The horse’s skeleton underwent significant evolutionary changes over the last 55million years. When the horses’ ancestors moved from forests and open pastures, their skeletons got longer and lost a few toes. The changes in the horse’s skeleton increased its distance and pace, which allowed it to flee from predators. the Know About Horse Bones Structure in this article
Like other vertebrate animals, the skeleton performs three primary functions for horses. They protect vital organs, support soft tissues, and provide structure to the body. Its bones are joined by ligaments, whereas tendons connect muscles and muscle groups to bones.
Similar to our similar skeletons, the horse is divided into two main sections: the axial and the appendicular Skeletal. The axial skeleton consists of the skull, ribcage, and vertebral column, and the appendicular skeleton refers to the hind and front legs.
They are fascinating in every aspect, as is their skull. We share some fascinating details about the equine’s skeleton that will inspire you to feel captivated by the animals more!
More about Horse Bones Structure
The majority of Horses have 205 Bones
On average, there are 205 bones in horses within their skeleton. It is interesting to note that this is an inch less than the number of bones we have, which is 206.
However, some breeds of horses are equipped with fewer and/or more bone structures in their skeletons than the majority. One example would be the Arabian Horse, which often has fewer ribs, lower vertebrae, and tail bones than the typical horse.
In particular, Arabian Horses come with 17 pairs instead 18 lumbar vertebrae, instead of 6 and 16-17 tail bones rather than 18. This is why Arabian Horses have a shorter torso and a larger tail carriage than other horse breeds.
In reality, the number of tail bones can vary from horse to horse and range from 15 to 25. The final figure is determined by the bloodlines of the horse and its genetics.
40% of Horses’ weight is of Bones only.
The horse’s skeleton is believed to be responsible for making almost 50% of the horse’s body weight. However, the skeleton’s weight depends on the horse’s weight.
As a result, the human skeleton is about 15% of the entire body’s weight. Talk about being big-boned!
Although a typical 400-kg (880-pound) bone weighs 160 kg (352 pounds), The horse’s bones from the draft weigh significantly larger.
The world’s largest and tallest horse was a Shire gelding named Sampson, who was from Bedfordshire, England. Also called Mammoth, the horse weighed an excellent 21.25 hands and weighed more than one ton and an eighth (3,359 kilograms). That means his body alone weighed 610 kilograms (1,344 pounds), which is about more than the weight of a car!
Horses have 34 different types of Bones
The skull of horses comprises 34 bones, while a human skull contains 14 bones. Because horses have a different size and shape than we do, their skulls are giant and have more bones. Furthermore, 14 significant skull bones have been identified.
Like other animals, those bones in the horse’s skull form the skull’s cavities, which house the eyes, brain, mouth, nose, and mouth. Most bones are fused, with the only moving part being the mandible, also known as the jaw.
One of the most interesting differences between the skulls of horses and humans is the positioning that the orbits are located. For humans, the orbits are facing forward, which allows us to enjoy binocular vision. In horses, the orbits are placed to the sides of their skulls, which allows them to view almost all around them.
The only blindspots that a horse can have are directly in front or behind its head. To prevent horses from hitting things they don’t know about, Nature has gifted them long sensory hairs on their muzzle. That’s why it’s essential to keep a horse’s whiskers in place and not cut them to enhance their appearance.
Female Horses have lesser teeth than male Horses
The number of teeth a horse has is based on gender. Most but not all male horses have teeth that are on either side of their lower and upper jaws, which gives them the totality of forty teeth.
Because canines aren’t present in females, they only have 36 teeth. But the teeth of genders occupy more space in their skulls than their brains!
Another exciting aspect about horses’ teeth is that they have five different forms and two different types (baby and permanent). They continue to grow throughout a horse’s life, so an important reason to maintain regular dental hygiene.
You’ve probably heard it is possible to determine a horse’s age by looking into its mouth! It’s not a fable, and the younger your horse, the less precise the estimate is likely to be.
Horses don’t have clavicles.
Contrary to many vertebrate mammals, horses don’t have the clavicle or collarbone in their skeleton. For other vertebrates such as humans, collarbones connect the shoulder blades and arms to the body and stabilize the upper parts of the torso.
For horses with a collarbone, this could limit their stride length and efficiency as runners. Also, they wouldn’t be capable of folding their legs when they jump high.
Instead of having a collarbone, horses’ forelimbs are joined to a substantial collection of tendons and muscles known as the thoracic sling. The front legs don’t directly join vertebral columns like the hind legs.
The thoracic sling is possible due to the large smooth surfaces on the shoulder blade and the sternum, which provides plenty of places to attach muscles. The three primary muscles of the thoracic sling comprise the trapezius muscle, the serratus ventralis, and the pectorals.
the Shoulder Angle can determine Horse’s Athletic Ability
The slope or angle of the shoulders is frequently assessed when evaluating the conformity of horses that ride. When we refer to “shoulder angle”, we refer to an angle that is in the shoulders of horses (scapula) relative to the bones of their upper arm (humerus).
The horses with more angled shoulders are more likely to perform well in competitions requiring speed and athleticism. This is because the more the shoulder joint is angled, the less the risk of a concussion being transmitted into the structures in the lower leg.
Thus, a shoulder that is sloping or bent indicates good riding horses. Horses with straighter, more steep shoulders have shorter strides and more jarring gaits. However, steep shoulders are joints in draft horses designed to pull heavy objects and machines.
The Thoracic Vertebrae Make Up The Horse’s Withers
The withers are the most elevated point on the back of a horse and are located near the intersection of the back and neck. For most breeds, the withers serve as a starting point for taking measurements of the horse’s height.
If we examine the equine skeleton, we will notice that the withers consist of the narrow and long structure of the cervical vertebrae from the 5th until the 9th. The primary function of the withers is to serve as an attachment point to the muscles and tendons of the back and neck.
Horses take six years to mature their Backbone.
Researchers agree that the final structure that matures within the horse’s skeleton will be vertebral columns. It takes about six years for the Backbone’s growth plates to join, which is essential to consider when breaking young horses.
According to Dr Deb Bennett, The horse’s spine requires at least five and five and a half years to mature, but this can vary depending on the height and gender. Male horses typically require another six months for full development. In addition, tall horses with long necks may not be fully mature until eight years old.
It is a standard practice across the world of horses to ride two- and 3-year-olds, and this is a significant concern for the welfare of the horse’s skeletal system still developing at this point. In general, as a principle, the more time you are waiting to ride an untrained horse longer its working lifespan is likely to be.
A horse can stand on a single toe.
As donkeys and zebras, horses also have one toe, which we recognize as a hoof. You may be surprised to learn that it’s true that this “toe” is the equivalent of the third digit on our feet and hands!
However, horses haven’t always been like this. About 55 million years ago, their predecessors could walk with four toes on their front feet and three at the rear. As time passed, all but the middle toes were reduced and became the stale remnants we have today.
Many equestrians know that the splint bone on the opposite side of the bone show what’s left of the 4th and 2nd toes. Anatomist Nikos Solounias and his colleagues think that the ridges found on the splint bone’s tip are the remnants of the 1st and 5th fingers.
Although splint bones are undoubtedly intriguing, they could also be a source of health issues for today’s horses. A fractured bone splint or inflammation could cause painful bone protrusions and “splints” appearing on the horse’s leg.