• Clare Long

Parts of the Horse



Pertinent information from video:


So Anna and I got a lot of video material today, which was really, really fun.

I'm just going to finish our day with an Educational Series segment on

"Parts of the Horse's Body."


About our model, "Smoky":


This is Smoky.

He's adorable and sweet and wonderful.

Smoky, as you can tell by his conformation, is half Percheron (which is a draft breed),

and half Quarter Horse (which is an American breed.)

So we love the mix.

He came out really well.

He's 9 years old.

He's about 15.2 on his tiptoes.

He's a delightful individual.

Very sweet.

Very willing.

Basically just a walk-trot-canter horse right now.

He's just learning about the arena: how to steer and how to do transitions.

He's a really big, expressive mover.

He will be super for Dressage, Western Dressage, Working Equestrian

and even Competitive Trail Stuff.

He'd even be really fun on a Drill Team.

He's massive.

You really see it when you're with him.


Parts of the horse:


These are the parts of the horse that I feel every horse person should know.

I'm not going to be discussing the little muscles and the little tiny

"this and that" and the intricate things.

This is the "broad strokes," for the parts of the horse.


We start with the obvious:

there's the muzzle, the eyes, the ears, the forehead, the cheeks.


This part here between the ears is called the poll.

This is a very important part for you guys to remember.

Right here between the horse's ears.

When you're schooling a horse properly in dressage,

the poll always needs to be the highest point.

When you have the horse properly in a dressage frame,

the poll always has to be the highest point.

The forehead either has to be on the vertical or the nose poked out

just in front of the vertical: that's your dressage frame.

Here is his neck.

The top of the neck is called the crest.

If a horse has built their top line properly, they have a nicely developed crest.

You do not want the underside of the neck to be muscled up.

You want this part to be relaxed.


Then, as we go back and down:

the shoulder, the chest.

This is the forearm.

This is the elbow.

Here is the knee.


This is the cannon.

This is my favorite part of the horse’s body because I think it's pretty.

The canon is where your galloping boots go.


This is called the fetlock.

If you want to call it the ankle, you can call it the ankle.

But it's actually the fetlock.


This is the pastern.


This part that connects the flesh part of the horse to the hoof is called the coronet band.


And then obviously the hoof.

(Another session we'll talk about the parts of the hoof, but we don't need to do that today.)


Sorry guys, but you need to memorize these basic Parts of the Horse.

You could also pull a diagram up online, or from a book, and memorize it.

It know sounds like a lot to memorize, but once you know it, you know it.

Withers. Important.

Everybody knows about the withers.

We measure the height of the horse at the wither.

The wither is really important with saddle fit.

This horse has a really nice sized wither.

He has a really nice back for bareback riding.

He is kind of built like what we call a couch, so, really comfortable to ride bareback.


This part here is actually just called his back.


This is his barrel, which is easy, because it looks like a barrel.


The other important one: the top of the booty is called the croup.

Croup, spelled like the coughing illness.

When a horse is working properly in any of the Performance Horse disciplines,

they get lower in their booty.

They "sit" and they "engage," and so the croup goes down/gets lower.


This is the loin.


For me, this is actually one of the most important parts of the horse, because if you don't have a strong loin, you don't have a strong horse.

If you don't have a strong loin, your horse can't sit and engage and carry.

The loin is between the "back" and the croup.


You will see on a really weak horse or on an undeveloped horse, there will probably be a dip here, because the loin area hasn't been filled out with muscle.

You see how Smoky is really well muscled in his loin area, so it means that we've developed him properly, and that we've created a good physical foundation.


Of course, the horse's always get really good mental foundations with me because I love them so much and I tell them how awesome they are all the time.


Tell your horse how great he is all the time!


This part is called the stifle.


You do not want stifle issues or injuries!

They're monsters and they can end a horse’s career.

So we really, really try to stay away from any kind of stifle issue.


If you're looking to buy a horse and they say,

“well he had an issue with his stifle but he's healed,” still be really careful.

They can re-injure.

I stay away from anything having to do with stifle injuries.


This is called the gaskin, Adjacent to the forearm.

And when your horse is well muscled and fit, you get good muscle here in the gaskin area.


The hock.

Everyone has heard of the hock.

The hock takes a lot of wear and tear.

There’s all sorts of maintenance stuff you can do for the hock.


And then it's all easy from the hock down because it's the same as the front leg:

cannon, fetlock, pastern, coronet band, hoof.


The thing that his privates are in is called the sheath.


Here is the hip, and the haunch.


The top of the tail is called the dock of the tail.


I'm a real stickler you guys: groom the dock of the tail every day.

Every single day, if you groom the top nine inches of the tail with a hair brush your horse's tail is going to be healthy and grow out really nicely.

They're not going to itch the dock of their tail.


We have other segments where I talk about tail itching and grooming:

Grooming is the key to your horse's heart!

Tail Itch

But if you make sure those little dead pieces of hair aren't there in the dock of the tail,

you're going to have a much healthier, nicer tail.

One last piece, the top line:

the top line is the entire top line of the horse from the poll over the crest, over the back, and all the way to the back of the tail.


And then you guys know the vertebrae, his backbone,

goes all the way to here, about a foot down in their tail.


So when a horse is "on the bit," they’re on the bit all the way through their tail.

Which is why when horses are relaxed and on the bit,

they may swing their tail as they're walking and trotting.


It is very important with a performance horse to have a strong top line.

All this work we do with performance horses is to build a strong top line.

And, say you just want to have a trail horse and you're going to have him in your backyard and you're going to love her and keep her forever:

you still want a strong top line.


If you're utilizing the belly muscles; the more the back is up, the more you're building back muscle, the longer your horse is going to last, and the more comfortable they will be to sit on.


And they are also going to stay much stronger and much healthier physically.


This is the chestnut.

This little funny looking callous thing here is called the chestnut.

The chestnut, very briefly, is part of evolution.

Initially, when horses were first created all the way back,

they looked like little dogs, and they had toes like dogs do.

And over the millions of years (please don't quote me, I don't know exactly how many years...) but over the years, they developed into hoofs, and the scientific thinking is that the chestnut is the last of the toes that is going away and is no longer being utilized.

So, in another thousand years maybe, the chestnut will disappear, because it's the last remnant of way back in evolution when horses had toes like dogs.


One more part: the ergot.

You guys are going to sometimes find these bony growths on the back of the fetlock.

Most people don't know; it’s called an ergot.

It's made out of the same material as the chestnut.

I think we touched on all of the most important parts of the horse.

Hopefully I didn't miss any.

Have fun memorizing them!

And see you next time!