Parts Of A Horse

A Brief Overview of the Basic Parts

Knowing the parts of a horse will provide you with the basic understanding of horse anatomy. Consider it a place to start when you begin to study or learn the anatomy of a horse.

It is also where youth who are beginning to show or become involved with horses start with their horse knowledge. When discussing certain factors in regards to your horse's health, you will find that many equine professionals use these terms frequently. It can almost seem like learning a foreign language at first. Many non-horse people will also have a hard time following what you are referencing when you use these terms.

Most of the time when you learn the parts of a horse you begin with a simple chart that outlines parts that are frequently referenced. For the sake of organization, we have broken up the horse in to three sections to help with learning the parts of a horse.

Head & Neck

Chin Groove: The area on a horse's head just behind the lower lip. Also where the curb chain of the bridle rests.
Crest: The upper part of a horse's neck, most easily identified by where the mane grows.
Muzzle: The section of the horse's face that contains the chin, mouth, and nostrils.
Poll: Refers to the poll joint at the top or beginning of the horse's neck just behind the ears. The specific "poll joint" being referenced is the point where the base of the horse's skull connects to the first vertebra of the cervical spine (where C1 connects to the occipital crest). The occipital crest is actually the "poll".
Throatlatch: Where the windpipe meets the head just under the jaw.

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Back: Place on the horse where you place the saddle. Starting just behind the withers to the end of the last thoracic vertebra.
Barrel: Of the parts of the horse, this is considered the main body area of the horse. It is where the ribcage and internal organs are.
Croup: Top line part of the horse at the hindquarters. Begins at the hip and extends to the dock or at the point of the sacral vertebra.
Dock: Place on the horse where the tail connects to the end of the horse. The dock is usually where the coccygeal vertebra begin.
Flank: Area on the horse where the barrel meets the hind legs, just behind the ribcage.
Girth: Located just behind the elbow of the horse, where you would place the girth of the saddle. Also usually the area where the ribcage is at its largest circumference or diameter.
Hindquarters: Muscular area the powers the hind legs. Usually a larger muscled area behind the barrel and just above the stifle.
Loin: Can be identified as the area just behind the saddle (between the last rib and the croup) which is also the area of the lumbar spine.
Shoulder: Consists of the horse's shoulder blades or scapulae and surrounding muscles.
Withers: Point of thoracic vertebrae that is the highest and located above the tops of the shoulder blades.


Cannon: Longer area of bone between the knee (front) or hock (hind) joints and the fetlock joints.
Chestnut: A callous formation on the inside of each leg.
Coronet: Soft tissue ring just above the hoof.
Elbow: Where the belly of the horse meets the front leg. It is a joint in front leg of the horse.
Fetlock: Just below the canon of the horse, it is also referred to as the "ankle" of the horse.
Forearm: Located in the front leg, between the knee and elbow joints. Fused radius and ulna are located here.
Gaskin: Large muscle on the hind leg between the hock and stifle. Equivalent to the human calf muscle.
Hock: Large joint on the hind leg of the horse, equal to the human ankle and heel.
Knee: Large joint of the front leg just above the cannon bone.
Pastern: Area between the coronet and fetlock joint.
Splints: Smaller bones in each leg found on each side of the cannon bone.
Stifle: A joint between the femur and the tibia, equal to that of the knee in humans.

This is a basic representation for learning the parts of a horse. There are other sources that may provide more or less information, we tried to include the most commonly discussed parts of a horse between equine professionals and horse owners.

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