and C2. They, together with another five bones at the top of the vertebral column, are known as “cervical vertebra”. Further down the vertebral column are the thoracic, lumbar and sacral vertebra.As with ribs, the precise number of vertebra can vary according to the breed of the horse.Arabians are again an exception, with some horses having fewer vertebra than other breeds. They often have five lumbar vertebra, as opposed to the more usual six. And they can also have 17 instead of 18 thoracic vertebra, and 16 or 17, rather than 18 coccygeal vertebra.
Horses get arthritis too
Like humans, horses’ skeletons can be subject to a range of diseases. One of those is arthritis, an inflamed joint that causes pain and stiffness. And just as in people, arthritis in horses is relatively common.Arthritis is usually accompanied by a swelling of the joint as a result of extra synovial fluid being produced. But not all swelling is arthritis, so tests like nerve block examinations and x-rays may be required to confirm a diagnosis.The good news is that early diagnosis and treatment of acute arthritis can often cure the condition.Treatment may vary from a period of rest to injecting the affected joint with anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids. Today, stem cells are also increasingly being used to combat the condition. And sometimes surgery may be used as a last resort.
The femur is the longest bone
Just as with humans, the longest bone in a horse’s skeleton is the femur. The precise length, of course, varies according to the breed, sex and maturity of the animal.When it comes to flat bones, the pelvis is the largest.And at the other end of the scale, the smallest bones in the equine skeleton are in the ears. These are the malleus, the incus and, smallest of all, the stapes. The latter, appropriately enough, is Latin for “stirrup”!
Get Started with SwanTraining
Swan Training’s unique combination of seasoned, caring instructors; premier facilities; dedication to exceptional horse care; and a shared commitment to excellence in horsemanship and sportsmanship, make it your best choice for horse and rider.The horse’s body contains just over 200 bones, 205 to be exact. The alignment of these bones determines the horse’s conformation, movement, mechanics, and efficiency. The bones of the horse skeleton are held together with ligaments, tendons, and muscles. When the skeleton structure is properly proportioned the joints work smoothly. One bone works in relation to another. If the angle at which these bones are working is compromised, the joint becomes unevenly stressed and injury to the tendons and ligaments become more likely.There are two main parts to the horses’ skeleton, axial and appendicular. The axial skeleton protects the horse’s vital parts and consists of the skull, the ribcage, and the backbone.The appendicular skeleton supports the body and consists of the shoulders, forelegs, pelvis and hind legs.