Horse Anatomy

Horse Anatomy
*Click on image for a larger view

In order to be a true horse lover you must fully understand all of their working parts. Anatomy is closely linked to horse health and understanding the basic lingo is a must. Understanding these definitions will make speaking with your vet easier than ever before.

Horse Anatomy Defined

You see the picture, now learn what they all mean.

Poll – The point where the head meets the neck, just behind the ears.

Crest – The top portion of the neck, generally more pronounced in studs.

Mane – Long hair which grows from the withers to the forelock and lies on either side of the neck.

Neck – Connects at the ears and runs down to the shoulder.

Withers – The highest point of the back, just above the shoulder blades. Horse height is measured at the withers.

Back – Begins at the withers and extends to the last thoracic vertebrae.

Loin – The area just behind where a saddle sits, the space from the last vertebrae to the croup.

Croup – Begins at the top of the hip and extends down to the dock where the tail begins.

Dock – The point where the rump and the tail connect.

Hindquarters – The large & muscular area of the upper hind legs, behind the barrel and above the stifle.

Point of Buttock – The rounded edge of the rump.

Tail – Not just long, flowing hair. The tail includes the coccygeal vertebrae & the surrounding muscle and skin from which it grows.

Hock – The bending joint (corresponds to the knee on the front legs) on the hind leg.

Chestnut – A fleshy callous found on the inside of each leg.

Gaskin – The large muscle just above the hock on the inside of hind legs.

Stifle – The joint where the hind legs connect to the body.

Flank – Area where hind legs meet the barrel just past the stifle and just before the ribcage.

Barrel – Body of horse, essentially the area enclosed in the ribcage.

Elbow – The joint where the front leg meets the body of the horse.

Chestnut – A horny growth on the inside of each front leg.

Ergot – A horny growth on the back side of the fetlock joint.

Fetlock – The “ankle” joint (although really closer to the ball of the foot in anatomy) connecting the hoof to the leg.

Hoof – The foot, Hard on the outside and softer on the inside. The hoof is a harder version of our fingernails.

Coronet Band – Ring of soft tissue around the top of the hoof where it meets the skin.

Pastern – The space between the coronet band and the fetlock.

Cannon – The long, slender space between the knee and fetlock joints.

Knee – The bending joint of the front legs.

Forearm – The area between the knee and the elbow of the front legs

Heart Girth – Or girth The area just behind the elbow, where the saddle girth sits. Should be the largest diameter of the horses barrel.

Breast – The muscle mass between the forearms that covers the front of the chest.

Point of Shoulder – The frontmost part of the horses chest.

Shoulder – The space between the withers and the point of shoulder

Throatlatch – Where the windpipe meets the jaw. Often where the strap of a bridle lays.

Cheek – The bottom circular portion of the horses face.

Nostril – The outside of a horses nose.

Muzzle – Chin, mouth and nose are all parts of the muzzle.

Forehead – The flat space between a horses eyes.

Forelock – A section of the mane which grows at the top of the forehead.

Now you know it, share it. Make sure everyone you know understands their horses anatomy too.

11 Comments on “Horse Anatomy

  1. Joy

    Great post! It’s always good to revisit such basics.

    How bout a post on a horse’s internal organs? And another on identifying tendons/ligaments? The difference between the deep digital flexor tendon and the suspensory ligament, for example?

    1. Katlyne Spraker

      I am a student in high school and I believe that this information is important to anyone who wants to learn and is willing to do a little bit of research on it. I believe that you think that it is unimportant because you don’t want to understand it.

  2. Caitlyn

    U have missed some like point of hock, jowls, chin grove, hip, jugular grove, pectoral, projecting cheek bone,thigh and hamstring and more but I forgot what their called

  3. Allison

    I am reading a book in which the author used the term ‘the horse’s snout.’ Horses don’t have snouts! They have muzzles. Lazy writing. She should have looked here.

  4. lindsay

    So what you are saying is that the time period in your life prior to you actually knowing all the parts of a horse you WERE NOT a true horse lover, is this correct?

    That your love for horses did not lead you be more interested in them; what a horse eats, the evolution of horse, or the anatomy of a horse? Interesting. It is my love for horses that has caused me to be more interested in them. I will say this much your diagram is very good and your definition of each word is clear and precise. However, your initial sentence is that of a fool.

  5. brad faulkner

    this was realy help full could you tell me how the muscle structure works and a picture of the muscle structure and the names of each part pleas

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