Horses are amazing animals, and also we love learning more about them. Today, we’re acquisition a look at at one of the most fascinating elements of equine anatomy – your bones!

We’re going to share 14 facts around the horse skeleton, indigenous head come hoof! and we think you’ll discover plenty come surprise and also astonish you.

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So without additional ado, let’s obtain to the bones of the matter…

1. The skeleton has three key functions


The skeleton performs the same duties in steeds as other animals – and also it does more jobs than you can think.

First and most obviously, it provides the body its shape and holds the up. Think of it as a bony form of scaffolding.

Its second job is to defend the an important organs. The skeleton offers a tough cage to safeguard the softer tissue from damage.

And along with the mind and muscles, the joints between the bones space what allow horses – and all other animals – to move. We’ll discover out much more about the 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 also rib cage. The appendicular skeleton is composed of the legs – more properly referred to as the fore and hind limbs.

2. Horses’ bones deserve to be divided into 5 groups …

Bones take different forms, and these can be split into groups. Over there are five groups in the equine skeleton: long bones, quick bones, flat bones, rarely often rare bones and sesamoids.

Long bones are precisely as you’d imagine – long! not surprisingly, you’ll find most that the horse’s lengthy bones in the legs. There, they aid the equine to walk, and also also administer storage because that the mineral it demands for the bodily functions.

Short skeleton are uncovered in the joints, like the hock, fetlock and knee. Over there they assist absorb shocks as the horse moves.

Flat bones are the persons that defend the horse’s internal organs. Ribs are a good example, curving to form a cage about the heart.

Irregular bones additionally have a security function. In this case, they safeguard the main nervous system. The most noticeable examples of rarely often, rarely bones space vertebra.

Finally, sesamoids are bones that sit inside a tendon. The most well known of the sesamoids is the navicular bone, i m sorry is discovered at the earlier of the hoof.

3. … yet they have a lot an ext than five bones!


There are around 205 bones in a horse’s skeleton. The precise number varies by breed, through Arabians having actually fewer vertebra and also ribs.

Oddly enough, the number is very comparable to the number of bones in one adult human. Youngsters have much more – approximately 270 – however over time, many of those fuse together. A maturation adult person will have anywhere between 206 and also 213 bones.

But while the number might be similar, there are a totality lot that differences in between a horse’s skeleton and also a human being being’s. Therefore let’s take it a look in ~ a couple of of them …

4. Equines don’t have actually a collarbone

That’s right, horses lack a collarbone (also known as a clavicle). That’s since their former legs space attached to their spine by muscles and also tendons, not by bones. That has some advantages.

When the equine runs, its movement isn’t restricted by the collarbone obtaining in the method of that is shoulder blades. And a more mobile shoulder blade provides the horse a longer stride, allowing it come run more efficiently.

Contrary to renowned belief, a steed does, however, have actually one the the other renowned bones in people – the funny bone! and there’s additionally a famous racehorse, currently retired, dubbed D’Funnybone!

5. Horse skulls have more than double as numerous bones as person skulls …


When it comes to their skulls, horses have many much more bones than people – 34 in comparison come 14. That’s possibly not surprising once you think about how various horse’s heads room in size and shape to those the humans.

Almost all the skeleton in an equine skull are fused together, giving a stable structure to defend the brain. The only part that moves is the jaw, v the flexibility detailed by the temporo-mandibular joint. This activity is what enables the equine to chew.

Unlike humans, equines cannot breathe v their mouths. This, however, is not related to the structure of your skulls. Instead, it’s a an outcome of the soft palate which completely divides the horse’s mouth native its nasal passages.

6. … and also they have actually some clever features

There room some other features of the horse’s skull that space quite different to the of humans. And they give the equine some outstanding abilities.

Perhaps many amazing room the place of the orbits. These space the caries in the skull in which the horse’s eye sit.

Unlike humans, who eyes room positioned ~ above the front of ours faces, horses’ orbits are located on the sides. Castle also allow the eyes to revolve in such a way that the horse have the right to have virtually 360-degree vision.

The only black clues if you’re a horse is a small area straight in prior of and also behind your head.

7. Equines usually have actually 54 vertebra


Horses have lots much more vertebra than people – approximately 54, compared to 33 in person children and 24 in adults.

Between 15 and 25 of those vertebra are uncovered in the tail. This are well-known as coccygeal vertebra, and the average horse has actually 18 that them.

The bones that assistance the skull space the atlas and also axis vertebra, well-known as C1 and C2. They, in addition to another 5 bones at the top of the vertebral column, are known as “cervical vertebra”. More down the vertebral obelisk are the thoracic, lumbar and sacral vertebra.

As v ribs, the precise variety of vertebra have the right to vary follow to the each other of the horse.

Arabians are again an exception, through some horses having fewer vertebra than other breeds. They often have five lumbar vertebra, as opposed to the an ext usual six. And also they can also have 17 instead of 18 thoracic vertebra, and 16 or 17, quite than 18 coccygeal vertebra.

8. The vote is the highest component of the skeleton

When horses have their top upright, the poll is the uppermost part of their skeleton. The a bony bump that sits best in the center of their head, simply behind your ears.

Many steed riders, however, usage the hatchet “poll” or “poll joint” to define the area in between the atlas vertebra and the base of the skull. There’s generally a tiny dip at the point, and also it’s an extremely sensitive come pressure.

It’s also where component of the bridle passes end the horse’s head, and where a headcollar or halter will certainly touch the skull. By lightly pushing this area, the rider have the right to influence the horse’s behavior. That provides it very important in equestrian disciplines like dressage.

9. Horses sometimes have an extra bone in your knee

What we contact our kneecap, or scapula, is called the carpus in a horse’s forelegs. However if friend think of the horse’s forelegs as being an ext similar to human arms, the carpus is favor the wrist.

To enable totally free movement, the joint below usually has actually two small rows of three bones. However some horses have one, or also two, extra skeleton in this area.

All horses have a second, third and 4th carpal bone. However about fifty percent of horses also have a first carpal bone. And more rarely, a fifth carpal bone may be present as well.

These added bones are small, and also while they serve no useful purpose, castle shouldn’t cause problems either. Lock can, however, periodically be mistaken for a chip-fracture if the equine is x-rayed.

10. Horses have actually a “middle finger” in your hooves


Horses’ hooves room amazing feats of engineering.

The main bone in the hoof is known by the much less than appealing moniker that “coffin bone”. It is suspended inside the hoof by the laminae, a fragile substance it is a little like Velcro.

Another surname for the coffin bone, the third phalanx, or P3, gives you a clue to its person equivalent. It’s basically the same as the center finger!

The various other “fingers” have long due to the fact that disappeared native the hoof v the procedure of evolution. The remnants the the 2nd and fourth fingers can, however, tho be watched in two tapered bones – “split bones”. This sit alongside the cannon bone in the horse’s leg.

That pipeline us through the important astonishing reality that horses basically walk on their middle fingers!

11. Different joints permit different degrees of mobility

The means a horse’s skeleton is placed together affects the way the pet can move. Different species of joints permit different varieties of movement.

Most crucial are the synovial joints. These space found in between the vertebra and also in the horses’ knee, pastern, fetlock, hock and stifle.

They are formed by the end of 2 bones spanned in a substance called articular cartilage. The this cartilage that permits the share to relocate freely.

These varieties of joints likewise have a membrane referred to as the synovial membrane. This produces a lubricant, synovial fluid, which likewise helps to store the joint working smoothly.

12. Horses obtain arthritis too

Like humans, horses’ skeletons have the right to be subject to a variety of diseases. Among those is arthritis, one inflamed joint that causes pain and stiffness. And just as in people, arthritis in steeds is reasonably common.

Arthritis is typically accompanied by a ede of the joint as a an outcome of extra synovial fluid being produced. However not all ede is arthritis, for this reason tests choose nerve block examinations and x-rays may be forced to check a diagnosis.

The great news is that early on diagnosis and treatment the acute arthritis can regularly cure the condition.

Treatment may vary indigenous a period of remainder to injecting the impacted joint with anti-inflammatory medicine or steroids. Today, stem cell are additionally increasingly being used to combat the condition. And also sometimes surgery may be used as a critical resort.

13. The femur is the longest bone

Just similar to humans, the longest bone in a horse’s skeleton is the femur. The an exact length, the course, varies according come the breed, sex and maturity the the animal.

When it pertains to flat bones, the pelvis is the largest.

And at the other finish of the scale, the the smallest bones in the equine skeleton room in the ears. These are the malleus, the incus and, smallest of all, the stapes. The latter, accordingly enough, is Latin because that “stirrup”!

14. A horse’s skeleton provides up almost half of its body weight


Those of us who contact ourselves “big boned” recognize that the skeleton is a big contributor come our weight! The exact same is true the horses. However just how hefty is a horse’s skeleton?

The weight will count on the size of the equine itself. Yet as a rule of thumb, you can expect the skeleton to account for about 40 percent the a horse’s total body weight. It is considerably much more than for humans, wherein the equivalent figure is around 15 percent.

The largest of all equine breeds is the Shire horse. Sampson, a Shire gelding bred in Bedfordshire, holds the record for the world tallest and also heaviest horse. He was claimed to sweet in in ~ a enormous 3,359 pounds.

That would certainly make Sampson’s bones alone weigh an astonishing 1,344 pounds. It is about half the load of the mean car! Sampson was later on – fittingly – change the name Mammoth.

Everything you ever before wanted come know about horse skeletons!

That brings united state to the end of our evaluation of 14 facts about horse skeletons! we hope you’ve appreciated learning an ext about these impressive creatures.

Comparing horses and human skeletons is a fascinating exercise.

We both have around the same number of bones in ours bodies. The longest bone because that both of united state is the femur. And also in both humans and also horses, the the smallest bone is the stapes.

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But there are big differences too. Horses have lots more vertebra and a more complicated skull. And perhaps most amazing the all are their hooves, which have them walking on the tantamount of their middle fingers!

Next time you check out a horse, us hope you’ll gain knowing an ext about what’s going on in ~ the surface.